Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Inopportune Traffic Lights and Tardiness

Image courtesy of domdeen of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Ever have one of those days?  You know, the kind where NOTHING goes the way you planned?  Yep, one of those.  Today was my day for borderline epic motherhood failure.  OK, maybe not THAT bad.  I mean, no one was hurt and no animals were sacrificed in an effort to get the stars aligned properly (although, if a stray ram crossed my path and threw itself in front of my car in order to please the traffic light gods, I probably would have taken him up on his offer).

You see, it all went down like this….

“Mom!  Don’t forget that I need to take that science test after school today so I can opt out of basic science next year.”

“OK, what time is the test, and where do you need to go?” I asked.  This is a school-sponsored event, how inconvenient could it be, right?

“I need to be over at the high school by 4:00,” she answered in between bites of Chocolate Chex cereal.

“No problem,” I told her. Piece of cake, I thought to myself.

Off to work I went, with nary a care in the world.  As usual, my day passed uneventfully.  I paid bills, answered phones, wrote essays, and conversed with my co-workers.  Unfortunately, that whole “conversing with the co-workers” business managed to contribute to my ultimate downfall later in the day.

Hey, I have stories to tell.  And they are good ones – stuff my fellow working stiffs need to hear about. 

With about ten minutes to spare, I wrapped up my last tall tale of the day and raced out to my car to go pick up the kid.  As I screeched pulled my car into the school’s circular driveway I realized the buses in front of me were at a standstill.  A suburban was shut down in the middle of the drive, its owner inside the building, completely oblivious to the resulting traffic jam.  I waited ten minutes until the driver came running out, visibly flustered by her negligence.  I whipped my car into an empty parking space and briskly walked into the front office to retrieve the kiddo.

Only slightly fazed by this disruption to my schedule, I decided to go ahead and fill my car up with gas before making my way over to the high school campus.  Hey, I still had twenty minutes before start time, and my fuel range read, “get gas NOW”.

After I fed the beast with fossil fuel, I climbed back into the driver’s seat and proceeded to head toward the high school. 

OK, here’s where things got a little hairy.  As a result of the tornado that completely destroyed our city’s high school two years ago, the current, temporary high school is divided into a 9/10 campus and an 11/12 campus.  When I asked my daughter where the test was being offered, I thought she told me the 9/10 campus, which is on my side of town, a mere five minute drive from the gas station I was currently sitting at.  Unfortunately, as I pulled the car onto the street that leads to that campus, my daughter said, “You do know it’s at the 11/12 campus, right?”

No, actually, I did NOT know the test was on the other side of town – a fifteen minute drive if all the stars line up properly.

“Okay,” I told her, “we can still make this work.  Text your friend and tell her to let the test administrator know we are on our way.”

A brief minute passed and my daughter yelled out, “She says they’ve already started!”

“WHAT?”  I looked over at the clock on my dash.  It read, 3:42.  “No, they can’t start now. Didn’t they tell you 4:00?”

“Oh, wait.  She says she’s just kidding.”  Not funny.

We kept on driving and approached our first traffic light just as it changed from yellow to red.  No big deal.  Unless, of course, the remaining seven traffic signals on our route also turned red as we approached.  Which they did.

As we neared the high school campus, we sat through one last red light and finally turned onto the street that led to the finish line when what do we pull behind but a school bus.  With its stop signs out.  What are the odds?

Somehow we managed to pull into the school parking lot at precisely 3:59, just in time for my kid to take the test (we weren’t even the last ones there – the light gods were working overtime all over the city, I guess).  In the end, she took the test, no sweat.  Well, except for that brief time period when I pulled behind a driver who was so absorbed in his cell phone conversation that he was driving 30 mph in a 40 mph speed zone.  I was sweating quite profusely then, not to mention swearing (in my head, of course)…. 

How about you? Have you ever been inadvertently late for something?  Have you ever made your kid late for something important?  How on earth do you get the traffic signals to operate in your favor?


  1. Is this a bad time to tell you that there was a BUS that would take them to the test and you only were responsible for picking them up at the 11/12 campus?!

  2. OMG, Dyanne's comment aced this post. :) Typical end to that kind of hassle.

    Sorry you had such a hectic time, Dawn. We've all been there - I think it's one of the badges we mothers have to earn, kinda like the Girl Scouts.

    1. I know, right? It was so predictable that it was unbelievable, frustrating, and hilarious all at the same time!