You don’t have to go home but you can’t park here.

I’m going out on a limb here, but I would venture to say that if you polled any random number of parents and asked them what issue do you hate the most about the school your children attend, most of them would say the parking. The ones that wouldn’t say parking would be the ones whose children are bussed to school and who do not have to endure the daily clusterfuck of school drop-offs and pick-ups.

We have 600 students at our school, and many of them come via bus. A few walk, and a lot are driven. We do a mixture of walking and driving, depending on weather conditions and what I’m doing after I drop off the kids. When I drive, I park about a block away, and we walk. It works well because I avoid the insanity that is parking close to the school: people will make u-turns in the middle of the very busy street, in front of oncoming traffic, just to get a spot near the school. They park across the street and then jaywalk into busy traffic, rather than walking the extra thirty seconds – literally, thirty seconds – to the crosswalks on either side of the front of the school. This month’s school newsletter had a whole section on “please do not park in the school bus zones” because that is actually something that needs to be told to people. Don’t drop your precious snowflake off in the bus zone because BUSES ARE USING THAT ZONE. We all have precious snowflakes, let’s model good behaviour by not a) parking like an asshole, b) turning u-turns in the middle of a busy road like an asshole, c) jaywalking across the busy street while also holding babies and small children like an asshole.

And then the alley, my god, the alley. The alley beside the school is filled, constantly, with people parked on either side, creating a narrow one-lane passage. People park on blind corners and in no-stopping zones, because they are too damn lazy to park elsewhere. I feel sorry for the people who live there because people are always parking in front of garage doors and on garbage days, the garbage trucks get stuck in the melee.

Since the kids come home at lunch, I usually drive through the alley. I park in a legal zone, wait for them to come out, and drive them home. Always, always, there are people parked in insanely illegal ways further down the alley. These are kindergarten parents who are letting their kids have a little playtime on the playground before taking them home. Every single day, I fume a little as I slowly drive past the cars parked on either side of the corner, which makes a terrible blind spot in which I cannot see oncoming traffic. Kids pop in and out of the playground, which makes me nervously drive about 3 km/ hr. Yes, I could change my own behaviour, but the kids come out of their respective doors, run to the car, and we go home. In a perfect world, I would be able to drive through the alley normally. And until this year, I did. This year, every day I think that if there were bylaw officers around the school, they’d make their fiscal year in about two days.

Then yesterday, I saw a man parked on the wrong side of the road, on a corner, in the no-stopping zone. It was like the trifecta of illegal parking. He was in his car, on his phone, while – I assume – his kindergartener played on the playground equipment. And I don’t know if it was the full moon or the fact that the guy was too lazy to get out of his damn car and do his internet-surfing on the playground bench in the sunshine, or if I had just been pushed too far, but I thought, goddammit, I am the Chair of the School Council and this is unsafe and I AM GOING TO CONFRONT THIS MAN. Those of you who know me know how very unlikely it is for me to actually confront someone, rather than ujjayi breathing and thinking he had a good reason to do what he did.

I drove over there – with kids in the car, on the way home for lunch – and gestured to him to roll down his window. He did so, and I said, politely and perkily, that he wasn’t allowed to park there. “Well, where am I supposed to park then?” he asked me, and I just looked at him for a moment. Blink. Blink. I said he could park anywhere that wasn’t illegal, and pointed out the no-stopping sign that he was RIGHT BESIDE. “Oh, so none of these cars are supposed to park here?” he said a tad bit belligerently. Well, I said, not the ones that are parked between the signs that indicate NO STOPPING. Reading comprehension: it’s a skill we can all work on. We stared at each other for a moment, and then I felt an impasse had been reached. I shrugged, said that I thought I should let him know, and drove away.

Last night I was waiting for the kids at karate and got an email from the school. It outlined, in detail, alley parking bylaws! I didn’t even complain to the school; I didn’t bring it up, I didn’t make any phone calls, IT JUST HAPPENED THIS WAY. I guess I’m not the only one who broke.


  1. YES YES YES OH MY FUCKING GOD YES – both kids, both schools now. I once saw a woman blatantly park almost ON the fucking playground, in front of a service door, and start walking briskly to get her daughter. A teacher said “you can’t park there” and she said “I know, thank you!”. The teacher said, uh, back the fuck up, sister, made her move the car, and then I saw her later telling her daughter that mommy’s SO SORRY she’s late getting here, the mean teacher made her move her car. The first time my dad drove Angus to school (I can’t remember why, he usually takes the city bus), he thought there had been some kind of accident and that was why there was so much wonky traffic.

    Good for you for confronting him. Maybe the next time I’m walking and see someone not scooping after their dog I’ll say something harsher than have a nice day.


    My kids are bussed and my single biggest annoyance about school is the parking / drop off / pick up situation because as school council chair I have to hear all the interminable pissing, moaning, bitching, and complaining that is caused by a small but significant percentage of assholes who think the rules don’t apply to them.

    *breathes into paper bag*

  3. what angers me is that the cities over develop the areas around the schools. No one needs their back yard to be right up against the school’s yard. WE also have a 600 student school but that doesn’t include the Teachers and TAs and custodial staff and parent volunteers who need to park at the school. There is no space for them either.

  4. I hear this is an issue at J’s school but she takes the bus, and on the extremely rare occasion she doesn’t we walk, so I am blissfully unaware of the details.

    Do I need to say what my #I issue with our schools is? I trust I have not been unclear on Facebook, but let’s have some statistics: unscheduled days off this year: 7, in the past 2 weeks: 4, THIS WEEK: 3. Confidence the school district will follow its own stated plan for make up days: medium. It would be low, based on history, except the state gave the county a rather stern talking to last year so who knows?

  5. i don’t have children myself but I live across the street from a school. We had a spate of people driving up driveways on the street to turn onto and park on the footpath! I tried talking to the school about it and they said that they were not responsible for anyhhing that happened outside school grounds. I tried calling the police but I live in Northern Ireland and the police won’t respond to a call like that because they still worry that you are trying to get them to a certain place as an ambush. (We have officially lived in peace for 15 years now but old suspicions die hard).

    Finally I called the local council and they came out during drop off/pick up time and during the summer holidays came and installed bollards so cars cannot park on the footpath. It’s still madness out there every day but I feel like I won a small victory!

  6. Oh my God, THANX for bringing this issue up. You are totally right, it really makes me mad to have to deal with that situation every day!. I have a little 1 year old that makes the drop off and pick up of my other two kids even harder. I usually have to arrive super early to school to find a closer parking spot but it’s getting more and more difficult. About confronting people, I had a similar experience: every day for about a month my kids and I watch a mom with two little girls jaywalk right in the curve so some cars had to really step on the brakes cause it was impossible to see them. Every day my daughter would get very angry cause “She is risking her kids lives and teaching them wrong!”, so I decided I should let her know. I was as polite as I could but her answer was something in the lines that those are HER kids and she knows what is better for them followed by an explanation of how far the pedestrian crossing was. Anyways, know she sends me evil looks everytime we cross paths but even with that she is now crossing through the pedestrian way (after u-turning for parking in front of the school…. Ha!)

    Anyways, Thanks for the post and letting us voice our opoinion 🙂

  7. GAH! F’s old preschool car park was a NIGHTMARE. You can only access the driveway from one side of the road (there’s a median in the way so no left turns), and there’s enough parking for 6 cars when there aren’t 11 foot tall snowbanks to contend with. People would park in the most ridiculous places for drop off, rather than wait for a spot to open up. Certainly a different situation, but crazy making nonetheless.

    But the worst? THE PEOPLE WHO DRIVE WAY TOO FAST!! Do they forget that there are little people? Or that it’s not a fucking raceway. Ye Gods!

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