School Zoned

I know a lot of people who hate school zones. Sometimes I say that I hate school zones. They slow you down when you’re in a hurry. The warning lights sometimes flash when school is not in session. Not everyone obeys the laws of school zones. You get a little happy somewhere deep inside when a speeder gets caught, get agitated when someone speeds and does not get caught. For many, it doesn’t matter that school zones are for the safety of everyone: the students and the drivers, too.

As I was driving through a school zone recently, I realized that I really don’t hate school zones. I like school zones, maybe even love them. They remind me that I was young once. They remind me to slow down, not just for kids but for myself. Too much rushing around really is bad for a person. They remind me that I don’t want to get a ticket. They remind me of when my son was in elementary and middle school. I see the parents crossing their child over to the other side of the street to school or to their vehicle and am reminded of when my dad used to pick me up from school when I was a little girl. I’m also reminded of when my son was a school crossing-guard in the 5th grade. I wonder if he knows how proud I was (and still am) of him. I thought, ‘Wow, I can’t believe my boy is doing that, such a leader he is!’

I think some people hate school zones because they can make them late for work. But really, they should plan ahead, leave home early enough to beat the traffic or perhaps even take a different route. Where I grew up, my elementary school was located in a subdivision away from the main highway. Life was quiet. The most traffic was school dropoff and pickup times. Not many people worried about much. Most parents parked their cars, got out and met their kids in front of the school, then walked them to their car, making sure they were securely inside before getting in themselves and leaving for home. Years later, I see that happening still at the elementary schools I drive past.

Today, life is busier though. Many schools are on main roads and impatient drivers don’t always do the double- or triple-check to make sure a child isn’t in the crosswalk or another car isn’t coming before pulling out. Then, there are cell phones which we didn’t have in my day. Has anyone noticed the “No cell phone ordinance” signs that have popped up at in school zones? I think it’s a great idea. The ones on the street that I take to work were posted long enough for me to get in the habit of not being on the cell phone while in the school zone. Now, it’s just natural for me to end the call or to wait to call until I’m past all the schools on my route to work.

School zones – safety first or an inconvenience? Perhaps it all depends on where you are at in life. I once got a ticket in a school zone. I was about 24 years old. I was late to work and still half asleep. Why? I don’t recall. Maybe from being out late the night before. Maybe from being ill. Whatever the reason, the police officer didn’t want to hear my reasons, nor did he care. He was happy to give me the ticket I thought, and maybe even sorry at the same time. Sorry that I was so out of it that I couldn’t realize the danger I might be putting an unsuspecting child in. And happy too perhaps, to give me a wakeup call in the hopes I might wake up to the seriousness of the matter. It took years for that to happen though: until I had my own child. Only then did I understand the importance of school zones.

So, if you hate school zones, take a different route. But if you are where I am now, memory lane is only but a school zone away. Just drive safely, please.

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