I’m not a procrastinator per se.
I’m more of a procramminator – I don’t leave things to the last minute; I just jam everything into the last minute.
This is why I found myself riding another car’s tail at 2:53pm on the way to a 3pm pickup. I do appreciate the rules of the road, like coming to a full stop at a 4-way intersection. But then, I also believe in momentum, you know, like starting the car up again by pushing the accelerator.
It’s not hard.
I do it frequently.
And – dare I say – enthusiastically.
Six blocks from the school, I’d had enough of the pokey pole position Prius. So I tapped the horn. Several times. In response, she took a break from her cellphone conversation to give me the finger before taking her sweet time to ease forward. If there hadn’t been another car approaching, I would have jerked my car around her and given her my DefCon 1 glare as I passed. Instead, I continued kissing her bumper as we both headed north.
While I strive for zen in many things, driving is not one of my more enlightened activities.
The first prickles of discomfort started about three blocks away from the school. Could we be going to the same place? Nah…what are the odds? Besides, she doesn’t even have a school bumper sticker. By the second block, I started to sweat, and eased off a bit. At the last block, I let out a string of curse words that were decidedly inappropriate for the Catholic school parking lot we were both turning into.
I chose the far corner of the lot, planning to camouflage my vehicle amongst the 5,000 other minivans also there for pickup. She opted for the center aisle – and stepped out of the car.
You have got to be effin’ kidding me.
Stephanie Miller, room parent extraordinaire and a near-permanent fixture at the school. Since when did she drive a hybrid?! She had greeted us on our 1st day at the school with donuts and a smile. And she had emailed pictures of Nick’s school mass reading last year which I had missed because of a client meeting.
We weren’t close friends by any means, but we pitched in for each other when needed – like the time she had sent me a frantic text asking if I could pick her daughter up from aftercare because she was stuck in traffic and wouldn’t make it by the 6:30pm cutoff.
I obliged, of course, because we were part of the same community – same neighborhood, shared school. But I couldn’t tell you her husband’s name. I had no idea what her “day job” was. And we would never be a part of each other’s inner circle.
But we would be there for one another.
That’s the funny thing about community, the thing that keeps it intact.
We were present in one another’s life, sharing the same universe. At the grocery store, at the beach, even on the street, our orbits ran parallel, overlapped and sometimes, even collided.
“Hey Steph,” I called. “What’s going on?”
“Oh, the usual. Some bee-yatch was practically in my trunk on the way here.”
“No kidding,” I commiserated. “I had a Sunday driver in front of me.”
“People,” she laughed.
“Yup. People,” I echoed.
The bell rang, and our kids came running out.
“Big plans this weekend,” she asked.
“The usual. You?”
We smiled awkwardly at one another, each ignoring the growing silence that distinguishes friends from acquaintances.
“Well, have a good weekend.” She led her daughter to their car.
“Thanks. You too.” I waved, then took Nick’s hand. “C’mon, kiddo. We gotta jet.”
I don’t want to be stuck behind her on the way home.