Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Dog Days of Fall

What could possibly possess a man to drive down the road on a freezing morning with his windshield covered in frost and his head hanging out the driver’s side window?  How could he not have enough time to let the van's defrost setting warm up and do its jobs? Or enough sense to drag a scraper across the frozen surface to create at least a peephole?

This may read like a rant against a dumb driver I saw this morning.  It’s not.  And I know what affliction can cause such behavior:  Children.   More precisely, Children who’ve missed the bus and are late for school -- again. 

For, this morning, I was that dumb driver.

The first reaction is likely, this sounds dangerous.  Normally, I’d agree.  But our trip to school is along all neighborhood streets, of which I had an unobstructed and clear view.  The only things in any danger were my eyebrows and any squirrels who didn’t hear us coming.  I also didn’t go faster than 15 miles per hour, being quiet roads, and seeing that my icy brow couldn’t take much more. 

I’m a bit of a safety nut.  So I can assure you it was safe, though certainly on the stupid side. 

Sometimes, I wish I had a layer of fur.
Still, why not let the defrost work before departing, or at least scrape the damn windows?  Answer: time and circumstance.  

This morning was the first deep frost of the fall, leaving a layer of white on everything in sight, including the cars.  I first noticed it when we came barreling out of the house in a mad dash to school.  As we scrambled into the van without a second to spare, I turned the defrost on full-blast and used the windshield wiper spray button – loaded with negative 15 de-icer -- to take off the layer of frost.  It appeared to work, and we departed.  

Yet, with the cold air moving across the outside of the front window and the semi-warm air blowing on its inside, the frost came back with a vengeance. 

The clock ticked on.  Our 7-year-old was almost certainly going to be late for church school, which she attends before elementary school one day a week.  It’s her first communion year.  Last week she was 15 minutes late for church school, which might be a mortal sin; I'll have to check my Catholic handbook.   Our 10-year-old, on the other had, had less than three minutes before the late bell rang out at the middle school.  Luckily, that's not a sin.  Still, both were late far too recently for another incident. 

Frankly, at this point the 7-year-old can be classified as a chronic offender, continuing her life-long challenge with making the bus and promptly arriving at school.  I remember a report card she got after one quarter back in 1st Grade.  She read it, saying, “I got one 5 …”  Which, under the newfangled grading system, would put her off the charts.  Then she finished reading, “… but it’s for Tardy.”

You’d think waking them up an hour and a half before school starts would be enough.  That’s assuming they actually listen to instructions, like wake up, get dressed, brush your teeth, and eat breakfast.  It seems so easy when broken down into these four simple steps, but it never is.  

Clearly, as the frost overtook the window seconds into our desperate trip, I had few choices.  I could park the car and let the defrost blowing out of the AC unit catch up: estimated time, 3 to 4 minutes.  I could stop, get out, find the scraper I haven’t used since March, and see if this sort of frost is the type that can be scraped off: estimated time, 2 to 3 minutes, with a 50 percent chance success rate.  Or I could roll down the window, stick my head clear out into the cold morning air, and trudge onward to the two school drop points.

So, that’s what I did.  

I’m not proud.

Luckily, the window cleared before the first stop; my eyebrows defrosted by the second.  And both kids arrived at their destination safe and sound.  Only one was tardy, but she’s always late.    

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