When we were looking for a home to buy we got similar advice from all the locals, but it wasn't the advice I expected. It mostly consisted of: "Wherever it is, make sure it's not on the same road as an elementary school. You won't be able to get within a mile of your home twice a day." and "Just make sure you are far away from any elementary school. Drop off times are bad, but pick-up times are a nightmare. You don't want to live anywhere near that." I did get a few "Avoid houses near elementary schools. Something about picking up kids from school turns parents into monsters. Seriously, avoid." Usually this advice was followed by a few personal horror story experiences. Some about living next to an elementary school, others just about picking their kids up from school.
Yesterday the woman I visit teach called and said she was stuck in a job interview and would I please pick up her son from elementary school? How could I say no? I was apprehensive, not only did the stories scare me, but I was also nervous because I've only met her son a few times. I knew he was short, had black hair and tan skin, but I wasn't confident I could pick him out of a crowd.
Still, I packed Ash in the car and drove to the local elementary school. Once I got close, I balked. There were cars EVERYWHERE. The traffic was moving at a snails pace. And that was two blocks away form the school. Once I actually got into the parking lot, that's when I panicked. People were parked haphazardly all over the place; up on cubs, in red zones, behind other parked cars... After three narrow misses and what seemed like hours, I finally emerged from the parking lot. I parked the car in the nearest spot I could find, which happened to be next to a red curb. Looking up and down the red curb I saw a dozen other parked cars, so I figured I could risk it. I got Ash out, and we walked back to the school. We made it to the gate just as the school bell rang and all the kids came running out.
My heart sank. ALL the kids were short with black hair and tan skin. I could rule out a few kids, mostly because they were female, but all the boys looked like they might be the kid I was looking for. I looked around, discouraged. Finally, I saw the teacher the mom had described. I walked over to her. She was surrounded by a bunch of children. A few of them might be him. I called his name, hoping one of them would turn. None of them did. But the teacher looked up, and I explained I was there to pick him up. She gave me a weird look, then pointed to the kid right in front of me. He turned and looked at me and I looked at him: Sure. That could be him.
So I took him back to the car (relieved to find it still there with no ticket), strapped him in, and fought traffic for the next ten minutes, trying to travel the three blocks to his house. When we finally got there, his mom was waiting for us. The boy jumped out and hugged her, so I assume it was the right kid.
So, success! And wow, I am glad we don't live on the same street as an elementary school...