Friday, September 12, 2008

The Joys of American Bureaucratic Stupidity

This will be the last post I make for a while, so I thought I'd vent a little...

I live in the city of Virginia Beach, Virginia.  Population: 437,000*.  Located on the mid-atlantic coast, cornering the Atlantic Ocean, and the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.  Indeed, anything that goes in and out of the Bay passes by us, good or bad.  It's a nice place to live, unless you work in the IT field, which offers up next to zero career opportunities.  But that's not what I'm hear to vent about, no.  Actually, it has to do with irony and stupidity.  Two things that are uniquely entwined when it comes to the City of Virginia Beach Public School Busing system.

I have four children in public schools here.  One in elementary, one in middle school, and two in high school.  They all ride a bus to school.  They all have to walk to the end of our cul de sac, turn and walk another few blocks and wait for the bus, rain or shine.

Across the cul de sac from our house is a family with two young boys.  These two boys shall remain nameless, since, after all, this is America, and in America we protect the stupid - at all costs.  At the tender age of eight, the oldest of the two called in a bomb threat to the local YMCA, forcing an evacuation, and they were eventually traced and caught.  At nine, he and his younger brother tried to burn down their next-door neighbor's house in the night.  They have run away from home multiple times and had search teams track them down, once using a helicopter.

I guess you could say it's been a real treat living in such close proximity, but they have mellowed in the past four years, so things lately aren't so unpredictably uneasy.  However... yes, this involves a "however" --

By committing these "incidents" as the police have coined them, they have been labeled as "special needs" children.  They are not physically disabled in any sense of the meaning.  They aren't mentally disabled in the sense of discerning "right" from "wrong" or knowing the basics of the world around us (the date, country, president's name, etc.) and can carry on a rather normal conversation.  However, they are now "special needs".  So, what does this mean?  It means they get a bus that stops directly in front of their house, every morning, to take them to school, and it drops them off directly in front of their house, after school, every day.

A side effect of this, is that the bus driver finds it difficult to turn the bus around in our tiny cul de sac, and is terrified of doing a two-point turn-around.  So she calls the police to have them knock at each door at 7:00 am and warn us to no longer park on the street in front of our houses unless we can park "parallel" to the curb.

Our cul de sac is smaller in diameter than most of the others in our subdivision.  Even with NO vehicles parked at all inside, the bus driver still has to perform a two-point turn-around.  The oddest thing is that if you watch her do this, her maneuvering is identical to when there are (or were) cars parked within it.  No difference at all.

Even better, according to the city laws, we are not permitted to park on our lawn, or anywhere off of a designated "driveway", nor are we allowed to park "perpendicular" to the curb unless it is designated with a sign.  How you can park "parallel" or "perpendicular" to a curve is beyond me anyway, I'm a CAD guy and those terms are mutually exclusive.  Congruent or Normal would be more appropriate, but whatever.

The moral of the story here is that if you want your own personal school bus to pick you up and drop you off, directly in front of your house, whilst other kids have to walk in the rain several blocks away, all you need to do is call in a bomb threat, burn down a house, or run away from home several times.  Not only do you get to have such fantastic preferential treatment, but your neighbors get to be threatened by the police about parking in front of their own homes!  How cool is that!?
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