Once upon a time my sweet 6yr old daughter asked me if I could JUST ONCE, pretty pretty please be the first one in line at car pickup after school.  Being the sucker that I am, I told her I would do my very best to be early enough to be the first car there when those gates rolled open.  Not that I am a late person.. oh no, being "on time" doesn't mean anything when the clock strikes that magical number.  This is one of the top American schools in Sao Paulo.  Lower, middle & upper schools all combine into one very space efficient campus.  Please note that I mentioned the CAMPUS is space efficient.  Off campus, the streets surrounding the school are as much of a mess as any other out here.. and a raving madhouse at "pick up time"!  But today.. today was going to be different.  TODAY, I was going to be first if it killed me!  After picking up Sir L at noon (he only goes half day), we stayed close by and I took him and Princess P to lunch.  Then we went back to stake out our place in the front of the line.  90 minutes before the gate was due to open (that's a full hour and a half folks!), and THIS is what I find:  I'm not first, not second, good freak, I'm not even 10th!  I am 12th.  12th!!!  That brown gate seemed to laugh as I stared at the great chasm that separated me from being the crowned "first car in line".
As I sulked back in my car, I felt completely and utterly defeated.  I tried not to glare at the grouping of men across the street who'd beaten me to the chase.  I know them all too well.  These men are the very reason I've never attempted to be first in line before.  No one does.  These men are paid (literaly!) to beat me to the punch!  Drivers.  Aka "Motoristas".  Ahh yes - there is a very large population in middle to upper class Brazil who have these men at their beck and call to run errands, pick up kids, and even walk their toy poodles.  The ones you don't see here in their friendly huddle are sleeping off the time in the comfort of the vehicles they drive.
The more time passed, the more I was just dying to get the inside scoop, so I sucked in a deep breath and jotted across the street with Princess P in tow for support.. if you've never approached a grouping of 20+ grown men all by your lonesome, let me just tell you - it's somewhat intimidating!  Here is what I said, followed by the not so direct translation of what I was trying to say (if you speak fluent Portuguese, don't judge, we work with what we've got!):

"Com licença, uma pergunta para voces.. Que horas voces gerlamente chegam aqui?" ("Excuse me, minor question for you.. what time do you normally arrive here?")

Rather confused as to why I cared and who I was, a few of them began to reply, "Meio dia".  ("Noon")

"Nossa!" ("Good heavens!")

"sdhgaksjhdgakshdgaklhsd" (a bunch of mumbo jumbo spoken waaaaay too fast for me to try and reiterate it all here..)

Me, teasing and laughing (hopefully sarcastic humor translates through Portuguese better than through writing), "Minha filha me perguntou se eu posso chegar primeiro so uma vez, mas voces sempre me ganham!  Eu chegei uma hora e meio cedo hoje e eu estou numero doze!  Talvez uma vez eu posso chegar mais cedo do que voces, mas hoje voces sao bem rapido!"  ("My daughter asked me if just once I could be first in line, but you guys always beat me!  I got here an hour and a half early today and I'm the 12th in line - one day I'm gonna do it, but my word, you guys are crazy fast!)

After more joking and laughing about the situation, I asked them if I could take a picture.. they were such fun guys I couldn't help it! :)  It must have flattered them, because the next thing I knew, they were all conducting each other and moving cars around to get me up further in line.  They all promised that they would save me a space in front whenever I wanted and just to wave them down and they would remember who I was and help me out.  (If you have ever picked up kids from this school, you understand what a HUGE deal this is!)  I assured them that I only had ambitions to be first once and that if they were dedicated enough to sit there and wait for 3+ hours each day, they deserved that first spot!
After car shuffling, laughing, and thumbs upping my way up the line, they managed to get me in the 3rd spot before the gates began to open. :)  What AWESOME guys!!!
It may not be first but I'm not complaining!  3rd place winners get ribbons too you know!  Who's laughing now gate?!  Sucka! ;P
As I drove in, the look on my daughters face made it all worth it (okay, it would have been worth it anyways to get in on the driver fun for one day!), as she yelled out, "Oh my gosh!  My mom is almost first!!!"  Priceless.


  1. That is really awesome of those guys to try and make your daughters wish come true. Too cute.

  2. It really was SO sweet of them! It just goes to show - step out of your comfort zone and you may be pleasantly surprised ;)