Yesterday was a long and complicated day.
The Son, his girlfriend and myself left the house at about 9.45am to commence Mission: Get Son To University. We drove in good humour, sang along to music, talked complete bollocks and reached Trowell services for lunch at around 11.50am. We met up with the Son’s dad, who was in Car #2 which contained pretty much everything the Son didn’t actually need.
We had lunch. We continued onward with Plan A fixed in our minds. Let’s look at Plan A, effectively created off the back of the letter from the university.
“You can collect your accommodation keys and move in from 2pm onwards. Your individual face-to-face enrolment appointment is at 3.50pm. There is a 15 minute drop off for unloading, and there will trolleys for your stuff.”
So, it followed that we would arrive at 2pm, unload the cars, find somewhere else to park, grab a trolley, get the keys, get the Son into his room and get him to his enrolment appointment. This allows time for me to see some of the campus before we leave to drive all the way home. This was a perfect plan. Would could possibly go wrong?
Then I remembered this.
Those quiet, understated misgivings proved to be right. Here, in handy bullet point form, is a summary of yesterday after we left Trowell services.
- 1.45pm – leave the M42 and join the M6 for the short hop to Aston University.
- 2.10pm – still on the M6, because the traffic is bumper-to-bumper. Son’s dad takes wrong turn and we enjoy a brief, but entertaining tour of some back streets. Slight anxiety that we’re now late, but at least we’re in the right vicinity. Let’s find our assigned car park, Car Park 6.
- 2.35pm – still in the queue for Car Park 6. Get in, get told car park is full and we need to go to Car Park 5. We end up in another queue of traffic as Car Park 5 is right next to the slip road joining the bumper-to-bumper traffic coming off the Aston ‘Express’way.
- 3.00pm – spot a space on the on-road parking RIGHT NEXT to the entrance to Car Park 5. Reason that this will be a better plan than having to find another car park. Yoink space. Feel as though have accomplished something. Son’s dad parks in Car Park which is essentially a) empty; and b) a building site. Not a sign of welcoming people with trolleys. Stress levels increasing.
- Leave cars where they are, head into campus. Oh, this is nice! People! Trolleys (all in use)! And queues. Everywhere, queues. I’m fairly sure that people were queuing for queues. Let’s join one!
- Queue One: The Queue for a Trolley. We stood in this queue for a while, when some poor woman came down to say that it was a ‘fake’ queue and there WERE no trolleys and that we should go to our car parks where people would bring trolleys to us. No. Not acceptable. Could feel levels of snark rising. Pointed out son’s enrolment appointment time, and pointed at queue for accommodation keys that went round practically the entire campus. And that’s not an exaggeration. Poor Woman let us stay waiting and eventually, a trolley came.
- Briefly considered stealing trolleys and selling them to other people in same situation. Could have made a fortune.
- Left Son’s girlfriend standing in Queue Two: The Queue for a Key while we charged off with a lovely final year student to unload the cars. Well, to unload my car which contained Things Son Needed, as opposed to stuff in his dad’s car which was Things Son Wanted. Reached stage where we both firmly said ‘if it doesn’t fit in the trolley, it isn’t coming’.
- By now, it is about 3.40pm. Give Son his passport and pack him off to his enrolment. Myself, Son’s Dad and the Lovely Grace cart all the stuff back to the campus and wait for enrolment (which took about 50 seconds) and key.
- It is now about 4.15pm. Irritation has subsided to be replaced with faint sense of relief and mid incredulity as we joined the final queue of the day: Queue Three: The Queue to Actually Get Into the Building.
- By the time we finally got everything unloaded, it was now 5pm. My original plans to get a look around campus and leave about 6-6.30pm were completely out of the window. So we did the only sensible thing you can do in these situations. We went for a beer.
- 6.30pm. Starting to feel like a spare part, so said ‘right, I’m going home’. Said goodbye to Son, didn’t cry. Waited for Son and Girlfriend to say goodbye and she and I drove home together without getting upset and keeping each other’s spirits up. Dropped her off at her house and then came home. Was back in about 11pm after a very trying day, which nonetheless was full of love and laughter.
- Cried. Yes, I finally cried. Because he’s not here any more. He’s out there, having a grand adventure, without me (I’m jealous) in a lovely room on a beautiful campus and now I have to share him with the world. I’m sad and happy at the same time. So proud. So choked up. So… parent.