I thought I was alone in my rage at the audacious parking behaviour from some parents picking their children up from school. It turns out my experience is just the tip of the road cone.
As a journalist, when you write a story about atrocious behaviour, you expect that the people exhibiting said behaviour will slide into your DMs to give you a serve and come in hot with comments on, in my case, the Herald's Facebook page.
So when I wrote about my experience with parents parking in my driveway and breaking the law to nab pole position at the school gates - I was prepared for all those Karen and Debbie types to come for me with their virtual pitch forks.
What I wasn't prepared for was the influx of people screaming "#samesies" with their own tales of a Crazy Kazza or Dangerous Deb.
I even had people standing up for me on social media.
When a critic suggested I change my schedule to suit the school pick-up parents, and not take my son to his doctor's appointment so these parents - who probably had a "hard day" - could use my driveway, the comments section was flooded with people coming to my defence.
They declared this critic a right Karen and no fewer than 21 people commented with variations of: "... you are not seriously advocating that the person that owns the home and driveway has to organise their life around other people who act illegally?"
*Spoiler alert, we've all had a hard day, love.
The emails came flooding in faster than Karen can move those road cones. And the tales, ooh they are juicy:
Though I intended to keep identities a secret, the crimes I revealed were clearly so blatant that someone identified the school I live by: "My boys go there, and I absolutely try to drop them off without breaking any laws and get out of the chaos as soon as possible. It's horrendous."
Here are some of my favourite responses which reveal Auckland's school gates are indeed teeming with audacious parents - and just as many furious homeowners peeping at them from between angled Venetians.
Auckland Transport can't possibly catch 'em all
"Pre children, I lived across from a school and had Karens and Debs to deal with everyday. Always making me late ... Now, I can honestly say, knowing how s****y and lazy parents can be, I am neither a Deb or a Karen out of principle. But there are too many for AT to take on. Hopefully some will get your message."
Get out of my driveway, Dad!
"I live opposite a large Auckland primary school, I not only have people parking across my driveway but had one dad drive halfway up my drive, get out, lock his car and go in to collect his child. I was trying to get out to collect my own children from kindy. He couldn't understand the issue!!!"
Stop ripping up our streets
"My kids' old school had the worst parents. They'd park on all the residents' grass on the street and tear up all the grass in winter. Terrible."
Join the Auckland Peepers Club
It turns out I'm not the only one observing these criminal mums and dads.
"I 'peep' too," one email read. "I wish I didn't but some days I can't help myself. The only way to have the problem addressed by AT is to create a history of enforcement, just the way you're doing it. So, yes, I've taken photos. My local school didn't respond to my email either, and I used to work there!"
While it was both concerning and legitimising to hear other Aucklanders are observing these same school-gate issues, the biggest shock of all was that people thanked me:
"I just wanted to thank you for your article about parents parking over your driveway every school day. I share your pain, and as much as I wouldn't want anyone else put through the frustration and inconvenience, I'm grateful to know I'm not alone ...
"Meanwhile, we can't get children to the doctor or ourselves to work due to the selfishness of others. What's really sad is that kids learn this entitled behaviour from their parents, and then bring it into the classroom.
"Thanks for highlighting the issue. I hope Debbie and Karen get the message. Or many tickets!"
People understood, too, that this wasn't just me having a rant. They confirmed this is a safety issue. When these people break the law, they risk the safety of our children.
"Thanks for supplying the parking wardens' number - I've saved it in my contacts! I dare say Karen and the Debster will be screaming 'revenue gatherers' at the poor wardens. $60 is cheap for a lesson in child health and safety."
And then I got an email from Debbie. But not "the Debbie". This Debbie was cool.
"I'm not the Debbie you speak of but, boy oh boy, did this resonate ...
"Have forwarded to an Instagrammer who documents this exact same situation every day, only it's people parking in the middle of her street, engines off, for an hour before pickup so that Johnny doesn't have to walk an extra 100m. Frustrating, yes; entertaining to watch as an outsider, also yes."
A problem shared ...
Then mum blogger happymumhappychild shared my story after sharing similar frustrations with her followers just days before.
Another Instagram mum and blogger, iamtarryndonalson, shared that she is the victim of parents who use the middle of her street as an Auckland-airport-drop-off-zone-style drive-through waiting bay.
She even revealed that when she asked her 15,000 followers what they want to hear more of from her, the response was overwhelmingly in favour of more tales about parents who frequent her street and hold her prisoner in her home.
An impressive response
The biggest feedback of all came in the form of action, not words. While working from home the day after my story went live, I decided to peep once more. To my surprise, the school patrol was out in force. High-vis vests were awash across Auckland's North Shore.
Nobody was parked on the road in front of my driveway, and nobody within my peeping periphery was parked on yellow lines. A miracle!
But just as I began to think my story had made a real difference to my community, I spotted her: The original cone-shuffler. She was early, parked up at 1.50pm, ready to fight for her spot.
So did I change the world? No. Did I make my street a safer place? Probably not - at least not yet. But what I hope I did do was make the Yellow Line Parkers and Driveway Blockers aware that all eyes are on them and that there is no excuse. Not even on a "hard day".