In 1989, Joanne Palmer left a publishing career in Manhattan and has missed her paycheck ever since. She is a mom, weekly columnist for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, and the owner of a property management company, The House Nanny. Her new book "Life in the 'Boat: How I fell on Warren Miller's skis, cheated on my hairdresser and fought off the Fat Fairy" is now available in local bookstores and online at booklocker.com or amazon.com.

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In 1989, Joanne Palmer left a publishing career in Manhattan and has missed her paycheck ever since. She is a mom, weekly columnist for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, and the owner of a property management company, The House Nanny. Her new book "Life in the 'Boat: How I fell on Warren Miller's skis, cheated on my hairdresser and fought off the Fat Fairy" is now available in local bookstores and online at booklocker.com or amazon.com.

Joanne Palmer: Notes from Operation Pickup

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Joanne Palmer

Joanne Palmer's Life in the 'Boat column appears Wednesdays in the Steamboat Today. Email her at jpalmer@springsips.com

Find more columns by Palmer here.

— To: Commander-In-Chief of Steamboat Springs School District

From: Private Investigator Palmer

Date: May 6, 2009

Re: Operation Pick-Up - Surveillance Report

The following report summarizes the surveillance operation conducted by P.I. Palmer on a typical afternoon as parents picked up their children after school. Palmer donned the regulation school surveillance outfit: Crocs, oversized hoodie, iPod and jeans belted around her knees to blend in with the crowd.

The situation was perilous, uncertain and extreme - but, thanks to the crossing guards, far from hopeless. At 15:19, they assumed their positions wearing bright orange vests to direct the most competent and brilliantly led Operation Pickup the Steamboat Springs School District has ever seen.

14:59: Parent maneuvers began. Three SUVs pulled into the designated middle school lanes and assumed the "wait-for-your-kids" position. While waiting, they engaged in non-threatening behavior such as reading the newspaper, making phone calls, listening to NPR and dog petting.

15:05: More SUVs arrived.

15:07: Subarus arrived.

15:08: Big Yellow Twinkies (Code name for school buses) arrived.

15:09: Hybrids arrived, assumed their positions.

15:10: Lone politically correct parent arrived on bicycle to ride home with offspring.

15:11: Audis arrived.

15:13: Red alert. Beep, beep. Car abandoned in middle school lane. Photograph of license plate is taken and transmitted to district office.

15:14: Suburbans arrived.

15:15: Elementary school students released! Students race out the door as if fleeing a house on fire. The boys push and punch, and girls, well, the girls do not.

15:19: Crossing guards arrived, assumed position.

15:20: Middle school students, camouflaged in hoodies, exit the building.

15:22: Overheard conversation picked up on 'listening device' installed in secret location No. 22JJt5.

Parent: "How about a haircut after school?"

Child: "Did you know I can say, 'no' backwards? O-nooooooo!" Did you know 'no' can be a 16-syllable word?

15:24: Long line of SUVs observed on Amethyst Drive. Parent talking on cell phone rear-ended another car. Loud argument erupted.

15:26: Students loaded onto Big Yellow Twinkies for safe transport home.

15:27: Subaru breaks down in parking lot, requires jump start from Suburban.

15:30: Big Yellow Twinkies start up.

15:31: Remaining cars in parking lots disregard crossing guards and pull out in front of Twinkies.

15:40: Teenager Audio Test is activated, dispersing all but three remaining students.

15:41: P.I. Palmer convinces three remaining students to remove iPod headphones and encourages them to leave the premises.

Findings: Sixty-one parents observed talking on cell phones. Five elementary school cars in the middle school lanes. Two drivers ignored "do not abandon vehicle" signs and abandoned vehicles. Three lost lacrosse sticks, one French horn, six hoodies, one sneaker with a fluorescent shoelace and 13 backpacks are transported to lost and found. Listening devices recorded 6,321 uses of the word "dude." Exactly 10,321 text messages were sent during a 13-minute period, 33 photos were uploaded via mobile Facebook, and 65 Twitters were Tweeted. Or is that Tweeted were Twitters?

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