My kids have been going to the same summer day camp for about six years, which has also been their afterschool program. It's a great program, and for the most part I've been happy with it, although they will not be attending next year because we're moving.
Anyway, on one of the last days of camp on which only my youngest was attending, they were going on a field trip, which they do maybe 3-4 times a week. It was an 8:30 a.m. cutoff (which is usually 30 minutes before the leave time), and this is generally earlier than we would arrive most days. So I got my daughter going early, and even with some bad luck with traffic, I got to the camp with the clock in my car reading 8:30.
Except when I got into the camp, the trip director Lucy said, "Oh, I'm so sorry, it's 8:32, and the cutoff was 8:30 so we can't take her."
I was absolutely shocked. First of all, my watch said 8:30. Second of all, the bus for the trip hadn't even arrived, the lunches were still in an open cooler in the classroom, and nobody has made any move to leave. When I pointed this out, she said, "Yeah, but I've already done the buddy list. So there's nothing I can do."
We went back and forth on this for much longer than it could possibly have taken her to add one child to the buddy list. (Presumably less than two minutes, since the cutoff was 8:30 and she was done with the buddy list by 8:32.) I mean, it's not like a rocket was taking off and the doors were slamming shut at 8:30. It would have been so easy for her to let this happen. In fact, on another occasion three years earlier, I got the cutoff wrong and was late by FIFTEEN minutes, and even though they yelled at me and had already put the lunches on the bus, they still let my kid stay. If they had turned me away that day, they would have been justified because I was really late, but they didn't. So there was no reason for me to believe that being late by something between not at all and two minutes would result in rejection. I'd seen plenty of parents stroll in at the deadline. In five years, they were NEVER strict about this.
At some point, I was almost in tears, begging her to let my kid stay because I genuinely didn't know what I was going to do. And my daughter was crying because she thought she wouldn't be able to go on the trip. I'd known Lucy for about six years--she was new as trip director, but she taught my kids dance several years ago. She was a new mom, so I thought she'd be sympathetic. But no.
Finally, I saw the owner of the daycare, who I also knew pretty well. I flagged her down and told her I was two minutes late, could my kid go on the trip. She said, "Of course! We always do a five-minute window!" I had a feeling she'd say this, but I didn't want to go over Lucy's head. But I had no choice, and Lucy had to eat it.
So my daughter got to go on the trip, I got to go to work, so technically, I WON. But I was fuming all day. I felt like Lucy had an opportunity to very easily be decent to me and she chose not to for no reason other than... I have no idea what.