A little over a year ago a woman showed up at my door looking for childcare. She was pushing her baby in one of those little collapsible strollers that sell for $9.99 at your local Wal-mart.
It wasn't until after I agreed to watch the kid that I realized she had no other form of transportation. She walked four or five miles to my house, dropped off her son, walked four or five miles to work, stood on her feet in the kitchen of an overheated little drive-thru for eight hours, then walked back up to my place. No gentle grade, Division Street. You make good use of your brakes on that hill.
But she was at my door like clockwork, every morning and every night; never made excuses. Her son was always clean and fed and she paid her meager bills on time. She kept her job and improved her situation, but in a sprawling community like ours, her options were limited. She said her mother never felt like teaching her to drive, and she didn't have a car to practice or take the test in, herself. So there she was: baby, stroller, backpack. Twenty-six years old, and literally pounding the pavement to survive.
Moses Lake is not an urban center serviced by reliable public transportation–you've got to get around on your own steam. Summer temperatures soar into the triple digits and there is precious little shade on the streets. Winters are cold and dark long before a fry-cook gets off work. There was no way I was letting what I soon came to think of as "my" baby suffer that walk home at night.
We drove her whenever we could, and arranged for some driving lessons. I remember thinking, What kind of mother wouldn't make sure her child had basic life skills like the ability to drive!? and being a little angry at this woman I didn't even know.
And then my daughter brought up the subject of Driver's Ed this fall.
She wants me to sign up early; she's horrified at the idea that the class starting directly after her birthday might be full. Have you called yet, Mom?
She fourteen years old and thinks I'm balking at the course fees.
She feels no dismay at the thought of sitting her fifteen-year-old self down in the driver's seat of a six-thousand-pound, thirty-thousand dollar machine and hurling it down narrow stretches of unforgiving asphalt, separated from other knuckle-head drivers by a four inch strip of latex paint.
Next thing you know she's going to think it's her God-given right to pilot one of those 747's they've got sitting around the Grant County airport.
They're just sitting there, Mom. C'mon! You know how much faster I could get to Seattle in a jet?
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