Skip to content Skip to footer

Late for school

One of my Uber Chronicles stories.

My passenger is white, 16, female. She smells like soap, but not girly soap. Soap. She’s heading to school, though it’s after 10:30 a.m. 

She says she missed the school bus, then she tried to go to school this morning but the traffic was so bad she couldn’t get there. I consider saying that there is a difference between “couldn’t” and “didn’t try,” but I leave it. She’s 16. She’ll learn about the integrity of her words in time. For all I know, maybe it was her parents who didn’t feel like dealing with the traffic.

I notice my own mind is whirling with comparisons of the world in which I grew up, e.g. it’s Tuesday, there is school today, regardless of how I feel, I have to be at school on time, for the whole day. That’s what my parents told me. That’s what I did.  Rinse and repeat by how many days of school there are in a year minus an occasional–and I do mean occasional–sick day. 

It would have to be an extreme circumstance for either of my parents to drive me to school if I missed the bus or, even more fantastically, put me in a $12.07 cab ride to get to school. No, I’d be walking. But it is a different world, and the cultural attitudes around forgiving, protecting and supporting children are different now. I drop her off at 11 a.m. on the nose in front of her school.

Key experience: I am who I am, in part, because in my earlier years I had to get up every single school day and get to school; in the summer, to swim team practice; and after school in the spring and fall, to soccer practice. And she will be who she is because of a significantly stronger sense of adult care and protection. Neither is better. It just is what it is.