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.