I have a young friend who has been functionally on her own since age 15. She has been through a lot, including an expected pregnancy (gave the baby up for adoption) and coming to terms with her family of origin’s issues and how it relates to self-worth. In the past 5 years, since she turned 18 and “aged out” of the people who had taken her in, she has accepted social assistance while juggling multiple jobs and living with 2 or more roommates in less desirable neighborhoods, all without a drivers license or car. That alone is quite an accomplishment, because our community has extremely limited public transportation. She has also been taking business and general education courses at the community college, in hopes of breaking out of the cycle of poverty. I am proud to be her friend, because she has so much to share and is truly worth knowing. Someday I hope she believes me and others who tell her that, but for right now, I am happy she has managed to come this far with minimal self-pity or complaints about her limited range of choices.
As of today her fortunes seem to be changing.
She applied for and was selected for a customer service position with one of the telecommunications giants. It’s several weeks of training during the day, after which she will be on rotating shifts in the call center. Full-time work, meaning probably no school this summer, but the job comes with benefits, including tuition reimbursement after the initial 90 days.
It’s a big moment in her life for a lot of reasons. The call center is across town from her present location, and without car or drivers license she is figuring out transportation. Training is weekdays on an 8 to 5 schedule, so that’s not a problem – she already has her route and bus schedule memorized to get her there at 7:30 in the morning and a bus home at 5:30 in the evenings. It’s 90 minutes in the morning, close to 2 hours home at night, but she can and will get to her new job. Once she starts shift work it will become an issue when she has to work evening shifts. However, her boyfriend has assured her he will pick her up after work until she can get her license and acquire a reliable vehicle. To that end he has been teaching her how to drive, and M will also step in and offer some additional driving lessons and a different perspective. Her plan is that once she passes probation, she will be take her driving test and use her small savings to purchase a safe and reliable beater car. We are all now keeping our eyes open for something in her price range.
It has been awhile since M and I were young and struggling. Even our children have never had this kind of uphill battle, because they had us, a home to return to every day, food on the table, even luxuries like a vehicle and insurance when they were just starting out. It is our priviledge to be part of this young woman’s life, to witness her triumphs as well as be a friend and a very modest safety net on very rare occasion. I have some apprehension about her moving across town and likely with strangers for the rest of the year, but I have faith in her ability to manage and know she will ask for help and advice as she needs it.
There is time to figure it out, because she starts on May 4. These are exciting times, though, and this is an occasion worthy of special celebration. It is nice when good things happen for good and deserving people.