Born Into Poverty
Lots of young mothers with babies ride the buses in Rochester. It was different in San Francisco. In SF, people from all walks of life would ride the bus; everyone from the crazy homeless man to the business executive in a crisp suit. But in Rochester, you can tell that the people who ride the bus are mostly not well off. I mean, you don’t wait twenty minutes in the freezing cold to transfer buses, unless you are short on options.
In the USA, one out of every four children is born into poverty. The statistic is a little misleading, because you might be born into poverty because your parents are going to grad school (and by the time you’re old enough to go to kindergarten, they’re making good salaries.) That was my situation. I was born while my dad was getting his PhD at CalTech, and my parents kept me in a bureau drawer until Uncle Beanie built them a crib. We still have the crib. We put Christmas presents in it every year.
Not every baby has an Uncle Beanie, I guess. Some of the mothers on the bus look like they are too busy taking care of their babies, to properly take care of themselves. They have dark circles under their eyes. Their persons might bear traces of their former selves, (like a pair of those giant golden earrings, or highlights in frizzled hair) but mostly it looks like they’re getting an early start on being old and tired.
It’s really hard to maneuver a baby onto the bus. You’re either carrying a stroller, or you’re carrying them in a big basket all wrapped up in quilts. It takes a lot of strength to haul all that gear up and down the bus steps. I know, because I remember my mother complaining about it, when my brothers were still young enough to need strollers.
I was waiting for the bus and there was this really cute baby, and everyone was talking to her. Usually we stand there in grim silence not speaking to each other, but when we were all talking to the baby, it was kind of like we were talking to each other. The mother was smiling because everyone was making such a fuss over her offspring. Then the little face twisted and began crying. An elderly woman said, “Why are you crying, baby? Are you crying because you’re cold?” It was a very cold day.
I just wish someone would give them all rides. Not all of us waiting for the bus, we don’t need it. But all the mothers and all the babies. At least on cold days. Where are the boyfriends and husbands? For that matter, where are the Uncle Beanies? Where are baby’s grandma and grandpa? None of them have cars? None of them can come?
Or none of them WANT to come?