Thomas

It’s back to school time.  For my Lyft driving what this means is; look out for School Zones, and the morning traffic becomes even more let’s say, ‘clogged’.  In my two years of Lyft driving I have had a couple of dozen rides where an adult calls for a ride but the passenger is a child. I have done everything from taking two kids to a sleepover in a downtown high rise, to picking up four wild boys after baseball practice.  Often the adult who is ordering the ride will call to make sure I understand the situation, and to make sure I am ok with it.  I got just such a call last week.

The call was from a woman who explained that I would be picking up her grandson named Thomas, and taking him from old Aurora to a charter school in downtown Denver.  I pulled up to a public housing complex that was NOT the ‘burbs’.  It took him about two seconds to get out to my car.  He was sporting a ‘Super-Hero’ back pack and he opened the front door and politely asked me if I minded if he sat in front.  It was obvious he was a seasoned ride share companion.  What came in the 25 minute ride was a delightful engagement with a nine year old who was very clear about how he wanted his life to be.  It became obvious that his motivation was based on a relationship with his grandmother (she ordered the ride) and the hard reality that both of his parents were in prison. 

“So do you like driving your car and taking kids like me”?  I thought that was a pretty insightful question for a 4th grader.  “I really do.  I get to find out what is going on in the world 🌎 I live in.  So what is your favorite subject”?  “Oh, that’s easy, math.  I love math. I am really good at math”!   My heart was smiling.  I confess my own biases and stereotypes were in a collision with this reality as this dynamo of a kid was deconstructing my biased preconceptions of who lives in public housing.  Yes—I will name it; I was face to face with the residue of my own white male privilege. The conversation continued. 

With no prompting or leading questions he talked openly about his goals for his life and how “I am not going down the wrong path”.  Then he asked me if I had kids.  “I have both kids and grandkids”.  “Do you spoil them”?  Once again he caught me off guard.  So I countered and asked him. “Why do you ask, does your grandmother spoil you”? There was a clear pause and then with an impish grin he answered “Well, maybe just a little bit”.

In our world where racism is once again being used as a strategy to gain political power, a young black kid reminded me of the power of hope.  Go Grandma!!!

Onward and Upward,

Mark

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