Tuesday, January 15, 2008
How was your day today? Mine was pretty good. I worked long hours, but at least the people make it entertaining. There's an elderly lady who always comes in carrying a straw basket and demanding walnuts. She then wants you to put the walnuts in two plastic bags and then put them in her basket. I forgot and asked her if she wanted a bag. She asserted that of course she wanted plastic bags. I told her that I have to ask because some people hate plastic bags (myself included), to which she scoffed "Hate plastic bags! That's silly. There's no point to conserving plastic bags. There's no point. What people don't realize is that plastic doesn't come from trees!" And with a hearty laugh she took her walnuts, basket, and plastic bags and left.
Around 2 o'clock Vicky, the new girl, came in. She is approximately 5' tall, 70lbs, and has the cute freckled look of Punky Brewster. She is 16 years old. This being younger than my youngest sibling, I have little means of identifying with her. While she has been busy learning codes and trying not to screw up (ah remember those days?) today we got a chance to talk. She finished secondary school last June and doesn't seem to have plans for further education. She lives with her dad on a houseboat, and on her days off she likes to lay around in her pajamas eating chocolate biscuits. So far so good. Here's what I don't understand: she spends every weekend at her boyfriend's (and his parents') house, and she's pretty sure he's going to propose on her 17th birthday next summer.
"How long have you been together?" I query. About 8 months. "How old is he?" "Seventeen-- you know, an older man." "How old do you have to be to get married in England?" "You can be 17 if both your parents give consent." I had to keep myself from laughing. You're not old enough to sign your own permission slips, but you're old enough to get married. People said that Ryan and I were awful young to get married! And I feel like it some days; I'd love to take my days off and lay around in pajamas watching TV and eating chocolate. But there's laundry to do and recycling to be sorted, and what's more we can't afford a TV right now; so its time to start acting like an adult even if I'm not convinced of it.
"His mom will probably be mad if we get engaged, she doesn't like me, but now that I've got a proper job she'll see I'm not going to lead him down the wrong path." I nodded, too much a stranger to give my opinions on the matter. I watched Vicky as a woman with a baby stroller walked to her till. Vicky cooed at the baby and all I could do was shake my head.
Did you know that Britain has the highest rate of teen pregnancies in all of Europe?