Saturday, April 2, 2011

Nissan, Safe Routes, and Barberry

So this post is about several hours of my life last Thursday (3/31/11). Last spring, back when my kids were still going to the local elementary school, I went to a meeting with various city representatives to discuss what could be done to make it easier for kids to walk to the elementary school (a program called "Safe Routes"). I was the only parent to show up. There was a follow-up meeting scheduled for this past Thursday at 3:30. When I asked if they still wanted me to show up even though I was homeschooling my kids this year, they said yes, since I was the only parent representative, I probably should.

In my never-ending pursuit of getting the van dealt with, I had scheduled to bring it in to Nissan at 1:30 on Thursday to get the rear o2 sensor replaced (which would be the fourth time it was replaced since I bought the van 7 months ago). The kids and I were going to hang out in Nissan's waiting room while they did it. We showed up, and ten or fifteen minutes later the very nice lady came and told us she was very sorry, but the part hadn't arrived yet. It should be on their parts truck, which would come in later that day, and would we mind coming back between four and five? I said ok. We went home.

I had warned the Safe Routes people that I might not be able to make the meeting because I was having van issues. I was tempted to skip the meeting entirely, but I turned to God to ask him if I should go, and I got the sense that I should. So I packed up the kids, and we went. I got there about 15 minutes late, I think, although it seemed like they were just starting. I was there for maybe twenty minutes before Nissan called back to say the part was in. I had to leave right away. I gave them a couple of quick thoughts, rounded up the kids, and left again.

But in that time, I learned one thing. They were cutting the bus service to 188th.

It so happens that I know something about 188th. The kids that get bussed from that street live in a couple apartment complexes, one of which is Barberry. Barberry is an apartment complex that has a reputation for being... well, for being a particularly bad complex in a neighborhood with lots of crummy complexes, a neighborhood reeking of crime and poverty. There's a group of young Christians who made a choice to live at Barberry as a sort of mission work - putting on dinners, building community, getting to know and help the residents however they can.

So I'm planning - if I don't put it off too long - to get in touch with them and see if they can help the residents adjust to having to get their kids to and from school without being bussed. Maybe organize a few of the parents to walk the kids in a group or something. Because when you're crazy poor, not having buses can actually be a really big issue to you.

And I'm thinking.... I barely spent any time at all at this meeting. Is this why God wanted me to go? Did he want me to go, so that I could connect with Barberry people and try to smooth things over?

(And just so you get a feel for what a hassle this van is, when I got to Nissan after the Safe Routes meeting, they discovered that the part that had come in was the wrong part. This wasn't their fault; the Gresham Ford dealership had had the same thing happen, apparently because of an error in the Ford catalogue, or something like that. The very nice Nissan lady offered to have my van cleaned, as a way of paying me back for bringing me out twice without accomplishing anything. They speed-ordered the right part and installed it this morning.)

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