Just reminded with that reblog about when the proverbial Missing Stair gets tolerated inside the family.
My own family has enough problems with ways it’s apparently OK to treat people, but luckily that wasn’t one of them that I ever knew about. Another thing which really shouldn’t involve luck. The idea is totally appalling, especially where it involves kids getting shoved to the bottom of the collective family priority bucket to the point of being actively placed in danger.
That didn’t mean that there weren’t several other people in the community with bad enough reputations and/or creepy enough behavior that I got warned to stay well away from them as a kid.
One of those lived right up the street from us for several years, and I played with his kids who were around the same age. But I was forbidden to ever go inside their house or be alone with the guy. He came across that wrong to my mother, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she’d also heard some things because smallish communities.
There were a few people like that, but that particular guy was the closest and the hardest to totally avoid. It didn’t even really strike me at the time just how messed up the whole situation was, especially for the children who were just not in a position to avoid these people. Including their own, too often 😦
Anyway, after a few years we moved, and I was honestly pretty glad to be away from Alicia’s Creepy Dad hanging around. (And that’s in a culture where dads are expected to pay more attention and spend more time with kids. Just…not like that.)
My family’s involvement with ACD wasn’t totally over, though! Because he owned a garage, and would pass basically anything not super blatantly dangerous on state car inspections for an extra $20.
Dude may have been creepy enough to warn your kid away, but that deal apparently looked like a tempting enough offer when inspection time rolled around and there wasn’t money for proper repairs. My mom didn’t even like to go there, and would get my dad to take the cars in for ACD’s special inspection deal so she didn’t have to deal with him. But, they still gave him money.
Anyway, I eventually got old enough to drive, and a while after that my $500 car came due for inspection.
($500 in like 1992, but still. The thing was a year younger than I was and mechanically sound, to the point that my dad was still driving it some when I left 10+ years later. But, it had a few quirks. Let’s put it that way.)
You can maybe see where this is going. For some reason, both of my parents were busy, and my mom turned pissy when I protested, insisting that I eventually needed to learn to handle these things on my own. Which happened a lot, tbqh. And of course in this case that involved going for the ACD Special Inspection Deal.
By myself, dealing with somebody who creeped me out and that she had explicitly told me never to be alone with. Maybe 17 was too old for him to act Like That, but I was just not willing to find out. I explained why I didn’t want to do that, and that got treated as ridiculous.
So yeah, I set up an inspection at a different garage. And it was all my fault when the car failed on a busted defroster and a missing California-only ‘70s vintage exhaust device. And it had to go back to the same garage to be reinspected.
I got to take back roads as much as possible and try to dodge cops for probably 6 months after that, especially trying to get to and from school in the next town. Until my dad could track down a junkyard smog pump for shipping (pre-modern Internet) and we could get the defroster reconnected enough to pass.
My mother would send me out to run errands in the no sticker car, and yell about it being all my own fault if I said a word. I did get a ticket at one point, not surprisingly. (And yelled at over that added expense, of course.) Mostly surprised it did only happen once. I got pretty good at avoiding places you often saw cops.
The whole thing was about as stressful as you might expect, especially for someone who’d only had a license for about a year at that point. I still think my mother’s behavior was inexcusable, but yeah she wasn’t ever about to admit she was wrong to begin with. If you could ask her now, I’m sure it would still be all my fault 25+ years later.
And I really was not in the wrong for being unwilling to deal with Neighborhood Missing Stair that I had been warned about, by myself, when I was 17 years old. And was offered no reasonable alternatives by people who should have known better.
Hadn’t thought about that experience for years, very possibly because I didn’t want to. But, reminded of it today. And I evidently needed to rant some.
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