The Young Mother
Both can’t take time off to have the car inspected, so one must answer for the other.
Only sometimes, now and then, I decide. Like this morning. For the young mother with
the newborn and the toddler ramming his car into the counter grout. Her husband’s
been harvesting for three days straight, she tells me. In the middle of the night he’d left
a note scribbled on a donut sack: Get the Ford inspected, it said. She hands me the
paper-stuffed sack. What she doesn’t say–maybe can’t say–is that she’s desperate for a
break from her babies. A quick shower. A nap. I write or between their names on the
inspection form. I ask beforehand, do my clerk duty, but she doesn’t hear. And I worry
about her driving home, worry she’ll nod off on some shoulderless gravel road.
The noon hour. Mister comes prepared. The out-of-state title neatly folded with receipts
from last weekend’s car auction in Omaha. He tells me or before I’ve even pulled the
form from the drawer. I recognize this level of efficiency. It means he has a black suit in
his closet at home. In dry-cleaner’s plastic with a white shirt and tie.…