by: Rebecca Taylor
It mattered, I had tried telling myself that it didn’t and I could move on. But the truth was, I couldn’t hide from the way I felt about my wanting to be a mechanic. My parents didn’t understand. My dad and his new wife thought I should go to an upscale college not far from them. After all, my dad had money now and he wanted to show people that he could make things right for his family after so many years of living from paycheck to paycheck. My dad hadn’t really worked that hard for his new money though, it belonged to my stepmom, her father owned a big corporation and my dad is reaping the rewards. Now, don’t get me wrong. My dad is a nice guy, but sometimes he doesn’t make the smartest choices. I know that he loves my stepmom, and he’s going to love my little brother or sister once he or she is born this fall, but that doesn’t change the fact that he doesn’t want to listen to what I want. I’m seventeen years old and most of the time I live with my mom. We live in an apartment in the school district I grew up in. It’s a nicer apartment than the one we had when my mom and dad were together because my dad set us up. My mom said we were doing just fine on our own, but he insisted. I guess he didn’t want to look bad, him having so much and us living in a run-down apartment block.
Who am I anyways? Beth Connelly, a senior in high school, who likes mechanics class more than any other class at school. I like getting my hands dirty fixing things and changing tires. I don’t want to go and see in a classroom and learn how to become the head of a company or a corporate lawyer or anything like that. My mom isn’t sure that I should be a mechanic either, but her reluctance is based on the fact that she is concerned that I will have a problem finding a job, because no one is going to want to hire a female mechanic, at least not for the right reasons, she said. I told her not hiring me because of my gender is called discrimination and that is against the law.
“I know that,” she told me, “but you’ll be fresh out of school and that means you won’t have the experience everyone’s going to want to have and that will make it easier to hire a man over you.”
“I’ll knock on doors, I’ll find somewhere, and someday maybe I will start my own garage.”
“Those are pipe dreams, Beth,” she said, “you need to have a steady job, something that is going to feed you and pay the bills, otherwise you could end up working more than one job and never have time to see your kids or your husband.”
“I don’t want kids or a husband, at least not now,” I had answered, “I want to have a chance to be a mechanic. What’s wrong with doing that? Most families own at least one car if not more, there’s work out there for me. I can go to the vocational center and get all the training that I need. I can get my papers in it; I’d still be pursuing a post-secondary education.”
My mom and I changed the subject after that. We weren’t getting anywhere. I know she doesn’t have enough money to send me to school to be a mechanic anyways and my dad does but seeing as how I’m not doing what he wants, he probably won’t give me the money, but it doesn’t matter. I can work after high school, I’ll waitress or be a cashier, or pump gasoline to get where I want to be. For a while, I thought I could just go along with what my dad and stepmom wanted as if it didn’t matter that I had other plans for MY life, but I’ve changed my mind. Being happy matters and going to school and being bored because I don’t care about classes like corporate economics, isn’t what I want. Once I graduate from school, I will have to work for forty or so years before I can retire, doing what I want is going to matter. My family might not like it, but that’s too bad because I’ve decided to be honest with myself and with them. The truth is I am going to be a female mechanic and anyone who doesn’t like it can just learn to get over it.