On a Sunday night, around 6:45, the mini-van, driven by a lone adult woman, pulls into a space of the diner parking lot. After a few minutes I realize she has not exited her vehicle and is just quietly reading in the van. Is she waiting for her dining companion so she doesn’t have to enter the diner alone, or is it something else entirely?
Just before 7 another vehicle, driven by a man, parks right next to the mini-van. The man does not exit the car or even look at the woman. Instead, a small boy about 10 years old gets out carrying a backpack, closes the car door and enters the mini-van, which promptly pulls out of the parking space, making a quick left turn out of the diner parking lot. The man sits in his car for a moment, checks his phone, then puts his car back in gear, and makes a right hand turn out of the lot.
I had just witnessed the Sunday evening end of visiting weekend transfer of a child from one divorced parent to another. I started to ponder about how many times on a Sunday evening this event must occur, and how for the most part I have been totally oblivious to it. As a happily married man of almost 30 years with two children, I have no first-hand experience with this part of our culture, and only a passing knowledge about. Sure, I know it occurs, but I have never done it (thankfully), none of my friends do it (thankfully), and I have only occasionally seen it.
After watching the exchange, I was struck that the parents never looked at one another during the transfer. I can only imagine how bitter and complete their divorce is that they cannot even say a few polite words to the other. I started thinking about how they even communicate to each other, since they are both responsible for the child in some way. Do they just text each other about arrangements, or do they only communicate through another party or a lawyer. A 10 year old kid must have a busy life, how do these parents share that life if they cannot communicate, even during a weekend transfer? For the sake of their child, I hope these parents can one day set aside their bitterness and share in the joys that await them in the years to come; birthday parties, proms, graduations, college, etc.
I also starting thinking about how our culture has many sub-cultures that I have little or no awareness about, or I am no longer a part of. Divorced parents, single parents, mixed race parents, parents that work different shifts, ultra-religious families, families of the disabled, families of the terminally ill, young adults just out of college, wrestling families, swim families, dance families, cheer families, etc. The list of sub-cultures (mini-cultures if you want) within our own society is endless, and unless you are a part of one you usually don’t think about them.
These sub-cultures or sub-groups fit into other parts of our life as well. The brand of car you own, the type of music you listen to, whether or not you own a mac or a PC, do you watch MSNBC or FOX news, are you a republican or democrat, conservative or liberal or somewhere down the middle do you like Springsteen or (god forbid) Bon Jovi. Each of us is part of the greater culture of our society, and at the same time we are all parts of sub-cultures that make us who we are. Being able to span these sub-cultures on a daily basis is one of the things that make our society thrive, and for that I am grateful. I’m just glad I’m not forced into being part of a group I wouldn’t enjoy.