Illustration by Bob AulWe're stopped at a red light in our cars at a busy suburban intersection. You're in a gigantic, late-model SUV in front of me, conducting some sort of business. The light changes; you're not looking. I honk timidly; you don't hear. Perhaps you've got some sort of hands-free phone, or perhaps your radio is on. I honk again, less timidly, and you still don't move. I try to maneuver my minivan into the next lane so I might stand a chance of getting to work on time. That's when I notice your license-plate frame. It reads, "Get a Real Job. Be a Mom." Sheesh. I miss the last green light for what seems like ages. This gives me time to reflect on two things: first, now I'm set up for an unsafe lane change (d'oh!), and second, that license-plate frame. What self-righteousness! You see, I'm a working parent. I work full time so my spouse can be home with our young child. It just so happens I'm the child's mother. And I'm in a hurry to get to work because my co-worker, a single, working mom, has to take a lunch break at a specific time to administer medication to her disabled child. I suppose she doesn't have a "real" job either, huh? What kind of insulated, self-satisfied world do you inhabit? Sure, I've spaced out at stoplights myself, and yeah, maybe it looked really mean-spirited for me to speed ahead and change lanes in front of you to make my right-hand turn. But, ma'am, wake up. And I don't only mean pay attention to the road, although you may want to give that a try. Things are infinitely more complex than "Get a Real Job. Be a Mom." These are tough times, and I'm not willing to say someone else's way of scraping out a living and putting food on the table is somehow morally inferior to mine. Apparently, you are. Get over it.
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