2:16pm

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2:16pm. The skinny woman in front of me had just bought two carts, $416.23 worth of food, half with a government aided food stamps program. I totaled it out, tapped sign off twice on the keyboard in front of me and ran straight into a shopping cart being loaded by a first day bagger. Singing apologies behind me, I sprinted to the time clock.

Star-2-3-3-2-8-0-3-4, I punched in; it let me out. I threw of my Ralphs shirt to the tiles next to me, ruffled a mahogany Health Food Shop shirt out of the olive green messenger bag laying at my side, and put it on. This was my senior year. I expected to sleep past the afternoon, not sidestep labor laws by working 7am to 11pm on weekends.

Outside, the blue sky formed crisp lines to the buildings in the distance, and the sun burst with a luminous outpouring of white light. I wondered if I could just let it all go; ride my bike down the trail all the way to the beach as the blue sign promised it would lead to. No, I had responsibilities to uphold and a signed letter from Dr. Opacic from the High School of the Arts reminding me that I had yet to complete my $3,000 share of the collective debt that the Creative Writing department at the school needed to pay off for the year.

2:26pm. I peddled harder. My parents told me although "oh-god-this-school-will-make-us-homeless", they supported my job as a means to pay for it. I had demanded, since I was four, to be independent; This was another brick, cementing me into adulthood.

My parents have given me the rhetorical answer to the rhetorical question, “why”. Why not? The limits they set stood low against the freedoms they gave me to do. When I got in over my head, I went to them and asked their opinion on what I could do, but in the end, they led me to my own answer.

When my dad lost his job last year, they did not ask me to change anything. The lessons I learned, however, told me to stand up and help. I applied for a second job and got it. With the extra money, I could pay for school and still use the extra help pay for groceries.

I ran into the deli at 2:31pm, one minute late, but with time. Other seniors might be able to sleep in until noon, or use their job money for videogames, but I have learned to react and take control of my decisions.

My parents never forced right and wrong. Instead, they gave me shades of gray—preferences instead of rules. They did not give me their opinions, but sought to bring my own out. This has made me less sewn to the pressures that would gust me to a path that is not wrong, just not my own. Using the world they helped me construct, I can place more faith in my own decisions, and begin to understand that wrong is right seen through a different lens.

Someday I wish to be a lawyer, or somewhere in law. There I can reflect what I have been taught—learning more about why people disagree about the same event, and represent those untouchables whose actions do not agree with the standards set in social context. I want to smudge the line between right and wrong, and view into the gradient world we live.





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