Once upon a time there was a young woman. The young women went for a walk one night just because she liked to go for walks. As she was walking, she decided that she would like to get something to eat.
She discovered that she didn’t have very much money, so she thought she should go to the bank just in case. As she very wisely said to herself, you just never know. Now she knew the bank wouldn’t be open because it was too late, but that was okay because she had a bank card and could use the machine.
When she got to the bank there was a sign on the door that said bank machines were only available to the public when the bank was open. At all other times customers were welcome to use the drive–by banking equipment provided for their convenience around the other side of the bank.
The young woman looked at her feet and wondered if she could still use the drive through window. She walked around to the side of the bank where the road went beside it to go and use the drive through bank machine. There was a big sign just in front of the driveway that said “Access Restricted To Vehicular Traffic.” Underneath was another sign that said, in case you had missed the point the first time, “No Pedestrians.”
Carefully she looked around and saw no cars coming so she walked down to see if she could use the bank machine without being in a car. Thankfully the machine could not tell that she wasn’t in a vehicle and so it was very happy to give her the money she wanted. Well she thought, as she put her money away, that wasn’t too bad.
All of a sudden she was pinned to the wall by a blinding spotlight. The next thing she knew a pick up truck was screeching to a halt just in front of her with its horn blaring loudly. Trying to see beyond the blaze of high beams she staggered away while from behind her she heard a belligerent voice swearing and yelling at her.
When she could see and hear again, and was able to get her bearings, she remembered that she was hungry. It being just after midnight she knew that only the fast food places in her neighbourhood would be open. She had read the sign on the door of the one across the street earlier and it had declared that they were “open late to serve you better.” That meant tonight it was open until one in the morning, so she could go there with plenty of time to spare.
A chicken sandwich, she thought, would be just the thing to make her fell better about life, the universe, and everything. After she crossed the large empty parking lot full of cold wind and paper that liked her ankles so much that all of it wrapped around her feet, she was even hungrier and quite a bit colder.
The first door she came to was locked, but as it was at the side of the building that was okay and she wasn’t too worried. When the second door was locked as well she began to get puzzled and a little nervous. She was very hungry and cold after all. But when the third door was locked; the one with the sign on it saying they were open late to serve you better; until one in the morning tonight in fact, attached to the glass, she got angry.
It wasn’t the anger of wanting to yell at people, it was the frustrated and near tears type of anger that happens when you don’t understand what is going on. She decided to keep walking around the building, just because there was nothing else she could think of doing.
All of a sudden she saw a window that stuck out from the wall that looked out over a driveway that ran down along the fourth side of the restaurant. There was a very welcoming looking light shining out of the window. Not the type that said we’ve left the light on after we’ve all gone home, but one that said “hi, we’re still open”. Well, she thought, a take out window is better than nothing, she could take her food home with her, or maybe find somewhere sheltered to sit outside and eat it.
She had only just begun to walk towards the window when she saw the sign: DRIVE THROUGH WINDOW: NO PEDESTRIAN TRAFFIC. She came to a complete stop in the middle of the driveway just like she had run into a brick wall. She thought she was going to cry. It was so unfair; they said they were open to one in the morning, not open only for cars.
She didn’t own a car; she didn’t even know how to drive. Wasn’t it bad enough that the sidewalks stopped for no apparent reason, that everywhere you went there were massive parking lots but nowhere for people to walk? Now, not only couldn’t you get money out of banks after dark if you didn’t drive a car, you also weren’t allowed to buy food late at night.
She didn’t know what she was going to do and she began pacing up and down in front of the window not realizing there was actually someone sitting behind the glass. It wasn’t until she looked up in mid-pace to see a young man’s face looking out at her that she realized she wasn’t alone.
She walked up to the window and he reached out and rolled it open. When she got there she looked up at him. “I know this isn’t your fault, and I’m not mad at you or blaming you, but what the fuck is going on that I can’t buy food here if I don’t have a car? It says your open to one in the morning on your door but I can’t buy anything because I don’t know how to drive.”
“Don’t you think that people who don’t own cars might get hungry after dark? Is it so strange for people to go out for a walk that no one is prepared to feed or do anything for you if you don’t have a car?” She stopped talking then, because she did not want to start crying in front of the young man.
She had said earlier to him she didn’t want to blame him and she had meant that. He was only working there; he didn’t make company policy and didn’t deserve to have some crazy woman burst into angry tears in front of him.
He looked over at her and said, “What would you like?”
Then she did start to cry, but quietly and not so anyone could notice when she talked. “A chicken sandwich please.”
“You’ll have to go to the next window to get it and pay for it,” he said. He closed the window and they both walked along, him on the inside, she in the driveway, until they got to the next window. He opened the window and took her money and started to give her back change.
As he was doing that she heard a voice from inside the restaurant start saying loudly, “What are you doing?” The young man was obviously ignoring it because he just reached out and handed her the chicken sandwich. “Have a good night,” he said.
“Thank you,” she said, and meant it. As she walked away to look for somewhere to eat her sandwich she hoped he wouldn’t get into trouble for selling her a sandwich in the drive-through. She found a spot under a willow tree that was sheltered from the wind by a building and sat down to eat her sandwich.
All this trouble to get some money and a sandwich after dark because she didn’t drive a car, and she wondered when had the world changed into being so unfriendly to people?
When had it become a world where you didn’t exist if you didn’t own a car? She really hoped the young man didn’t lose his job.