Young Sarah looked up at the bulletin board outside the principal's office and did her very best to appear nonchalant and disinterested. Inside she was a seething caldron of mixed emotions and hopeful anticipation. Out of sight of those around her, she kept her fingers crossed as if calling upon unseen forces to put her name on the list in front of her.
It was not a list for academic achievement, nor was it a list for selection to some silly committee or athletic team. It was a list for the students selected to participate in the driver's education program in the final quarter of the school year. The school district funding had been cut back so drastically that the programs in all of the high schools were forced to serve only a limited number of students during the school year. This was the last chance Sarah would have to get the free training furnished by the education system.
Sarah was desperate to get the necessary training so that she would be able to either get her own car or use the family vehicle when she absolutely had to have a car. She looked despairingly at the printed list of names, which for some strange reason were not in alphabetical order, hoping against hope that her name would be included. Her anticipation slowly changed to dread as she slowly came to the end of the list.
"Oh, please let my name be there!"
She shook her crossed fingers as if to shake out some magic and there right at the very bottom she saw her name printed in bold black letters.
Sarah wanted to jump up and down and do a backwards flip like she used to do in gymnastics. However, she was more mature now. Accordingly, she did her level best to look bored with the whole thing. Sarah was determined not let on how excited she really was inside because then she would look disgustingly "uncool".
There were a lot of disappointed faces walking away from the board and Sarah felt sorry for them. She especially felt sorry for her best friend Jessica because she was counting on getting the classes before the summer started. Sarah was old enough to get her "learners" permit but Jessica was older by almost a year and a half and could drive by herself without an adult if she was able to pass the difficult driving test given before a license could be awarded to a new driver.
When they sat down at the cafeteria table later that day, Sarah tried to cheer her best friend up by telling her if she got her license, they would still be able to go to the beach and stuff. She could see the tears forming at the corners of Jessica's eyes and knew right away it was the wrong thing to say at the worst possible time. She decided it was probably better to just keep her mouth shut and change the subject to something interesting like shoes or the fantastic new vampire movie at the mall.
Sarah's father was relieved that she would be getting the lessons in school because he was so busy at work he knew he would have very little time to show her how to drive. The cost of the professional driving school was a little out of range right now because the economy was not very healthy. That was something that Sarah was not too familiar with since she found it difficult to see how having money had anything at all to do with being healthy. She wished they were like "rich" and she didn't have to worry about things like that.
Still, things were looking good and Wednesday morning would be her first driving lesson one on one with a driving instructor. Before that lesson, she would be getting instructions in the car with two other students as they rotated in the driver's seat. She was nervous about making mistakes with a lot of people watching but wanted to pass the course most of all.
The group lesson was actually a lot of fun and she made mistakes just like the others. The good part was that they could all laugh at their silly mistakes and the teacher was not the least bit upset when a mistake happened. The simple mechanics of turning and adjusting the mirrors and putting the brake on slowly coming up to a stop sign were no problem to Sarah. It was the stuff like parking in a small space and moving from lane to lane safely that seemed difficult to her. The instructor who was also a substitute science teacher told them all that it was something that came with "experience" just like most things in life.
She was bubbling over with her news about the lessons and forgot Jessica was listening to her babble all about it. When she saw her best friend put her head down almost in her plate, Sarah turned to her and told her that they would figure out a way for her to get her lessons too.
It was a rash promise because when Sarah asked her daddy how much the lessons cost at the professional school, he told her,
"$625 with tax, honey, and I am so glad you are getting them for free!"
She checked her piggy bank and found that all she had was $88.55 and it was a long way from $625. Her sister told her she could "borrow" $90 from her but she would have to repay her $100 by the end of the summer. Her brother told her he didn't have any money at all. That was not unusual for him because he spent it before it burned a hole in his pocket.
Her mom told her she would pay her $25 if she promised to walk the dogs every day right after school and again right after dinner. She didn't mind that at all because she liked walking the dogs and meeting the neighbors and talking. All of a sudden she had just a little over $200 and it seemed like building it up to $625 was in the realm of possibility.