A local high school is removing a few dozen students from the school bus route because the board realized the kids are within official walking distance to the school - 3.2 km. Families are upset because they can't afford the bus fare, their teenagers can't be expected to walk that far, and, during a couple weeks of December and January, the sun will be just about to rise when they embark on their morning trek. One parent commented in The Record, "I will not make them walk. It is way too far."
Google maps estimates it takes the average person 35 minutes to walk 3K. I can do it in less, and I'm really old, so I'm tipping that average to the one end. Yet the parents of these healthy young men and women don't expect their kids to be able to make it in less than 45 minutes.
"It's a hell of a walk."
Some are concerned with safety in the dark since the walk passes an industrial park, but I'm not convinced sunrise is prime time for muggings. And it's not really "after dark" when they'll be walking - implying late evening, but actually before dawn. And only just - by minutes. And I'm also not convinced industrial areas are in some way more dangerous than city streets.
Here's my old geezer story: Back in the day, when I was in middle school (11-13 years old), we had to walk over 3K to school in the rain and snow and sleet, and NOBODY CARED!! None of our parents rallied to have us bussed! None of them felt remotely bad for our plight! We trudged through adverse conditions for three whole kilometres in torrential downpours or baking sun, and not one of the parents in the area ever offered us a ride. I clearly remember a blizzard one year: snow was almost waist high and yet our troubles did nary make dinner table headlines. And I'm really short, so it was even higher on me!
"It'll build character," my dad told me. "Walking is good for what ails ya," my ma agreed. Seriously, they talked like that. "Quit yer bellyachin' already. Count your lucky stars you don't have to walk twice as far just for a glass of water like some people do!" We couldn't get air conditioning either. "It'll prevent your body from acclimatizing to the heat." Ya whatever, dad.
So, maybe I'm just jealous that their complaints made front-page news, but I dare say we're raising a fussy lot. In my day, in good stoic fashion, we were ever reminded of those less fortunate than ourselves. And we learned to cope. We learned to find the strength within to trudge through the depths, and we were all on time for school. And some of us even learned to enjoy the daily ritual of losing ourselves in the rhythm of each step.
We've had it good for too long now. We need headlines and posters and constant reminders of what real adversity looks like. Because if we think this is bad, we might be in for a real shocker a few decades from now.