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I think a big change happens when Maya gets a job with the streetcar company. Maya goes to the offices of the streetcar company, and finds them run-down and shoddy. When she asks for the personnel manager, she gets a run-around because she is black; she gets the man's name, and is still determined to get the job. She visits the office frequently, over a number of weeks; finally, she fills out an application, takes some tests, and is hired as the first black streetcar conductor in San Francisco.
The job helps her to feel independent, as she is making her own money; her mother drives her to work early in the morning, and also picks her up whenever she needs it. When she does go back to school, she can't relate to the other pupils; she has seen and done too much, and grown too old, to have anything in common with them. She decides to tough it out, though, so she doesn't shame her mother. Growing up was certainly not easy for Maya, but she managed to get through it and not compromise herself in the process.