There are tons of children being raised in this world without parents to take care of them. Whether it be from the circumstances of unfit parents, a runaway child, a child in an orphanage, or one in foster care, there are children out there that need proper guidance but in no way are getting the help they need.
My day job consists of providing animal and pest control services throughout the bay area. One of our primary duties is to fumigate homes. Usually, when people request a bed bug exterminator, the house is usually ready for service. A few years back, as I was getting ready to start fumigating, I did a final sweep of the home to make sure there wasn’t anything out of place and everything necessary was vacated. As a checked the final room, I heard a cough come from the closet. I approached it, and to my surprise, there was a teenage boy hiding and trying to sleep in the closet.
This had never happened before. There was a boy, definitely high school age, hiding out, obviously hoping not to be seen, and possibly didn’t know exactly what was about to happen in the home.
I asked him “What are you doing in this house? Did you stay behind while your folks went away while we fumigated the house?”
Startled, he fully woke up and came to his senses and swiftly sprung up and said “Please don’t call the police, I just don’t want to go back there.”
“Back where? Is this not your home?”
“I don’t have a home, I don’t want to go back either!” Becoming a little more relaxed after sensing my calmness, he indulged, “I live at an orphanage, and nobody ever picks me to go live at a house, so I’m sleeping in empty houses and go to school, but I haven’t had a place to sleep for the last week.”
“This house is about to be filled with poison, you can’t sleep here,” I explained. “Come with me and we can talk and let’s get your shelter figured out man, you can’t be sleeping in a closet.”
Sensing he had no better alternative than to follow me, he obliged and we exited the house.
“Go into my truck and grab the sandwich and Gatorade and you can lay down in the back and get some rest.”
I finished up my job setting up the house for fumigation, and after about an hour, I was able to go check on the boy in my truck. He was out cold, sleeping in the back.
“Hey bud, what do you want to do?”
Groggily, he woke up, I could tell he has not been much of a sleeper for awhile.
“I don’t know, I don’t have school for a couple weeks, I was just planning on finding sleep where I could get it during the nights. I have a sleeping bag in my backpack, you drop me off at the park, I’ve been safe there lately, nobody bothers me.”
“What the hell do I do?” I thought to myself. I can’t let this kid just be homeless, I’m not doing anything other than working and sitting around on my computer, what’s the problem to just let him sleep on the couch at my studio apartment. I’ll help him figure out a living situation because I know he obviously is not going back to the orphanage. He already made the jump this far, might as well help him if he can help me.
“Alright, listen here. You’re not sleeping in the park anymore. I know you aren’t going back to the orphanage. Come sit in the front seat with me, I need to look you in the eyes.”
“Ha, alright, what?” He said as he climbed over into the front of my pickup truck.
As he sat down, I looked him in the eyes, and stared at him as he stared and pondered at what I was doing. I stared at him for about 20 seconds before he said to me, “what’s the deal sir?”
He called me sir, that was pretty polite.
“I wanted to look in your eyes and figure out if this will be worth it.”
“If what will be worth it?”
“You can stay at my place. It’s not a big shelter, but it’s better than poison, and it’s better than the streets. I’ll feed you best I can, and if you go to school and help me out with a couple house chores as well as continue to remain respectful, I’ll give you some stability.”
“Look sir, that’s not necessary. Nobody wanted to take care of me so far, I don’t need it now. That’s a nice offer and I appreciate it, but I only got another year of school and I’m getting a scholarship and gonna support myself. I haven’t been helped before, and I don’t think I need it.”
“So what’s your plan when the school year begins?”
“I’ll figure it out, I know some people that might let me sleep in their yards or something.”
“We live in the bay area man, come one, you ain’t sleeping in no yard come Winter and Fall. You do remember that since you have been homeless, the weather has been rarely stable. It’s about to get worse and I think I could help you with some guidance. This could be mutually beneficial, I need to learn how to take care of someone other than myself, and you need food and sleep while you go to school to get a scholarship. Just try it out for a couple nights, if it doesn’t work out between us, you can try out some of your friends yards.”
He sat in silence. Didn’t say a word for what felt like forever, but was probably only 30 seconds. I sat staring, and he knew it, but remained looking forward out the front window of my pickup truck. Without saying a word, I saw his eyes well up, and he just gave a simple nod, and said, “Sir.”
To be continued.