Sunday, October 15, 2006

Carl's Story Part 16: Trip and consequences

Though Carl could have stayed in Job Corps much longer, he choose to complete the shortest program they had in business, basic accounting. He finished the program and got his bonus in the summer 2003.

He came to our house to tell us his plans. He was very serious and said that he knew I would probably think that this was unwise, but he really wanted to do it and he had worked out all the details. He was going to go on a road trip with some friends from Job Corps. They were going to follow Tori Amos on tour. He knew it was rash and he knew that I would probably not approve, but they had figured out a budget. With the money they would get from Job Corps they could do it and he should be back in time to house-sit for us when we left for Maine.

He was preparing himself for the lecture. He had all his arguments laid out. I told him that he was right, I did not think it was a good idea. He was taking all of his money and taking a big risk. I would prefer that he stay in Job Corps and do more advance training. They would help him to find a job.

He said that he was young and if he didn't do something for himself now, he never would get the chance again. Now was the time to travel and see something of the world. He would be careful and he had enough money.

I told him that I would not rescue him if he got stranded and that he absolutely could not house sit for me when he got back.

"Why not?"

"This plan is guaranteed to leave you unemployeed, broke, and homeless. You cannot move in under those circumstances. You must come up with your own plan."

I got a call from someone at Job Corps who was disappointed that he was leaving. He wanted to know if it was true that Carl was traveling to visit his birth father. I told him that Carl did not know for certain what country his birth father was in.

So Carl went. He called one day in a panic after learning that they had unknowingly transported a runaway over state lines. He also, predictably, called about 150miles away broke, out of gas, and hungry. I wired him $50. Of course.

When he came back he moved in with friends. He did not find a job and after a couple of weeks he and his buddy were asked to move out. He showed up at my office at work.

He was broke, unemployeed and homeless.

I gave him the lunch I had packed for myself and called his social worker. I told him that I loved him and that I wanted him to keep in touch. They did have some gas and were able to drive to The City. The agency had had some event the night before and the refigerator was full of food. The social worker fed the boys and wrapped up food that would keep at room temperature. Then she took them to housing program.* It was a week before he could get in. During that week he lived out of his friend's car. We did pick him up one afternoon. We bought him lunch, vitamins, and a haircut, then we put him back on the street.

He lived in the temporary housing place for less than two months. He found a job and moved out the day he got his first pay check -- even though everyone recommended that he stay a little longer. It made sense to everyone else: get a few paychecks and leave with savings.

* We no longer have anything like it, but the housing place was wonderful. It was not a homeless shelter, it was temporary housing for the homeless. Once you got in you got to live there. Carl was in the men's dormitory, which meant one large room with I don't know how many cots. Everyone had their own locker though. If you were sick or worked nights you could stay there during the day. You had to go to workshops on budgeting and applying for jobs. Of course you also had to actually apply. It was possible to live there for up to 3 months. There were separate rooms for families and the top floor was reserved for veterans who could stay indefinitely.

The building is still there, but now it is a homeless shelter run by fundamentalist Christians.

Part 17

1 comment:

  1. how tough that must be to put someone you care about on the street. I agree with the decisions, but will you talk about the process you went through to get to that point?


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