Troubled Youth

Troubled Youth

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Troubled Youth

I started the first day very fearless, yet reserved. I knew had to face this challenge head on. At the time I was working a regular job during the night for about eight hours a day. The accomplishment was different though; it happened shortly after receiving the job. I was just beginning community service at the same time at a local elementary school as a helper to the janitors. The crime was petty but it inhibited fifty hours of free service to the local education center.

I chose this place because of its relative ease, and it was also an area I could easily get to and from. Upon first arrival I met the principal of the school. He would be my superior, but my first impression explained to me what he was all about. He was a fairly easy going man, and was straightforward when he needed to be. I found this to be true with many people that I have met who are of his same stature. He was about the size of the students attending. The irony of this anomaly was the vehicle he drove, a station wagon raised with massive tires and even more exemplified by the large lights strewn above the windshield of the car. I would see this machine on a regular basis and always think, “How in the hell does he get in?”

The head janitor was very tall, and not very muscular. He was an amazingly friendly man, and I could tell he was passionate about his job, but was very restrained socially because of the people he was forced to communicate with on a daily basis. There were two other janitors, underlings of the head janitor. One was a short black man, he had been originally from Kenya, his English was horrible but he was a very life loving man. When he would sporadically speak, it was mainly just to mock his associate janitor.

The associate of the Kenyan man was a very enthralling person. Everybody around me scoffed at him, to his face and behind his back. This really didn’t matter to him due to the fact that he was mentally unstable. He dragged his feet while walking and could barely hold his up in any given situation. His speech was often times so slurred that he would say something everyone in the room would look at him, and then ignore what had just happened and go back to their business.

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I spent most of the days on a routine. We would go from room to room, cleaning everything. We listened to the same radio station everyday. The music spoke of different times, old values that no longer have function, and have been forgotten. I enjoyed these rather uplifting songs and I too began to feel the positive message they once spoke.

Throughout the days thoughts and ramblings filled my head to surpass the time, and I would often times remember my years as an elementary student. Innocence once carried by all who inhabit that world has been all but forgotten and it’s hard to believe how far the time has unwound. Remembering the thought I once had questioning what it would be like when I’m older and how will things have changed? I lost the very principles that I held so high at that time, and this is reason for wondering. This heavy reminder played my mind, often times trickling déjà vu. This connection was an uncanny way of me trying to find answers to questions that I am just now beginning to ask.

The worst work I had to endure was on my second day when I was told to spray-paint dinosaur footprints around the entire recess blacktop. Each print differed from color to color, and I painted in total 217 footprints. I remember this very distinctively because I would count each of them. This was my only way of passing time and forgetting about the sun melting me with each ensuing step me into the black tarmac, experiencing the hopeless fate of many dinosaurs in their final hours.

Days had passed and I had become very well liked by my janitor friends. We travel sometimes, ditching work in hope for better times; loathing around the supermarket, eating lunch at a nearby Wendy’s, and taking washing the head janitor’s very reason working, his cherished black truck. I followed the janitors into their lowly habitat. They had taken over an old office in the backroom beside the gym. It was a fairly sized room, carpeted and very well furbished. They sported two couches, and an old torn reclining leather chair. This is where they spent most schooldays, hiding from the world of opportunity, and never seeking more. This was the true clench of American society, a world all to them; their boundaries were only limited by accomplishment.

These very thoughts only made me wonder, and realize the true purpose of my observations. No one should live in a way that shelters them from true happiness. There must be some way of finding some true joy beyond material shelter.
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