Troubled Youth

Troubled Youth

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Troubled Youth

Despite many obstacles in my life, my experience performing community service stands out as the most memorable. I was sixteen at the time, and just beginning my first job at a fast food restaurant. I had to learn how to balance between community service in the morning and my employment at the local Wendy’s. It was very stressful and influential at the same time.

I performed my community service at a local elementary school. I chose this place because of its relative ease, and it was also an area I could easily get to and from. I started my first day very confused and out of character. The school was very bland, and it brought back memories of the time that I had attended elementary school.

Upon first arrival I met the principal of the school. He was my superior and his first impression explained to me what he was all about. He was a fairly easy going man, and was straightforward. I found these qualities 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 exemplified even more by large round lights placed in between the headlights. I would see the principal’s machine on a regular basis and always think, “How in the hell does he get in?”

After meeting the principal I was taken to meet my fellow co-workers. I met first the head janitor, named Jim. He 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 who were followers of the head janitor. One was a short black man, named Carl. 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 janitor was very enthralling person, his name was Rick. Everybody around me poked fun at at him, sometimes to his face and other times behind his back. This really didn’t matter to him due to the fact that he was mentally unstable.

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He dragged his feet while walking and could barely hold his up at any given time. 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.

I learned how degrading these men were very early on. Rick would take cigarette breaks on the school property, behind the janitor’s secret hideout. I followed the janitors one day into this lowly habitat. They had taken over an old office in the backroom beside the gym. It was a moderately sized room, carpeted and very well furbished. They sported two couches, each with noticeable creases molded into the cushions. They also had an old torn reclining leather chair situated at the entrance, a great place to relax.

We sat down and they explained to me their lives as janitors. This is where they spent most schooldays, hiding from the world of opportunity, and never seeking more. This was the true grit of their sparkling dreams, a world all to themselves.

The janitors and I spent most of our days talking and listening to the same radio station everyday as we went about our routine cleaning the classrooms. I mainly talked with the head janitor because he was the easiest to understand. He and I got along very well. The head janitor and I once went to his house after cashing his paycheck. There I found a quite retiring atmosphere to live in. He had a passionate taste for alcohol, which he had displayed by presenting to me a locked cabinet full of exotic cups used to drink his numbing ale. He decided to ramble on about his life, reminiscing about his complicated marriage, lack of money and education, ultimately leading to an immense depression.

We would sometimes travel, ditching work in hope for better times; loathing around the grocery store, eating lunch at nearby fast food restaurants. These experiences made me wonder, and I began realize the true purpose of my observations. The people around me were disheartening individuals because of their lackluster lifestyle. I have never before seen such an exhibition of life and since then I have learned more about who I want to be.
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