19 November 2007

Just Something Random

Every year, this time of year, I often remember very random things.

There's only one that comes up each and every year.

I was probably 16, 17 years old. I was working as a hostess at a local restaurant. It was near the intersection of a major road and a freeway.

There was a number of homeless people that lived under the overpass or, they were squatters in a large open field (they had tents). I think it depended on the weather, but I can't remember if the bridge or the tents was the preference for cold weather.

I remember a woman who had just given birth in early November or so. She would come in when she had gotten enough money panhandling and buy coffee and a meal. I remember asking why their meal wasn't comp'ed (I felt so bad) and was told that if they did it for one, they'd have to do it for each of them - and there were quite a few.

I don't remember her name - just that she had given birth to a baby girl who was a tiny little thing. All the staff at the restaurant had gone in and bought diapers, clothes, blankets, formula, stuff like that. People went thru their clothes from their children and gave them to her. I never knew where she kept everything.

It got cold right before Christmas. About a week before Christmas, I remember hearing several of the staff saying they were taking turns taking the baby in. The mom would bring the baby to them at the end of their shift and come back and get the baby.

I remember thinking how wrong that was. Just wrong.

And then it colder. So frigidly cold. I remember leaving this place at 3 pm on a Saturday and it was so cold that I could see my breath at 3pm. I remember it was barely raining but that was enough to cut right through you. I remember pulling out of the parking lot and seeing her panhandling on the corner - holding the baby, wrapped up in a blanket. I remember crying.

I got home and told my parents. Stunned that someone would do that to a newborn. Stunned...

My parents called our neighbor who was an elementary school teacher and we all sat and talked.

Around 6pm, we opened the phone book and looked up Children's Protective Services and made the call. They took all of our information. I guess they had an emergency number that we called.

I remember that we got a call from the police department and gave another statement. I am sure my parents did all the talking on behalf of me.

I remember crying - knowing that the little baby could be taken away but knowing that was best for her.

The next day I went back to the restaurant for my Sunday shift and I remember everyone was stunned. Apparantly CPS and HPD had come the night before (same night we called) and taken her.

No one knew where she was. But I knew that she was warm. She was safe. She wasn't on a corner. Or under a bridge. Or in a tent in a field. She was safe.

A few weeks later her mother came in and said that she had a custody hearing with the state and she didn't know what to do. That she obviously had no money for an attorney or even for clothes to wear.

I don't know what happened after that. I don't remember ever seeing her - ever.

That was 16 or 17 years ago. That little girl is now a young woman. Somewhere.

I wonder where she is. I wonder how she's doing. I wonder if she is with her mother or if she was taken in by a family and raised by them? I wonder if she is making plans for the prom in a year or two? I wonder if she has a boyfriend and stays up late talking on the phone with him? I wonder if she has done well in school? Maybe she is a cheerleader. Or in drama. Or in debate. Maybe she has an after school job. In a restaurant. As a hostess. Like I was.

But most of all, I wonder if she made it.


Phoenix said...

You probably saved her. Truly. I'd do it in a heart beat.

Anonymous said...

That's far from random, woman.

I pray she's safe too.

Badness Jones said...

That was heartbreaking for the mom, but you did what you knew was best for that baby. The right thing is rarely the easy one.

Jenni said...

You did a brave thing. It's a small world....you may meet her one day.

Kathy said...

What a gripping story. I echo the other comments. You probably saved her. Wow. I still have chills after reading your story.

p.s. I have been telling everyone to read the comment you left on my school story today. In the almost-four months I've been blogging, yours was the coolest comment I've ever read. You're just full of great stories, aren't you?

Heather said...

WOW. I can truly say I have never done anything that brave in my life. You saved a life. You were/are that girl's guardian angel. Thanks so much for sharing that! So many people just stand by and watch or enable situations like that, but you did something about it and I'm sure the baby fared much better in this world because of it.

Amy said...

wow. that's a story. so touching. you did the right thing.