It is so hard to be a good, consistent coach in someone else’s life. And it’s such a shame, that so many people grow up without any sort of coach at all.
I know a boy who was raised in poverty without a father. His mother’s boyfriend molested him but thankfully, that boy understood enough about right and wrong to have something done about it. He moved in with his sister soon after – and sometimes, still stays with her through difficult times.
He did not come in under the radar at work. People looked at him. Judged him. And if something was stolen, they had their suspicions. It had nothing to do with the fact that they knew anything about him or his past – to the contrary, it was that complete absence of relationship that bred awful accusations.
He used to work as a cook in a big chain bar and grill. One night the staff was messing with him and insisted he hit up some girl because she was allegedly easy. He went over and talked to her – and was promptly fired by management for it.
He has problems that I’ve never had. No social security card. Taxes and rebates and things, unfinished, not received. I gave him links from the state and told him to take one thing at a time. I helped him whenever I could. I told him who was his friend and who wasn’t. I explained that as natural as it came to him to sag his pants at work that it was at the cost of discussion. Any stupid little thing, and every major consequence.
Once I noticed a new scar on his face. He said his girlfriend had put it there. Another day he re-purchased a phone cord because the same person who’d slashed his face had taken scissors and cut the first one.
He came in one day, wearing torn clothing with odd black oil streaks. Said he had just come from an accident. He had been driving through an intersection in a bad place and caused a collision. Another person jumped out and tried to pull him from the car – but he ran….and came in to work in time for his shift, even though he was probably about to be sent home for not being in uniform. Meanwhile his vehicle was being impounded, creating another problem in the long line of problems this young man has faced trying to make it in this life.
I grabbed the key to the uniform closet. They had never even given him the correct shirt for his department but I found one in his size and pulled him into an enclosed corner of the store.
“I should just go. I gotta take care of shit.”
“No. This is what you do. Put this on and you get out there and perform like nothing is happening to you right now. You will walk around and act like you don’t have the wrong color pants on – likely no one will say anything because it’s about your attitude. Handle the rest, later.”
He showed up for work every day after that, wearing that shirt. He came in when staff was short. He stayed late when others called off. And because we had built trust, he always told me what the other people in his department was saying and doing. A top performer, his manager liked him.
“That ex-coworker’s sister was just in here. She wanted me to give her a free warranty on her product.”
“Please tell me you didn’t do that.”
“Naw I didn’t.” But there was a pause. “Could I have bought it for her?”
“Let me tell you something.” I explained why it was wrong and made him think about the awful situation you get in to when someone has you.
“She tried to use you. And she would try to use you again, threatening to tell someone about the first time you did her a favor. That’s a terrible place to be. Don’t ruin your career. None of this stupid shit in here is worth what you have right now.”
“You’re right. You’re always right.”
A good job. Plenty of hours. I was proud of him. Everything was going so well. He made good decisions…until recently. When he took a wrong turn.
And threw it all away.
For a beautiful young girl who came in and sat down in front of him. He worked on her phone while they flirted. Says she looked Arabic, with beautiful features. A sweet voice. He held on to that phone number he’d worked on – but hadn’t asked for it. And because he was too insecure to tell her who he was, he texted her anonymously.
That little girl’s parents found out. The company found out. What was a careless game to him was actually a breach in confidentiality and information protection. Flirting was stalking. And fucking around has most definitely cost him. Everything.
Now I’m trying to get him to hustle and find something else. Helping him with a resume, checking in, doing whatever I can. He hurt the company’s image, he hurt me, and he hurt himself – but he still needs help. And no one knows like I do, how none of the stupid shit is worth losing what’s so much more important.