Today’s post is a bit of a divergence – it has nothing to do with healthcare, maternity care, or my workplace. Today’s post is about our unexpected, hopefully short-term, houseguest.
On Friday, I got a phone call from my Aunt – who still lives in my hometown. Her eldest son (early twenties) has decided that it was time to leave the family home and moved out to the coast in June and has been living between the Victoria area and Salt Spring Island. He has been doing cash jobs (general labour stuff) and crashing at acquaintances. In July he was involved in a car accident, and briefly went back to Alberta for medical care, but returned to the coast in September.
“Are you around this weekend?” she asked.
“Well, sort of yes and sort of no – we will be around Friday but not until after 9 as we have a Thanksgiving dinner to go to, and we have the other two kids this weekend and were planning on being away Sunday night to go to a Thanksgiving dinner in Lake Cowichan.” I replied. It was going to be a busy weekend with a full-house. The dinner in Lake Cowichan was later cancelled.
“Well, would it be at all possible for Sam* to stay with you guys this weekend. I am kind of desperate, he has nowhere else to go.” Rock meet hard place.
The thing is, it’s not just Sam, but Sam and his dog “Jayla”*- a completely sweet purebred English Bulldog, but a dog none-the-less. The thing is, when it is just us our house is pretty full as we are trying to sleep train the toddler & preschooler and doing so is immensely easier when they can sleep in separate rooms and when the older kids are with us, there really is no spare room. The thing is between my job, my other job and my husband’s job and the kids – we were already red-lining. Having guests is one thing, having an unemployed early twenty-something, young man and his dog stay with next to no notice is quite another. Particularly, an early twenty-something young man who I barely know – I moved to the coast nearly 18 years ago now and my cousin might not yet have been in school when I did so. I have seen him all of a handful of times in the years since – and, had sparingly kept in touch with his mother. But he is family, it is Thanksgiving, and there was nowhere else for him to go.
“I guess so.” I replied.
So on Friday night my cousin (tattooed and pierced) and his dog arrived, after we had retired for the night, he parked his defunct Moped and trailer in our carport. We left a towel and some soap on his bed, and a note directing him and Jayla to the shower. I awoke the next morning unable to find my laptop – he had taken it from the dining room table and it was open beside him as he slept. I found myself mildly annoyed.
He slept late on Saturday. When he woke, and we spoke it was clear – my cousin had no work, no home, no money, no reliable transportation and no plan. He offered to make-do and crash at a friend’s house for the rest of the weekend, we offered for him to stay as he was already settled even though it would mean having my step-daughter bunk with her little siblings. The last thing we want is for our place to be a revolving door for my cousin, and we are hoping that when his stay with us is over, he will only be an invited guest (for dinner or the like) from time to time.
On Saturday, we took his resume (it clearly needed formatting and editing) and formatted and edited it – “So what year did you graduate high school?” I asked.
“I didn’t graduate, I need Science 12. Dumb, I know.” He replied.
I could not help but think, who in 2014, does not finish at least high school? Victoria is a University town, so there’s no shortage of young people looking for work. The lack of high school would put my cousin at a strict disadvantage.
“So do you have any other training? Like Food Safe or Serving it Right, or anything really?” I asked.
“No” – he replied succinctly.
“You might want to consider getting your GED or doing the course by correspondence as a high school diploma would really open some doors.” – I continued, half knowing that at some point, probably years down the road that he will need to come to that conclusion himself, and that no amount of well-intended “advice” will convince him at this time.
The resume done and emailed to him, I was hoping to find him actively scouring the internet for work. Nope, he was cruising Facebook. I was irritated.
I did a load of his wash (it is doubtful that our laundry machine has ever had such a challenge before, and in a house with toddlers and a dog, that is saying something).
On Sunday he again slept late – my husband waking him and reminding him that people without jobs and homes should not be sleeping in and asking him help with some chores around the house. He happily and diligently helped with the chores. He then tried to get his moped to work – switching the fuel in it and playing with the wires. He and his parents bought it the week before and needed to get it running, which it was, but since then had yet again had a mechanical failure. The back brake was also not operational. The Moped is 40 years old – and for the time being should not be considered reliable (or safe for that matter) transportation.
“Do you have a helmet?” I asked.
“No” he replied .
“You know you’ll probably get a ticket for riding it without a helmet.” I added – while thinking, you know, without a helmet if you only wind up with a ticket and not a brain injury, you would be lucky.
“I know – almost got a ticket the other day.”
It seeming clear that finding work quickly would be wishful thinking without some help, it is also clear that steady work and the money that comes with it are likely pre-requisites to finding a place that Sam can call home. Further, finding a home for Sam, is an absolutely priority – if not for Sam, for myself and our family - so my husband forwarded the revised resume to an acquaintance of his who runs a temporary labour company for blue collar workers. Luckily, the acquaintance was able to find work at a construction site that started on Tuesday. So far, he has worked hard and diligently and it is looking likely that the crew he is working on might employ him directly. At least with work and a legitimate paycheque, his chances of finding a roof over his head would be greatly improved.
Wednesday morning I went to give my cousin a ride to his co-worker’s to car pool (as was discussed the night before), as we had planned the night before only to find his room empty, his hard hat on his bed and his work boots on the floor. No note was to be found.
I texted him – and he explained that he went to his colleagues place earlier and would rent his equipment for the day. I let him know that not doing what you say you are going to do earns no brownie points around our house. I found myself, again, irritated.
So at least my cousin had work. But still, no home and he seemed to be making only cursory efforts at finding a home. It is Thursday – and I think he has only looked at less than a handful of places (maybe 3). On Tuesday I sent him a dozen links to listings. Yesterday, I started emailing and texting a few on his behalf. Today, I wrote an accommodations wanted ad on his behalf. If by the end of the weekend there is no headway on the home-front (Victoria’s rental market is insanely tight and having a dog in tow does not make it any easier), I will be requiring him to apply to a program directed to housing otherwise homeless youth and helping them with life skills.
Don’t get me wrong, my cousin is a sweet kid, as is his dog, he seems to be reasonably hard-working, has an outgoing personality and he does not smoke – he gets on with the kids, however, he is still an early twenty-something with all that comes with that territory. Including all kinds of things that not being an early twenty-something and being an entirely different kind of early twenty-something when I was – I am likely to find at a minimum irritating. He needs to be an early twenty-something somewhere else, and the less I know about it, probably the better – as it is entirely likely, that withholding judgement on the choices he makes might be beyond my capacity.
On that note – know of an available and affordable suite or somebody looking for a roommate in the Greater Victoria area (even a sublet would be fine)? Please drop me a line or two...please.
*Sam – not their real names, pseudonyms are being used.