Friday, November 12, 2010

Does life imitate art ?

It wasn't but a few days ago that I was discussing with someone the mob/teenager issues on the metro of a couple months ago and what I would do if I witnessed that happening. We each believed that if your kids are with you, it's a no-brainer: you do whatever you have to do to get your kids out of there if it means that helping someone would put you or them at risk.

I confronted that issue today.

After dinner, Beezus and I were headed for some errand running. As we approached a very busy intersection, I saw a child run diagonally through the intersection, causing several cars to swerve and/or slam on their brakes to avoid hitting him. In the streetlight, I could see that he had on a dark jacket with a yellow horizontal stripe on the back.

I got a bad feeling. Just this morning, I finished reading ROOM, generously lent to me by my friend Elaine. If you've read this book, then you know why I got a bad feeling.

I saw him run through a nearby parking lot and I decided to follow him. I caught another glimpse as he ran into a grocery store and I made a quick decision. I decided that finding him and looking at him would be safe, even with Beezus with me.

I found him in the third aisle, where he opened a package of juice boxes, grabbed one and started drinking it. I approached him, asked him where his mommy was and told him I could help him. His little eyes darted every which way but looking at me, and I noticed a couple scars on his head. He darted away and Beezus and I went up to the security guard at the front to tell her what was going on. It took a couple minutes of persuading to get her to take some action. It didn't help that I was trying to clue her in without alarming Beezus.

When we saw him again a couple minutes later, the little boy saw me and her and sidled in close to another woman in the aisle. The security guard looked at me like, That's his mother, and I looked at her and said, "That is NOT his mother." Sure enough, it wasn't, and the security guard propelled the little boy to the secret security office at the front of the store. At the same time, I went around the store asking people if they were missing a little boy.

Again, I'm reassuring Beezus and staying pretty calm myself.

We head back up to the front, see the manager, and I reiterate to him that I saw the child running across the intersection from across the street. The manager knew me as one of the regulars at the store and briefly outlined their process for what they do when they have a lost child. He assured me that they would not let the child leave. At this time, the uniformed and the plainclothes security guard are asking the little boy his name, his mother's name, his age. He never said a word. I told them that maybe he didn't speak English, maybe he didn't speak at all, and that he was obviously scared. His eyes were just darting everywhere - it was so creepy. I told the manager to please not turn the child over to any adult who showed up - that there was no way to tell if the child was running away from something good or something bad. The something bad was what I was afraid of - what if the child was running away from some sort of organized crime/child trafficking gang and they saw me interfering and got mad ?

At one point, the manager said that the worst case scenario is that the police would call child services. I said that maybe that was the best case scenario for this little guy.

I felt that the situation was taken care of, and as Beezus and I turned to go and get some groceries, I saw a policeman enter the store.

When we headed out about 10 minutes later, I saw the same policeman clearing a lot of stuff out of his backseat.

When we got home, I asked Beezus to tell Mr. Q what had happened at the store. I also gave her the chance again to ask questions. I told her several times that he was probably at home with his mommy and daddy and that although he might have a punishment for running away he was probably asleep in his bed already.

Of course, I don't believe that for a second and I can't get his vacant, darting eyes out of my head.

I'm not sure what to think now - was he running away from someone good or someone bad ? I guess all I can do is pray.


Stimey said...

Thank God you were there. Good for you for following him and trying to help. There is way too much looking the other way and assuming that someone else will take care of the situation. I hope the little boy is okay.

Marya said...

What great instincts you have. You are truly a wonderful soul and that little boy is lucky he crossed your path. I will add my prayers to yours.

Unknown said...

I pray he got what he needed, and good for you for doing what was in your power.

Maud said...

Well done for speaking up and doing what you could; so many people (and I include myself in that number as I have no idea what I would have done) might have just classed it as somebody else's problem.

I hope he's somewhere safe today.

Elaine said...

Holy crap! This could not be worse timing, coming on the heels of that book. This is completely scary, and at least you know you did everything you could to protect him. I really hope it works out. Ugh. This child deserves better than what he's got.

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