He shuffles in every day, grinning impishly and spouting off smart comments.
Lord, have mercy, I think and brace myself as I see him walk through the door.
He's online for hours--hours--each day. Sometimes he's here before me in the morning and is still signed on when I leave.
His life is one big computer game and his eyes are empty. Lifeless. Bored as all get out.
Around noon, he'll take a break and lounge in the foyer, eyes closing as he drifts away for awhile.
My co-worker stopped one day and sat down next to him.
"What are you doing?" she asked him sternly.
"Huh?" he said. "Just sittin. That okay?"
"No, I mean, what are you doing? With your life. Why are you here all day?" She looked at him unwaveringly, eyes saying don't you even try to wiggle out of this one.
He shrugged. "Nothin else to do."
And she's telling me about this later--because we are all so curious about this guy, this kid, whose life is passing him by and he doesn't seem to mind one bit--and I'm thinking well, hmm, does this mean he may take his sass somewhere else for a change?
And then she looks at me, the edge dropping off her voice and says, "I asked him what he wanted to be and do you know what he told me? He said someday, he wants to be a doctor."
Then she looks at me fiercely, eyes flashing and says, "And I told him to get up then. To get up and get his GED and take.the.first.step. Because he's an able-bodied man and there is no excuse to be just sitting around like that.
"And there are options--there are doors to be opened--there is life to be lived if he would just get up.
Then she paused and gets quiet and says, "Because he is far too young to be giving up on life like that."
And as she walked away shaking her head, I thought oh but aren't we all?