Sunday, February 29, 2004

Wendy Speaks....

I drove to northern Maine and snatched Heather away from Job Corps. What I saw there was worse than my wildest imagination scenarios. I must have told Heather a hundred times that I was amazed she had stayed and stuck it out. I was proud of her for trying to make the best of a bad situation!!!!

I got to Heather's dorm at 9:30 pm. I went to the security office and the guy got on his walkie talkie and asked the RA to bring down "HM". When Heather got in the office, I hugged and kissed her good ;-) Then we went up to her room. I was extra wimpy after the long ride and was leaning heavily on my cane. They let me go up the elevator.

Keep in mind that this school is on the old Loring Air Force Base. The dorm was made of cement blocks and the hallways must have been constructed narrowly to double as bunkers in case of attack. Certainly two of me could not fit down the hall side by side ;-) It was creepy!

The hallways were full of aimless youth who looked bored out of their skulls. I could see why they were roaming the halls after seeing their tiny rooms. There's not much space to just BE and relax. Some kids were flopped in a darkened TV room, some were around the only computer. It was not internet capable and could only be used to play mindless games. I started feeling trapped and institutionalized right away.

With the door to Heather and her roommate Sarah's room closed, very little sound was cut off. It was like living in an airport flight path....the rumbles, yells and rollerblading kids was non-stop. Even by 11 pm, the noise was LOUD!

I went out to the parking lot and slept in my van. Temps were around zero with a 25 mph wind. Can you say brrrrrrrrrrrrrr?? Luckily I had Zeke dog to cuddle up with, but he was only good for one side! I put on 2 fleece jackets, a hood and sweat pants and slept relatively well until Heather bounced in to the van after breakfast. I was very brave. I got out of the warm bed and put on clean clothes.

I asked Heather if I could come to class with her and she got permission. Then she realized it was the day of her 60 day luncheon and got permission for me to go to that, too. I enjoyed the part of the day that was truly class. A ranger came in to finish up his week long class on wildland fire supression. Since I went to college for forestry, it was all very interesting to me. I thought he was a great speaker with some interesting tapes and presentations. Afterwards, the kids practiced getting under fire shelters.

The dismaying parts of the day were "class". Kids need to be in their assigned rooms at 8 am. Once they get there, anything goes. They pretty much sit around and talk, fool around, look at catalogs and nap. This is exactly how Heather had been describing it for weeks. I had hoped she was exagerating ;-)

No guidance, no "teaching", nothing at all motivating, educational or inspiring. That was contrasted by the gear room!!! That place was amazing! Closets full and piles of fantastic gear for skiing, snowshoeing, kayaking, white water rafting, camping, backpacking, etc. I was drooling ;-p Too bad they hardly use the stuff! That would be the highlight and crowning glory of this program. Bummer ;-(

At lunch we got pizza and chicken wings. I had seafood pizza which was pretty good ;-) A bunch of "officials" stood up and addressed the half dozen kids who made it to their 60 day luncheon. I was mostly appalled and disturbed by what they had to say. From my point of view, they were intent on churning out nice little consumers who would go on to earn and spend money, but not necessarily have good or rewarding lives. Sigh........ When it was Heather's turn to get her award and speak, she was disgusted, so just said she had already built her own house and was making $22 an hour when she went in there. Snicker....snicker...snicker.....

So....enough about Job Corps. I hope that's it. Heather tried getting a leave of absence or time off for a job and that didn't work out. She just left.

As fate would have it, I got a phone call while in Maine that my mom is in the hospital, awaiting open heart surgery. That was totally unexpected! She is scheduled for a triple by-pass. We may or may not try to get to Arizona to see her. We'll see.

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