I got lost today.
I was found today.
Spun around on my path and pointed in the right direction by a young man named Corran, pronounced “Koran”- just like the holy book.
If my son hadn’t been in the minivan with me, I might have chalked it up to my vivid imagination, but I have a witness to this lovely stranger who climbed in my backseat today.
So I was lost..pretty much in my own little neighborhood. I was taking my son to a job fair at a retirement community just a couple of miles from our home. It is easy to find for sure, but once we drove beyond the locked gates, a small city was revealed..and since I can get lost looking for the deli in Wegman’s (true story)…well. The guard took one look at my coiffed teenage son and knew exactly where we were going and stated “follow the car in front of you” and hurried us along. The fair was bringing teens in by the dozens to vie for dining room positions, and while I was astounded by my son’s recent response of ..”oh, you wanted me to empty ALL the dishes from the dishwasher?”..I encouraged him to apply and give it a shot, and if he stays for two years, he may be eligible for their scholarship fund that the residents generously chip in for and award to deserving employees as they head off to college.
I followed the car in front of me as instructed, chatting with my son, prepping him for the interview in air conditioned comfort, and followed..and followed..until it became obvious that the lead car in our little adventure had no clue where she was going, and we all ended up back at the starting line. Once the caravan of clueless parents and teens were pulled over, I took the bull by the horns and told everyone to stay put and ran over to the guard house to get directions and let my displeasure be known, by God. I was starting to break a sweat and my little darling was getting nervous.
- I impatiently questioned a young man who was also waiting to talk to the gatekeeper..”do you work here?” ..to which he replied “No ma’am..I am here for a job fair and I have been walking a long time, I got lost ..I am hoping they will call me a shuttle.” Dear Lord, it was hot, and he was dressed in clothes that were the attempt of a boy to look dressed up, long dark pants and a heavy blue, cardigan sweater , substituting as a suit jacket. He looked miserable. I got directions and offered him a ride.
He told me his name was Corran, after a “what up bro? ” greeting to my son, and hopped in the back of the van. I was leading the caravan this second trip around, chatting with my new passenger and glancing at my silent son who looked to be in disbelief that I had just invited this stranger into our car. Worlds colliding.
Corran told me that he took the bus to get to the job fair, it took about an hour. The bus stop is a steep walk up a long hill to the gates. The walk alone would be intolerable…and that was just on our end. He boarded his bus down on North Avenue where he lives..”that’s in Baltimore City M’am”. He said “Baltimore City” like he was in a foreign country now ,despite the fact that I could see the city skyline from the front seat of my car.
Yes, I wanted to say, of course I know North Avenue..the whole world knows North Avenue after the riots and burning of this year. The horror and anger of those days are still fresh, the neighborhoods still disaster zones, the murder rate setting new records every day. I have been bouncing between outrage, sadness and resignation on nearly a daily basis..and my heart aches from all of it…so yes, I know North Avenue.
Corran told me how he hopes to get the job at the retirement community, he needs to save for college. I couldn’t imagine the effort he would be making to get to work after school. He was the same age as my still very quiet, front- seat sitting son..who would be hand delivered to this place of employment just minutes from home. Suddenly I felt sorry..but not for Corran.
The boys made it to their interview, and I thought I had seen the last of Corran, until he showed up side by side with my son afterwards. He asked for a ride back to the gates, which I happily obliged and extended the ride to the bus stop down that steep hill…honestly, I wasn’t ready to see him go. He seemed pleased with the interview and was excited about his chances. When he jumped out and gave a little wave, my heart was full of hope for this determined boy..and something else …for the first time in months, my heart was hopeful for Baltimore, for humanity.
Stay strong Corran, you are what’s right and good ..the world needs you. I hope we meet again.