I wanted to write about this because this hit to hard to home. When I was younger I left my home for many reasons that maybe, just maybe, I might write about one day. But this concluded that I was alone with no help from any of my family members. Until years later. When my kids where 7 and 4 years old, I was homeless and living in my car. At that time I had a Ford Expedition. I was also unemployed, it had been a very hard year for me since I was not used to not working. I remembered I acquired a good amount of experience working and I had found an add in the paper for a supervisor position at Uneyway, a Day Program that took care of adults with disabilities in El Cajon, CA. I remembered I had asked my mother to take care of my kids and she had said she would. I should of known not to trust her (she was a drug addict at that time).
The day came of the interview and I woke up early and went to drop off my kids but she did not open the door. When she was on a good trip, she would lock herself inside her house and pretended not to be home. I began to panic. I did not want to blow this opportunity. I started to cry and my daughter asked me what was wrong. I told her that I was about to loose a very good opportunity thanks to their grandma and she told me in the sweetest voice. “Don’t worry mom, I’ll take care of my brother, just make the bed and we will lay down until you come back.” In that time I did not carry the third seat in the expedition because I would fold the second row of seats down and make a bed so we could sleep. Plus I had a game boy for my son to keep him busy so I thought, wait maybe this could work. My interview was early in the morning and the day was cool. I thought to myself that if I left the windows half way down and parked as close as possible I could probably pull it off. I was nervous. I put my car into gear and headed down from Spring Valley to El Cajon.
In a time like this you don’t think about the casualties of children that stay inside hot cars with all the windows rolled up. In a time like this all I could think about was “if I get this job we can get a place to stay and food.” I can buy my son the shoes that he needs since the ones that he had on had holes all over and one size too small.” Tears kept running down my face. I was so angry at my mom. She knew how important this was for me.
Finally, I arrived at my destination. There were only a few cars in the parking lot and right in front of the office was a parking. I thought to myself “SCORE”. I can keep an eye on them while I’m in there. My daughter at her young age told me that everything was going to be OK and I heard her scolding her little brother “you better listen to me or my mom can get in big trouble and go to jail. You don’t want her to go to jail? Do you?” and my son responded quietly “NO”. They laid down in the back and my daughter gave my son the game boy to play with. I pulled all the windows down half ways and took a deep breath. Here goes nothing.
I walked into the small office, to my luck it had big windows that went all the way down to the ground with big white vertical blinds. I checked in with the old white lady at the front desk. She told me to take a seat and I stood close to the door and kept eyeing outside every chance that I could. When I got called I started breaking into a sweat and walked further inside where they proceeded to give me a tour of the place. She sounded interested in the fact that I had so much experience at my age. The tour couldn’t of lasted more than five minutes, but I felt it was for an eternity and we went into a small room adjacent to the entrance with the same kind of windows and blinds. The interview had then turned from one person to having three more people into the room. They sat me at the end of a long meeting type table and they sat close together just staring at me. Soon the questions that were being asked to me seemed very random. And I noticed that one of the lady’s was staring out the window. I turned to look and there was the old white lady from the front desk sticking her neck inside my vehicles window. I felt all hell rise inside me. How dare this women look inside my car. But then I thought oh my god maybe something is wrong with my kids. I jumped up and apologized to the interviewers and told them that I had to leave. I ran outside checked to see if my kids were fine and they were. My daughter told me that this woman heard my son laughing and she stuck her head inside the car. I told her not to worry and I drove back to the park in silence with my kids.
The following day my mother called and asked me if everything was fine. I told her yes no thanks to you. I noticed that she was not going to ague with me and asked her what she wanted. She told me that there was a woman at the door asking for my kids from the CPS department. The first thought was FUCK!!! My stupid ex husband must want something. It was not the first time that he or his girlfriends had called CPS on me. I drove to my mom’s house nervous as hell and wondered what could I have done wrong. When I arrived this older woman in her late 50’s was waiting inside my moms living room. She looked at me like if I was a piece of trash. She eyed balled me up and down. She asked me a couple of questions and then it hit me, she asked. “How many times do you leave your children unattended in your vehicle?” FUUUUCKKKK MEEEE!!! Son of a Bitch. Those fuckers had used my information from my application to find out where I supposedly resided and called CPS on my ass. I felt like a fucken criminal like I had done something horribly wrong. But all I had really done was look for a job to give my children a better life. I was crushed. I wanted to cry and scream at my mom but I swallowed everything because I was not going to give this bug eyed skinny Olivia looking lady the satisfaction of seeing me cry.
She then followed to speak to my son, (I was not aware that she had already been to my daughters school and had pulled my daughter out and spoke to her). She told my 4 year old son to pull up his shirt and asked how many times I would hit him. “This fucken bitch!” I thought. I envisioned in my mind me chocking her scrawny little neck and yelling at her “FUCK YOU!!! FUCK YOU!!!! Where the fuck are you when my kids are hungry or when we don’t have a place to stay!!!!” I turned at my son and smiled and told him “Tell her mijo. How many times do I hit you?” My son just looked at me and said “tu no me pegas mami.” (you don’t hit me mommy). I had told her everything that had happened and how I was doing what I was doing but still keeping an eye on them. The whole time my mother was quiet. the CPS worker then said she was going to write her report and that if she had any more questions that she was going to call me.
When the lady left, my mom was going to give me a speech but I walked out and jumped into my car and drove to my daughter’s school to pick her up. Not knowing that she was in the office already crying. I asked her what was wrong and she told me that a lady had pulled her out of class and spoke to her in the middle of the school court right were parents and kids passed and was asking her all these humiliating questions. I was so angry. How dare this women do this to my daughter. I pulled my daughter out of school that day. When I got inside the car I called the the place where I had had my interview and cussed the lady off so bad and thanked them for what they had done to me and my kids. I was angry and crying. They had no right. Who where they to judge me. Not everyone was born with a silver spoon in their platter. Some of us had to struggle to survive. But what did they know when they had a comfy job and income to support their families.
So Shanesha Taylor, Only you know your struggle. No one should judge you for that. Not everyone will understand what it is to leave a homeless life. Or have no help or support from family. I don’t know you but I have rode the same boat.