There are neighborhoods where I go to appraise homes, where I will only go at certain times of the day.
Think about some parts of the city where crime rates are higher. Later morning is usually a good time to visit. People who have jobs have left for work and aren't going to call the police for seeing my car at a foreclosed home. People who have been up partying all night are still sleeping it off. So I can get in and out fairly quickly.
Then there are neighborhoods that aren't quite as dangerous, but that are maybe semi-dangerous. These neighborhoods wouldn't necessarily be horrible to go to in the afternoon. But if I wait too late in the afternoon, there are a lot of people on their porches, in driveways, or in the streets. This is not good for a few different reasons. First, I don't want to talk to all the neighbors when I do my job. Second, I need to take pictures and these people can't be in my pictures. Third, I don't want anyone calling the police on me or asking to go see the inside of the empty house.
Neither one of the neighborhoods that I've described above are areas that I would let my children roam the streets of; especially by themselves. I see children in these streets, with no adults around. And it concerns me all the time. Sometimes very small children, right next to the street. Sometimes I wonder if they yard by the fairly dangerous street is a better place for the child than inside the house itself. I just don't know. And I can't keep them all safe. I have called for assistance in a few cases where actual abuse or negligence was obvious. Most of the time my head is just ringing with the dangers of it all. Those children shouldn't be there, out in the open, unsupervised like that. It's just not safe.
Well today, I was stopped behind a line of cars at a red light. I saw a boy, maybe 8 or 9 years old who looked like he wanted to cross the street. He seemed very unsure with crossing five lanes of traffic. He jetted once, made it across three lanes, and almost got hit by a car. He turned around, ran back, and sat down on the curb. I pulled off in to a run down parking lot and asked if he would like crossing the street. He said yes. His eyes were so big and scared. This child almost got hit by a car and then had a strange car with a strange lady pull up right beside him.
I helped him across the street. He took off running, hopefully he didn't have far to go. And this boy has been on my mind ever since. I have an 8 year old boy. There is absolutely no way I would let him go anywhere in that part of town by himself, or even more than 5 feet away from me. And here this boy was trying to cross five lanes of traffic. Where are his parents? Then I think, maybe they were at work. Maybe he got out of school and had to walk home because they were working. Or maybe they are deathly ill and can't get him. He seemed very scared, like this wasn't his normal routine . . or he would know how to make it across the big, busy road.
But I had an idea. Because this shouldn't happen. I'm going to write a letter, copy it, and send it to the city, along with some neighborhood organizations. There are retired people and disabled people who are still mobile in that area. Why aren't they asked if they could be a walking buddy? Why aren't there more helpers for the kids to make it safely to their homes? I'm sure there are enough resources to make that happen. I've seen the amount of adults in that area! Maybe those looking for work could volunteer their time to help and use that on a resume. There are enough options to make it work.
Tonight I am thankful that I was able to pull over and help the boy cross the street. What if it hadn't been me? What if a predator had saw that boy who was obviously scared and willing to trust a stranger? Ugh, I can't stop thinking about him. So tonight I am thankful I was there and helped him. I am thankful that he won't leave my mind because this needs to change. And I will try to start a change.