Last week, I wrote of our houseguest Sam*. My cousin – who has drifted out to the coast, and who it seems is adrift in life. After a week of somewhat anaemic searches for housing, going out Friday night, which led to a Saturday morning that had me discovering pee on my living room floor at 7 am – I went to my cousin’s room to find Jayla (who I let out), but no Sam. I texted my cousin:
“I just cleaned Jayla’s pee off of the floor – not cool.” I called my aunt, asking her to offer to my cousin to take Jayla until he could find a job and a home that would accommodate having a pet. She agreed to talk to my cousin.
My cousin responded more than an hour and a half later by text “Shit on my way home walking.”
At which point, I again went to look in on Jayla, and thought that the room smelled, to discover the source of the smell on the bedroom floor.
I texted my cousin again, with a picture of the offending matter (a rather large turd), “and now this”. To which he responded by text, “God dam,” “I’ll find a place to go tonight can I still do some work for you today or no?”.
My husband and I had discussed how we should respond to the situation, we texted back “Look, you and Jayla can stay tonight, but Jayla has to go by the end of day tomorrow, you can stay until the end of the month.”
The dog was making the housing search near impossible, and what was evident was that my cousin’s lifestyle seemed incompatible with being a responsible pet owner at this time. I was hoping, that perhaps if Jayla was not part of the current situation, that maybe my cousin would be able to do the things that need to be done – things like finding steady work and stable housing. More than anything I wanted my house back, my cousin had been there a week and the stress was starting to build in a number of ways.
At mid-day Sunday, Sam indicated he had found a place, a room that was available immediately in a Condo on a bus route and across from a mall with a middle-aged room mate who worked in the oil patch half the time and was okay with the Jayla. It had seemed as though a minor miracle had happened and that my cousin would soon (in the next 48 hours) be in a place of his own.
On Monday, I asked Sam what his plan for moving was and he said he was paying the rent and the damage deposit, getting keys cut and signing forms, and that he could move Tuesday.
Tuesday, I bought my cousin a moving out gift – a laundry basket filled with a set of towels, some pajama bottoms and a t-shirt, laundry soap, soap and personal grooming supplies. I printed a stack (30) of his resumes and the forms for the Medical Services Plan. He indicated his girlfriend, Mel* who he intended to move out with, was not well, and that he’d move out on Wednesday instead. The gift nearly brought Sam to tears.
Wednesday, I bought Jayla a dog license at lunch. A little after 6, I texted my cousin, “What’s your plan?”
To which he texted back, “Just out with Mels* for din din.” Mels, is his girlfriend, they’ve known each other for all of two months, and for some reason or another, think that it is a good idea to move in together. Not the choice, I’d make, but it’s not my choice to make.
I replied, “OK, do you want a ride to your new place with your stuff tonight?”
He replied “I’ll ask Mels now.”
And then there was nothing, for more than two hours at which I point I texted again, “What’s the plan?” and, fatefully, “Does Lola need to be let out?”
My cousin texted back, “Yes, just one last time,” and “Is it ok if I spend one last night I just feel unsafe without a lock on the door for my girl.” I had gotten the distinct impression, that despite my cousin’s wanting his girl to move in with him, that she did not share the same desire, but was perhaps unwilling to clearly communicate that with him.
I texted my cousin back with the picture of a throughly soiled bed.
“I’m too late – Lola has made a mess of your bed. We can pick up a lock for your door tonight.”
The message though, seemed not to connect, and my cousin texted again asking to stay one more night, to which I texted back, “Your dog has pissed and defecated on your bedding, there is no bedding on your bed and it will be at least 4 hours before it will be cleaned.” I was doubtful the bedding was anything less than ruined, thankful a waterproof mattress protector had saved the mattress, however, I was truly at my limit. I needed my house back.
The message finally seemed to get through, and he responded, “Omg I’m so sorry I’ll be home soon, I’ll pack my stuff.” He and Mels arrived by cab 20 minutes later – I calmly greeted them at the door and said I’d give them a ride to where they would stay that night. I placed a hook and eye lock I had found in the basement with his belongings. He gathered his stuff and we loaded it and Jayla into the car. I drove them to their friend’s place, he ordered Pizza on the way. I dropped them off and wished him well and drove home.
The next day, I texted my cousin and invited him for dinner on Sunday. I had felt somewhat bad about how the move out had gone, and wanted to let my cousin know that he was still welcome as a guest. On Saturday, I texted him further and indicated we could pay him for the work that he had already done, and that if he could come around two in the afternoon that there would be about two hours of work that could be done. He agreed.
Sunday came. Two o’clock came, and went. Then three. Then four, and then at half past four, my cousin showed up with Mels and Jayla in tow. My husband, tired of waiting for my cousin to arrive, had taken the kids out for a walk. He arrived back – and briefly exchanged niceties, asking if there was a reason Sam was late and could not text or call. Sam, being Sam, answered vaguely. It did not go over well. My husband, left to cool off at his office. My cousin, claimed to need to get keys from his landlord, but that he’d be back later. I started on dinner. Not knowing who was or was not going to be eating, I made dinner for four adults and two kids.
Sam later texted to say that he had gotten scammed on his place and was out both cash and a place to live. I advised him that my husband was willing to help, and that he should call the cops. Sam indicated that he did not want to bug us.
Dinner was ready at half past six. I ate alone with the kids.
This morning, I wrote Sam an email –
I have no doubt that at the moment your life is not easy. The work that is available to you at this moment is not overly stable or secure, offers little in the way of benefits, and the pay is minimal. This past weekend we offered you a couple hours of work at $20/hour - and you show up 2.5 hours late with no prior text or warning that you intended to be late. You claim to have been scammed on your room - and are out both money and accommodations, and Mr. W has offered to assist you legally in that regard, but you do not want to "bug us". The reality is that at this moment your life as an adult is at ground zero. There is no easy road forward, the choices you make will either lead to an easier and more comfortable life that will afford stability and satisfaction; or, alternatively will lead to a life that is harder yet, plagued by poverty and insecurity and littered with regret.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have had an opportunity to get to know you and I see tremendous potential for you to make a good life for yourself that is filled with the love of family and friends and the rewards of hard work and dedication. You have an engaging personality, the kind of personality that makes friends easily and leads others to want to lend you a hand in helping you to achieve your goals. You are socially gifted. You are physically fit and capable of hard work. Further, you have the advantage of time – you are young enough to create nearly any future you want. At your core you are a good person who is capable of doing well in this world.
You have people who believe in your ability to do well and who are willing to help you help yourself in making a better life. You have people in your life who want to see you succeed – who want to help you up when you stumble and who want to cheer you on when you are doing well – do not take that for granted.
With that said, I would like to offer the following advice:
1. Do not get caught up on your past. Your past is the result of previous choices that were made, and the parts of your past that you regret offer up an opportunity for you to learn how to do better in the moment, and in the future. Let your past enable you to build a better future – do not let it condemn you to a life of struggle.
2. Do not get caught up on your shortcomings or the challenges that you are confronted with. Everyone has shortcomings and everyone is confronted by challenges in their lives. Those who succeed find ways to overcome their shortcomings, ways to compensate for their failings. Those who succeed carefully reflect on the areas of their lives in which they need to do better, and then undertake to improve or compensate in those areas. Further, there is no shame in seeking guidance on how to overcome your shortcomings.
3. Be accountable, to both yourself and others. Be aware of when you have failed either yourself or those in your life, acknowledge the failure and take steps to remedy it. Do not step away from your responsibility to either yourself or to others.
4. Value and respect your relationships with others – as they are, and always will be, your greatest asset and the source of much satisfaction in your life. Try to see others through to the degree possible and resist the urge to see through others. Do what you say you are going to do, and treat others with the kind of respect you'd expect to receive from others.
5. Look for and capitalize on opportunities that move you closer to the kind of life you want for yourself. With each choice you make, ask yourself if that choice moves you closer to or further away from the life you want for yourself in a month, a year or five years from now. With each relationship you have, ask yourself if that relationship moves you closer to or further away from the life you want for yourself – if a relationship is causing you to move further away from your goals, consider fixing it or moving on. If a choice is likely to move you further away from your goals, make a different choice.
6. Seek to be a role model. There will be those who will look up to you – who will see what you do, and the challenges you overcome – demonstrate the kind of life that you would want someone you love to lead. Lead the kind of life you would want your niece or nephew to lead, the kind of life you would want your son or daughter to lead.
7. Strive to rely on yourself and be confident in your ability to do so. Be aware of your attitude towards yourself and about your own capabilities. Seek to rid your vocabulary of the word “can’t” and instead focus on the “can”.
With that said – think about what you want for yourself in a year from now, and in five years from now and start moving towards it. We'd like to keep in touch with you and support you in making good life choices - but we will not support you in continuing to make poor life choices.
This is your life, now lead it.
Much love and kind regards,
The W Family
P.S. The following is a link to the Residential Tenancy Branch who may be able to assist you in your dispute regarding your room. http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/topic.page?id=3908F05C52AD49F29CCF9DC3FC0B4D25
Mr. W. has also offered his assistance - carefully consider whether or not you want to forego that.
P.P.S. Please find the following information on housing/shelters in Victoria - as much as we'd like to help you out further in the way of housing, we do not want to support you in continuing to make poor life decisions, and these programs may be better able to assist you.
Threshold Housing Society: http://thresholdhousing.ca/?page_id=1968 , firstname.lastname@example.org , and the referral form: http://thresholdhousing.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Form-for-Youth-Self-Referrals-without-agency-assistance.pdf
Out of the Rain Youth Shelter (pet friendly) http://www.outoftherainvictoria.ca/index.php
Our Place: http://www.ourplacesociety.com/
Coolaid Society: http://coolaid.org/our-services/
Again, as much as it may pain you to do so - seriously ask yourself whether or not your lifestyle at this time is compatible with having a dog - and whether or not you can adequately meet her needs. Having a dog is a choice - one that might be moving you further away from your goals, or alternatively adjust your lifestyle and place meeting her needs as a priority in your life.
P.P.P.S. We have a cheque for you for the work that you have done - let us know when you'd like to pick it up, or alternatively, if you'd prefer email money transfer, that too is doable.
*Names have been changed to protect identities.