Not going to lie, the whole situation was really sad. The other day, while I was puttering about in the yard, as that's how I seem to spend ALL of my "free" time, I noticed a girl spending a lot of time trying to catch the attention of passing vehicles. I had first seen her about an hour or so earlier, she had said hello as she walked by - and she seemed to be a bit out of sorts at that time as well. So, when I was making a trip to the dumpster I went over to chat with her.
She was young, I don't think kid young, but probably around 17-20. I told her that she probably shouldn't be doing what she was trying to do in her current state, but that I would be happy to drive her to a safe place. She didn't think she had a safe place to go. I suggested some of the places that I thought might work, but she wasn't interested, and besides, as she pointed out "she had no shoes on".
It was heartbreaking. I am so thankful that in my life whenever I have felt sad or desperate that I have never been in the state this girl was. The things she must have gone through in life to end up talking to me on that street corner are not even on my radar. I hope I managed to come across how I was hoping to; non-judgemental mixed with concerned. She didn't make the most sense, and she obviously is more familiar with "the systems" then I will ever be - she was concerned that seeking help would result in her children being taken away again. She also implied that if she went home she would just be sent out again. I kept expressing to her that she needed to be careful and that because she was drunk she would be more of a target; her response was to ask ME if I was okay out on the street - she was concerned that I would attract the wrong kind of attention being out there at that time of night. She kept hugging me, not quite my usual stranger on the street conversation.
After realizing there wasn't much that she knew of that I could do for her, I headed home to see if I could find out where she could be brought that would be a safe place for her until she sobered up. Besides the suggestions I had already offered her and she had refused there didn't seem to be anywhere I could bring her. I went back to bring her a pair of flip flops, it was the least I could do - but she was gone.
It was a really emotional experience for me; I hated that I couldn't help. I tried to tell her to make sure she realized that if and when she's ready that there are programs out there that will help her. I'm sure she already knows that, but I can just hope that one time when she hears it she will be ready.