Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A Dilemma

Phillip's a good student, with grades that are OK, though they could be better. He walked into my classroom a few minutes late the other day, looking as though he'd slept in a garbage can. When I asked what was wrong with him, I found he hadn't slept at all. He'd gone to work from 7 PM to 7 AM in a convenience store in Long Island.

I asked Phillip if he was crazy, and he asserted he was not. Crazy people, however, rarely answer that question in the affirmative. Phillip's a good kid, so naturally I decided to interrogate him mercilessly. It turns out he's employed by a friend of the family, who does him the great favor of letting him do his homework in between ringing up Slurpees and cigarettes and getting held up at gunpoint (but only occasionally).

What sort of friend hires a kid to work all night when he's got school the next morning? Discuss amongst yourselves.

That's not really what bothers me about Phillip, though. He tells me his parents live out of state, and that he lives with his older brother, who's in his late twenties. Will the brother come to open school night? No, he's too busy.

I'm absolutely sure it's unacceptable for kids to work all night. Phillip may be 18, so it may not be illegal. But his little family may need the money he makes at this awful job. I mean, why the hell else would he be doing it?

Should I report this situation? Phillip is certainly aware of my feelings. But assuming his guidance counselor knows the right thing to do, would I be doing him any good?
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