Andy’s emotions watched him as he skateboarded to the World Vision Orphanage. Like every emotion in every creature, they were watching what he saw from the big screen that represented his eyesight. They were all behind the vast console that was updated and upgraded regularly.
“Are you sure it’s a good idea to help out with the kids after cleaning that rink?” his Fear said. “That ice was hard work enough as it is.”
“Yeah,” agreed the Disgust. “Why not just get another volunteer to help them?”
“What if he loses his ice cleaning job?” Andy’s Anger snapped. “We need to make sure he’s working hard enough to get good references for future jobs. If he gets them, that is.”
“Don’t forget that that he’s enjoying his life at the moment,” Andy’s Joy said. “He loves what he’s doing. And he cares for the children and not being in a paid job proves it.”
“Don’t forget that he misses Mom and Molly,” Sadness said.
“Yeah, but he’s free from them now,” Joy said. “No checking from his mom or moaning from Molly.”
“Yeah, but they’re still his family,” Sadness repeated.
Andy arrived at the massive, white bricked five floored, red roof tiled orphanage. It looked more like a posh hotel than an orphanage. Sometimes he wondered whether this was a hotel and World Vision bought the building to turn it into an orphanage. And a good thing, too, he also thought. What would happen to the kids without this?
Andy knew it was going to be a busy night at Grabbo’s tonight. After cleaning the rink, he knew this wasn’t really the best option, but he didn’t want to stop. Not because he wanted to improve his career, but because he cared a whole lot of the children and tried to make their lives better than they were at the moment. Part of the reason he got his voluntary job at the orphanage was his optimistic and playful personality. It was also lucky that the kids always had a wonderful time when he arrived.
“Andy!” the kids cried as they all ran to hug him.
“Hi, guys,” Andy greeted back, as he hugged and patted them back.
The head of the orphanage, a brown haired and blue eyed forty five woman in a purple shirt and pink shirt, approached him. “Hi, Andy,” she said. “You ready for tonight?”
“As ready I’ll ever be, Mrs. Jurdon” Andy said.
“Then what are we waiting for?” Mrs. Jurdon said. “Let’s go to Grabbo’s!”
“Yeah!” the kids shouted as they ran to the mini-bus.
Miss Jones, a black haired lady with colourful glasses in a yellow shirt and light blue jeans, went on the single deck dark blue bus first to point the kids to their seats and Miss Erltion, an African-American lady in a purple suit and skirt with black shoes, remained outside to tell them to board the bus safely.
On the journey to Grabbo’s, Andy kept behind to make sure all the kids were behaving themselves. And they were, as usual. He rarely had to shout at the kids. The only times when he had to was when two kids were fighting and when a diva girl was being bossy and rude. Apart from those times, he and the kids always got on as good as gold.
Then Andy found single braided ginger hair Jenny Goulder, a seven year old girl in a flowery dress, sitting on her own as usual. He knew she liked being on her own and didn’t act with the other kids much. Not even for her birthday or Christmas day.
“Hey, Jenny,” he said, as he joined her.
“Hi, Andy,” she said back in her most social way. It wasn’t really social, but Andy would rather it be like that than not at all.
“Everything all right?”
“Yeah, everything’s normal,” Jenny moaned.
By ‘normal’, Andy knew that meant she was depressed for no one adopting her. “Don’t worry,” he said as calm as he could. “You’ll get adopted some time.”
“No, I won’t,” she muttered not for the first time. “No one likes me. No one wants anything to do with me.”
“That’s because you don’t interact with others as much,” Andy told her. She had been telling him that since she joined the orphanage two years ago. He was tired of having the same conversation, but he always reminded himself that he was never an orphan like her and never went through what she was going through so he tried his best to remain calm and cool.
“The least social your are,” he told her, “the less likely grownups will want to adopt you.”
And with that, she turned her head away from him. This is the first time she has ever done that to him.
Andy sighed. He knew he shouldn’t have said that, but he was tired of Jenny’s negative attitude. He couldn’t just bottle it up any further, even though she was only seven years old. He didn’t feel any better than he did before he said it.
Andy sadly and slowly made sure that every kid was off the bus.
“Everything all right, Andy?” asked Miss Erltion.
“I told Jenny that she needed to be more social and she turned away from me,” he confessed. “This is the first time that’s happened to me so I’m not taking this well at all.”
“Welcome to our world,” Miss Jones said. “We have to deal with this every single day.”
“But, in fairness to you, Andy, you’re getting through to her than any of us,” Miss Erltion told him. “She’s listening to you better than us.”
“Yes, Andy,” Mrs. Jurdon said. “I don’t know why but you’re better at getting through to these kids than we can. And we try every day.”
Andy didn’t know either. He didn’t know wherever it was how he used to be a kid that was helping him with this or maybe he just had skills he didn’t know he had. “Thanks, guys,” he said. Those comments made him feel better than he did ten minutes ago. Then he followed them and the kids into Grabbo’s.
Andy’s emotions were watching him sitting at a table with eight orphans.
“If Andy’s better than them, why don’t they just give him their jobs?” Anger snapped.
“He’s only been doing this for eight months,” Disgust moaned. “That’s no way he could take over.”
“What if he doesn’t want to take over?” Joy said.
“Then he’s likely to fail in life,” Sadness muttered. “There aren’t many opportunities in San Francisco.”
“He’s just getting started here,” Joy said. “Then who knows? Maybe something better will come. It takes time to find his true calling.”
“Yeah, as long as it doesn’t take him half a century,” Anger said.
Andy just smiled as he watched the orphans eating their beef burgers, spicy chicken wings, barbeque ribs, fish, pizza and lasagne. But he and the staff made sure all the kids were having some fruit and vegetables as part of their five a day. He was having a pepperoni pizza.
This was his favourite part of this volunteer opportunity: eating out with the orphans. It always reminded him when he ate out with his family, friends and most of all his toys. How he missed his toys. Buzz Lightyear, Jessie, Bullseye, Rex, Hamm, Slinky Dog, the Potato Heads and his favourite toy, Woody. He loved those toys so much. Sometimes he wished he never donated them to Bonnie Anderson, but then he always reminded himself that he wouldn’t have had time for them at all. Not even to glance at them when he got back to his small, one-bedroom flat. They are much happier being played at Bonnie’s than being in his old house’s attic.
Then Miss Erltion approached him. “Andy, do you want your half-hour break now?”
“Sure, Miss Erltion.”
Inhaling the warm clean night air, Andy relaxed. He enjoyed stretching his arms and legs and standing up after eating his delicious pizza.
“I’ve been trying, Riley. You’re just not giving me enough credit.”
“I’ve been giving your plenty of credit and time. You’ve just not put it to good use.”
Hearing the loud argument made Andy turned to face the angry voices. The male belonged to a young, black-haired man and the female belonged to… Riley!
“Look, Jordan,” she sighed. “I know you’re busy and you’re trying to balance everything in your life like me, but it’s just not working. I think it’s better if we don’t see each other for a while.”
“Riley, please don’t stay that,” Jordan begged. “This will only make things worse.”
“I’m sorry.” Riley started to sobbed. “I don’t want to do this either, but we tried everything and nothing’s getting better.”
“Then we’ll try to something else,” Jordan said. “There are plenty of things that could work.”
“I know you’re not a quitter, Riley. So don’t quit on me.”
“Well, you’re not trying to quit your alcoholic, are you?” Riley pointed out. “And you never settle in a band. You keep quitting and auditioning for bands. You don’t settle with them.”
“They’re always arguing with me,” Jordan said. “Pushing me harder than I can and – ”
“And you’re still giving me pathetic excuses,” she interrupted. She sighed once more. “I can’t keep doing this, Jordan. I’m so sorry. I’ll see you soon.” She turned and walked away.
Also sobbing, Jordan walked away in the opposite direction.
Riley was still sobbing her eyes out when she was offered a tissue. “Thanks,” she said. She blew her nose on it and looked at who gave it to her. “Andy!” She felt a bit better for seeing him.
“Is there something I can help you with?” Andy offered.
Riley stopped crying and sniffling. “No, there’s nothing you can do for me at the moment, but I’ll get over it. So are you here on your own?”
“No, I’m on duty helping the orphans,” Andy said. Then his watch beeped. “And my break is over. I have to get back. See you later, Riley.”
Watching him go back in the restaurant, Riley peered through the window. She saw that Andy was not lying about helping the orphans. He was helping the waiters serve them their desserts.
Seeing him helping them made Riley feel better. She wondered why Jordan couldn’t be like that. He was more in his music and alcohol. That was why he was always showing up late for Riley’s practices or not at all. Even though he was being true to himself, Riley just couldn’t tolerate it at the moment.
Then she looked at the clock tower striking seven. She started to head to San Jose’s, where she and her parents agreed to meet.