Remember a little while ago when I got trapped inside my elderly neighbor's apartment because I was incapable of just minding my own business? Well I'm currently attempting to develop a reputation in my building for being the guy that gets involved in anything that looks like a problem, only to ultimately make the problem worse or more dramatic.

So that's how Friday night happened.

My friend Burke and I were heading out the door to grab some food after our Friday afternoon workout. I live in an incredibly large building. It's like one of only four man-made things you can see from space. There must be somewhere around 200,000 people living in this building. The make-up looks like this:

Families with children: 20

Eli and Rebecca: 2

People over 95 years old: 199,978

Contraband cats: 30,000

On our way out the door we heard the distressed cries of a screaming child. My motherly instincts kicked into overdrive and I began searching for the source. And that's when I saw it: a child, alone, abandoned, walking down a long hallway toward the front doors of the building. Except that it wasn't really a child. It was more of a baby. A baby that looked so young that it must have learned to walk about 15 seconds before we happened upon it.

The baby's face was bright red, tears streamed down its cheeks, and it looked terrified. It was obviously very lost.

Ok. I know I'm calling the child "it." I realize this sounds rude. The moms of the Internet who are still mad about that time I offered to help slap their children at the grocery store are already sending mass texts to stage a rally opposing my refusal to talk about their children with respect.

I don't know the baby's gender. SOMETIMES YOU CAN'T TELL WHEN THEY'RE THAT YOUNG, OK?! There should be a law that requires parents to tattoo the gender of their child across the child's forehead. It would help me avoid the incredibly awkward situation I experience approximately ten times a year when faced with a coworker or friend's baby and I have no idea how to refer to it.

So this baby, boy or girl or somewhere in between BECAUSE WE DON'T JUDGE HERE, was screaming, and obviously very lost.

I got down on my knees and tried to calm the baby down. But it was to no avail, and the cute little thing dropped onto its stomach, buried its tiny face in the carpet, and continued wailing.

I didn't know what to do. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to pick the baby up. The last thing I need is for the people in my building to think I'm a burglar AND a kidnapper. But I obviously couldn't leave the baby there either. And in any event, when a toddler seems scared and starts crying, my entire heart melts into puddle and I am suddenly willing to do anything asked of me as long as I think it will make everything ok.

I hope one day when the terrorists capture me while I'm couchsurfing they don't read that last sentence.

I figured that since Burke was with me, it would be ok for me to scoop the baby up off the floor. I had an alibi who would totally have my back when the police started coming after me. So I picked up the baby and went on the search for its home.

The problem was, as previously stated, I live in the largest building in the entire world. And so trying to find the baby's family sort of felt like that movie from my childhood American Tale. Which was daunting at first but then I was kind of excited because I have sort of been wanting a baby lately and maybe I wouldn't be able to find the child's mother and then I could just take it home with me and raise it as my own and we would dress up as the little boy and E.T. for Halloween this year and next year we could be the Queen of Colors and The First Eye and the next year we could be June Snapple and Fortify and I haven't thought beyond that year yet but eventually I would go to its high school graduation and it would speak because its the valedictorian and it would be all like, "I never would have made it to this place if my dad didn't believe in me" and then they would have me stand to be honored at its presidential inauguration and 20/20 would be all like, "how were you able to so successfully fill the role as the president's father when you had so much adversity" and I would be all like, "any man can be a father, but it takes a special man to be a dad."


Fortunately for my legal defense, I didn't just take the baby to my apartment and start raising it. Instead I began going door-to-door, holding up the child and asking each resident whether or not it belonged to them. I figured this wasn't likely to be very successful because not very many people who live in my building are capable of hearing a knock on the door or coming to the door at all. But it still seemed like the most reasonable approach.

I felt like a door-to-door salesman. And I also started to wonder what I would do if some creepy person claimed that the child belonged to them. Surely I couldn't just pass the baby over to some stranger without verification.


Then I remembered that one family with children lived a few doors down from me and I thought that maybe they would know some of the other families with children in the building and might be able to identify this one. So I wandered their way and spoke to a man who lived there. He thought he recognized the child and led the way to the FAR end of the building, where we found an apartment with a door slightly ajar.

We knocked. A young mother came to the door, saw the child I was holding, gasped, and reached for it. I hesitatingly handed the child over to her anxious hands. She thanked us profusely, admitted that she didn't realize the door had been left open and thought that this child was still down for its nap.

Feeling a connection to the baby, I lovingly said goodbye. But it was already distracted with some toy and didn't bother to return the farewell.

And I was like, "oh you're welcome. FOR KEEPING YOU ALIVE."

And I was a little annoyed. But then I remembered that I had just helped a neighbor without getting stuck eating crackers inside a stranger's apartment without anyone being home. So I guess you can say I'm growing up.

~It Just Gets Stranger