Tuesday, September 8, 2015

That Crazy Lady in the Parking Lot

I yelled at a heroin addict yesterday.

Mike and I had stopped by the market after a beautiful walk at the falls with Teddy. The setting sun had made a rainbow in the spray and I found a Pacific treefrog that waited while I stared at his greenness. I was feeling good.

Then, on the way home, I realized that my dinner plan wasn't going to work since it was late, still summer light but a school night. We needed to stop.

Mike and I walked out of the store with a loaded cart, milk, bread, rice, a kielbasa, sour cream, sparkling water. As I wrestled my cart over a curb, a man appeared at the slot where the grocery carts belong. We wrestled with the cart too, but I knew not to speak to him.

First, there's a silhouette to a heroin addict, gaunt and hunched. Usually, a hat and heavy clothing cover bad hair and lesions on the skin. This one had both. He didn't walk as much as shuffle. If he had smiled, he might have had one or two teeth left, but I didn't smile at him. Heartless, I know. If I had come close, I might have smelled that chemical smell. Not a chance in hell. I won't go near that smell.

I've noticed that the fleshy woman who sells drugs at the library is nearly unrecognizable these days, thick dyed hair replaced by stringy gray hair and weight dropped to anorexic levels. I once went into the restroom at the library and she was there. The stench was overwhelming. I didn't even want to pee in there. I was afraid I might catch something.

This man could have been her new twin. He seemed short. I didn't want to meet his eyes. There is no soul in a heroin addict's eyes. He placed a heavy crate into the grocery cart and shuffled across the parking lot. He was headed out the lane when it hit me.

I get angry. Over and over other people, not me, have given them opportunities. You can call me a cold-hearted bitch now if you want. Lovely people offered cash for work to the 'homeless,' an honest day, a few dollars here and there, a free cup of coffee. Over and over these people have stolen despite their charity. The till was taken. The poor church was robbed. People have begun to carry their purses after services and warning others to do the same. I've been told the drug addicts only need a chance, some charity, a good turn, an offer of rehab.

These drug addicts don't want to be saved. They want their next hit. Quitting is hard. Their brains are rewired.

I stood in that parking lot, staring at the man stealing a grocery cart from a friend that owned the store. How much do those things cost? What kind of crap was getting all over it that I didn't want touching my groceries? Who the hell did he think he was?

I got mad.

"Hey! You!" I yelled. "You can't take that cart. That belongs here."

"Phil and Mona said I could." He shuffled a little bit closer to the road.

"No!" I shouted. "That cart belongs to Jim. That cart belongs here in the parking lot."

"But Phil and Mona said I could have it." He looked at me. I didn't look away. I usually look away. Drug addicted eyes have no depth. A wild animal's eyes have more depth.

"You need to leave that cart in the parking lot," I yelled, gathering steam. I rolled my cart toward his. Mike swept four bags of groceries out of our cart as I pushed by.

The man shifted his eyes away. He lifted his crate out of the cart. He scrabbled away. His crate looked heavy. He moved quickly across the street.

I nested his cart with mine and turned it back toward the store. There I tucked it in with the others. I put one foot on the automatic door to open it.

"There's a guy outside trying to take your carts."

"Who?" the cashier said. Customers, the cashier, and I looked at a man trying to hide around the corner of the building across the street. He still wanted his cart, but he knew we were looking.

"Okay, thanks," the cashier said.

Customers went back to their shopping after staring at me for a moment, not with awe, but with amusement, holding a certain distance.

I was the crazy lady that yelled at drug addicts in the parking lot. Great. This is the cost of drugs in the community. My future is cut out for me. That crazy lady.

Thank you for listening, jules

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