Sunday, April 16, 2006


I hired a guy no one wanted, they said he had a habit of only showing up when he felt like it, I suspected what was really going on was that he only showed up when he had some kind of pain medication, the "Pain of life" kind.

He was great the first day, one of the best helpers I had, he did the job in half the time as my other helpers had.

Sure enough he didn't show up the next day. The day after that he did show up, but at the office looking to get paid for the one day he worked.

I pulled him aside and asked what was wrong.

" have bad legs, and a bad back and ......uh.....I was gonna come back but the pain was too I gotta quit, sorry"

I'll translate what he was really saying to me. ("I'm an opiate addict as well as an alcoholic, I can stay sober long enough to do the job but when I run out of my dope I have to go scrounging for more, so I can't work because I need this measley 70 bucks I'm getting to go see if I can find some, by the time I get back you will have hired someone else".)

Addicts are like that, they intend good things, they do want to work, their addiction just gets in the fucking way of everything, I know, I was one for a long time, I'm no better than him, just luckier.

His pain was deep inside him, it wasn't physical, it was emotional and spiritual, I knew that.

I needed him, he needed a paycheck, and he was on the street so he needed somewhere to sleep, but he also needed to be medicated or he couldn't function.

I will help any addict I can, if he wants to clean up, I will help him, if he doesn't and is suffering, I will medicate him, I know the pain, I felt it for a long time.

I told him I understood his pain, without going into detail. I asked him to wait for me, that I would be back shortly. He did.

When I returned I had what he needed, I asked if it would help with his pain, would he be able to work. His eyes lit up, his demeanor changed in an instant, I understood, and he knew it, the lights went on.

So I gave him his medication every morning, he worked the whole spot, never missed a day, never late from a break, he was the star employee.

When the spot ended, and he got paid, he thanked me and said he would be waiting for me to pull in next year.

He will be there, if the street or his addiction hasn't swallowed him yet.

Addicts die, they're dead long before their body dies, it's just a fact, most will never make it. If he is there this coming season I will be surprised.

Someday he won't be there, and I will know what happened to him.


susan said...

This is a harsh reality that many people are unwilling or unable to accept. It's easy to judge people based on one problem, without looking beyond it to the person and his or her basic needs. It's gets us off the hook. I've known show people to be more forgiving than others in such circumstances. You've managed to tell the story and preserve it's inherent dignity. Thanks.

Who Cares said...

I really hope he shows up this year.

Violet said...

agreed on the emotional, disagree with the spiritual...that is 12 step ideology, sinking through yer otherwise smart, super articulate brain. glad you helped this guy. i would too if i coulda.