Track marks to nowhere

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On Thursday night I was driving down the street when I came to a four-way stop at a residential intersection. I stopped for the stop sign and was about to go when I saw a guy on his bicycle heading toward me from the cross street. He was about to run the stop sign, but he saw the police car at the last moment. Instead of going straight he made a quick right turn without stopping.

I made a U-turn and decided to talk with rider about the violation. After I stopped him the rider said, “Sorry, I don’t have brakes.”

I spoke to him briefly about the violation and found out he really didn’t have brakes. Who rides a bike with no brakes? That’s like playing football without a helmet or sky diving without a parachute.

We then spent the next 15 minutes talking about his heroin addiction and life on the street. He told me that he and his “baby’s momma” had their son taken away from them when he was born. He was in prison at the time and she was a heroin addict. The child was eventually adopted and now lives in the Midwest.

After talking about his son he told me about being homeless and injecting heroin two or three times a day.

When I was about to leave I asked, “Can I see your track marks?” I explained to him I wanted to take a picture of them so other people could learn from his addiction.

“Yeah, you’ve been cool,” he replied as he pulled up the sleeve of his hoodie. I took my phone out and he became an “arm model” for a brief moment.

The tracks marks told the story of addiction that a lot of people don’t understand or have any idea what these people go through. They also told the story of a homeless 30 year old, who doesn’t even have a driver’s license and lives behind Walmart.

This guy was the perfect example of why people should stay away from drugs.

Talking with a drug addict

Heroin-Rehab

A few weeks ago I was driving through an intersection when I noticed a transient standing on the median with a sign asking for money. On my second pass around the area I saw the same guy step into the street against the “Don’t Walk” symbol as he walked in front of a car. That’s when I decided I was going to stop and talk with him.

I parked my car in the driveway of a gas station and waited for him to come over to the corner. I told him hi and asked to speak with him. He waved both hands in the air as he said, “Come on man. I’m starving. I’m just trying to make some money.”

I told him I wanted talk for two reasons. The first was about walking in front of the car. The second was because someone had just taken money from the tip jar at my favorite chicken restaurant 100 yards down the street. I gave him the description of the suspect and asked if he had seen that guy walking around here.

He calmed down after hearing that and told me he liked the food at that restaurant too. He also said he hadn’t seen anyone that fit the description.

I then decided to ask him questions about how long he’d been on the street, where he grew up and where his family was. For the next 15 to 20 minutes he talked about being addicted to heroin, being homeless and not being able to walk away from living on the street. He told me where he grew up and said his mother sometimes visited him out here.

I felt bad for his mother and wondered what she had gone through over the years, yet she still drove out to visit him on the street. Based on where she lived, she had to take two different freeways to get here.

I asked him about being able to go back home for help. The man, who was in his early 30s, said he could, but he always ended up back on the street because of his addiction.

I asked how him much he spent a day on heroin. He said, “I spent $45 today and I didn’t even get high. I’m pissed.” He then said, “I spent enough to stay well.”

We talked for a little while longer about what it’s like to have withdrawal symptoms and how he started using drugs, along with his time in jail. He had been nice to me and spoke freely about his problems so I asked, “Do you want a sandwich?”

His eyes lit up as he said, “Yes.”

“It’s salami.”

“I love salami.”

I walked over to my car and got the sandwich out of my cooler. I went back to where he was and handed it to him.

He smiled as he said, “Thanks officer. What’s your name?” I told him and we said goodbye.

I drove away still thinking about his mother coming out to visit him. That wasn’t the first time I’ve heard about a parent coming out to see their homeless adult child on the street. We never wonder about the families and what they sometimes go through. It’s something to think about.

There’s still good in people

Heroin-Rehab

What do you see when you turn on the TV? You see conflict, chaos and people who just can’t get along. You see people who would cross a busy street just to kick a person while they’re down and then celebrate about it.

We, as officers, see firsthand what mean, crazy and violent things people do to each other.

Today I witnessed something rare. I actually saw the opposite of all the craziness and nonsense in the world.

I responded to a “person down” call at one of our parks. The call said a male was inside a woman’s bathroom and not breathing. When I arrived, the paramedics were already there and treating a male, who overdosed on heroin.

A homeless woman told us she was in the bathroom at time taking a “birdbath” as she tried to wash herself. While she was in the restroom she could hear a man and woman cutting an aluminum can open to make a “cooker” so they could inject heroin.

She knew what this sounded like because she was also a heroin user.

At one point the man went down and stopped breathing. The woman who was with him, took off and left the male on the floor in the bathroom.

The homeless woman saw this and knew he wasn’t breathing. She took action and started doing CPR on him, even though he was a complete stranger to her.

She said, “I just couldn’t leave him there.”

“Did you give him mouth to mouth?” I asked.

“Yeah. I’ve done CPR before.”

“Really?” I asked.

“Yes. To my mom. I was 12 years old at the time.” She made it sound like her mom passed away that day so I didn’t ask her any more questions.

The paramedics were able to revive the male and transported him to the hospital. We told the woman it looked like she had saved his life and told her she did a good job.

When we were done, she walked off into the park holding a bag with all of her belongings. She went back into her little world that most people will never be able to understand.

This is because the world has forgotten her and most people wouldn’t give her the time of day because of the way she looks.

Despite this, she saw that a complete stranger needed help and she jumped in with both feet and did what she could for him.

I’m not saying it’s safe to give a heroin addict mouth to mouth, but we can all learn a little something from the spirit of this woman, who helped another human being who was in need.

The spirit she displayed wasn’t much different from cops and firefighters, who are out there every day doing things for people they don’t know. They also don’t ask for anything in return.

Just something to think about.