Do you ever have one of the those weeks that when the next week begins you ask yourself, “Did that really happen?”. I definitely had one of those weeks last week.
It began last Tuesday as I was leaving my house to head over to my daughter’s school to talk to a few perspective parents about Margaret Brent Elementary/Middle School (if you click on the link you will find a great write about Career Day plus a great picture of our principle looking like a firefighter), when out of the corner of my eye, I see a woman stumbling up the alley. Hate to even say this out loud, but this isn’t uncommon, so I put my stuff in the car, start the car, and am about to back out of my parking pack when I realized she is slumped over, but standing right in my path. At this point, I can’t help but be nosey. As I approach, a man (also stumbling) approaches. It is obvious as I get closer that both individuals are strung out. I ask if they might be lost, to which the man replies they took a shortcut through the alleys and can’t find their way to their house. Asking their address, I discover they are only 2 blocks away from their house.
Dilemma 1: How do I get them out of my alley?
So I have a few different options—the point out directions option, the walk them up to the end of the alley (giving them a clear view of their house) and the option I would never take—drive them home. I decided to walk them to the end of the alley and up to the next block.
Dilemma 2: Do you tell the guy he dropped his stash?
But then, I have another decision to make, as we are walking ( well, I was walking–they were stumbling) she starts dropping items (lighters and cigarettes) and as he is trying to help, he begins to drop things (like a bag of drugs). Do you tell the guy he dropped his stash? I decided not to do, but to just distract and hurry them along their way.
Dilemma 3: What do you do with the stash in your alley?
At first, I thought I should call the police, but seriously–how do you explain that? And will they arrive before the guy (if he could remember where he was) comes back to find it. So, I did what I see on TV and flushed the contents of the bag down the toilet. I know—totally bad for the fish,. Sorry:( A friend suggested that I should have put it one of the many rat burrows in our alley–I will have to remember that for the next time.
As i thought about the encounter the next few days, I wondered if I should have said or did more, what should I have done differently. I am by no means a drug counselor and couldn’t begin to guess what was in the bag (I just know it wasn’t pot). What I could do is pray for them….which is what I began doing. And so i thought this was the end of the story. But it wasn’t. This was just part 1.
On Saturday, we had a neighborhood yard sale. It was a great event. I cleared out a good portion of baby things. (Yes, I am a hoarder). The best part was what we didn’t sell was picked up at 2pm by the AMVETS. (This thrilled JT)
So, here we are with all our baby goods out front, selling a little here and a little there, when I see a couple walking up the street, they look familiar, but I can’t place them. As they get closer, I realize who they are. You guessed it…Tuesday’s alley friends. My heart is racing–as I picture the white powder swirling in the toilet—do they know who I am? It becomes clear in 30 seconds that remember nothing—Thank you, God!
Dilemma 4: Do you sell baby stuff to them?
The woman is clearly excited about this yard sale find. And immediately wants to buy quite a few of the baby items. I stupidly asked “Oh, do you a have friend that is looking for baby stuff?” “No” she replied. “I have a 4 month old.” I am not sure what my facial expression was, but I am sure there was nothing pastoral on it.
The couple wanted to buy 3 items (a bouncy seat, swing, and activity center) which I agreed to sell them (My thought process: 1- better they use the money on this than drugs and 2-JT was excited to get rid of it all. I didn’t tell him about Tuesday). They gave me half the money and asked me to hold the items till they returned from her counseling appointment.
Dilemma 5: When will or will they return?
They walked by our house at 8:30am and it was now 11am something. No sight of them. Are they going to come back? Did they finally remember me? It wasn’t until a quarter till 12 that I caught a glimpse of him down the street. Is this good or not? He is obviously high on something and begins to tell me how he spent the last hour looking for our house. He gives me the rest of the money (his wallet is filled with 50’s). I can’t help but wonder about that, I mean, who has 50’s any more? He loads his arms up, even after I offered for JT to help (hoping we could find out his address) and wanders up the street.
I do wish I remembered their house address because I would most definitely be calling child protection services. But I don’t–I could knock on every door on the block, but am not thinking that is a wise decision, so all I can do is pray. Pray that she is getting the help that she needs, pray that there is someone else living with them who is responsible and is taking good care of the baby, and pray that perhaps when I do see them again I will know what to say or do.