Two very interesting things happen to me this past week. The first happened Friday Afternoon. I am the Accounting Manager for several nursing homes and an assisted living. Three of my four buildings are in the western part of the state, about a 3 hour drive one way. Friday I was scheduled to go to all three buildings, something I haven’t done in several months. I left my house at the ass-crack of dawn. Actually, before dawn to be exact. I made it out to the first building by 8 in the morning, and headed to the second building around 11. On the way to the third building I decided to stop at a small flower shop that I have noticed every time I go out there. If you don’t know me personally, then you don’t know that I am an avid gardener. Somewhat new at it, but I had a good teacher (ahem, Steen!) and I absolutely LOVE it. There is nothing more gratifying than watching something you have put in the ground, given love to, tended to on the regular, grow into something beautiful and yummy and successful. This particular garden shop always has the cutest displays out front and I was running ahead of time so I pulled in.
It’s amazing how the world works in such mysterious ways. What made me stop on this particular day? Who knows, but it proved to be enlightening, if not for me but for someone else. The shop was one of these old time florist shops. It smelled of flowers, plants, peat moss, manure and lots of love. There were ferns and ivy, roses and other stemmed flowers, balloons and knickknacks. I knew I could easily get lost and lose time if I wasn’t paying attention. I had the store almost completely to myself. There was one other woman who was probably in her 60’s and the store owner, a small gray-haired woman with a friendly face and a cheerful voice. I wasn’t really paying them any notice until I heard the older woman say that her house had recently got broken into. Normally, this would be no shocker except if you knew the area, it seemed so odd. I started ease-dropping, but just a little. She went on to say she was surprised because she had lived in the same house for 40 years and nothing like this had ever happened. And she couldn’t imagine who it was but only a few pieces of jewelry are missing and a large jar that held all of her coins, she claimed, about $50 worth of change. In my head I was thinking, I wonder if one of her kids/grandkids/niece/nephew was an addict. As I moved from the knickknacks over to the spider plants, I heard her say to the woman that crime is starting to become an issue because of all the “druggies”. Why is it always the older generation that uses that term, “druggie”? But of course, I could not help myself. Could not. Could. Not.
I casually started working my way over to the counter they were leaning against. As I got closer I heard them continue to talk, the store owner saying she didn’t know drugs were a problem and the older woman said that her daughter’s house had recently been broken into. Oh? Really? Hmmm. So, I finally spoke up. I just started by asking if the drugs in this area were a real problem, explaining I was only passing through, since I was from the Boston area. They both gave their idea of whether drugs were a problem or not and why or why not. I sort of spoke of the drug issue in Boston and said I was surprised they hadn’t heard how hard Springfield, which wasn’t far from them, was hit by drugs. And, then I drove in, head first. This is how the conversation went:
Me: I couldn’t help but over hear that your house was broken into. That is really scary. What was taken? Her: Oh, my jewelry. Some things I never even wear anymore and I wouldn’t have even noticed if I hadn’t noticed that the jug of coins was missing.
Me: Oh, hmmm…. And you said your daughter’s house was robbed too? That’s a weird coincidence.
Her: Yes it was and she only had some tools missing from her garage.
Me: You have an addict in your family.
Her: What? What do you mean by that?.
Me: Listen, you don’t have someone in your family, a child or grandchild or nephew or niece that has been having a tough time? That has been particularly down on their luck? Or seems absent? Maybe a neighbor kid or a friend’s kid? Someone that might know you enough to know you wouldn’t notice that jar of coins missing for a while?
She was silent, sort of staring at me with a quizzical look on her face.
Me: Do you have someone that is borrowing $20 or $40 from you often? Always has car trouble? Has more bosses that fire them for no reason at all, than anyone you have ever met?
Her: (very quietly) actually yes.
Me: You have a druggie in your life. And I would guarantee that jewelry and coins did not disappear at the same time. Your addict needs someone to call them out, to get them help. As long as you continue to pretend that it isn’t happening, the easier it is for them to continue to use. Call them out. Tell them you know. And change your locks. Immediately.
Her: (after a moment of silence) How do you know? How in the world can you be sure?
Me: My daughter is a heroin addict. And it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to know. If you think your loved one is an addict, if all the signs are there, then they are an addict.
Shop Owner: It makes sense. He is a druggie. You have to tell his mother. (At this point, I realize the shop owner knows this woman really well, and knows who the addict is).
Me: Ok Ladies, I’m going to be late for my next appointment, good luck.
Her: Wait, what am I supposed to say to him?
Me: Call him and say I know you are using drugs, and you are in a bad place and I will help you if you want it, but until you get help do not ask me for money, and I’m changing my locks so you can’t steal from me anymore. And I would tell him that you are going to let the police know that you think he is the thief.
And I left. I walked out of that little store that I have admired from the road so many times, and got in my car. I sat in my car for a few minutes before I left. I was sad for that woman. I remember being her, not wanting to believe that someone I love was a drug addict. I remember what it felt like to know something was wrong and not be willing to admit it. Whoever Him was, I said a little prayer that he got help, that he took advantage of the help and survived. The world really works in mysterious ways.
The other strange thing that happened to me is a post for another day.