I knew who threw this rig on the ground. I was angry at him. But I thought he broke the needle off so I was mixed emotionally about it. But I was wrong. I pulled the orange cap off and the needle was still fully intact. I broke off the needle on the ground, put the cap back on and threw it in the trash. (I don't know if that's the best approach to handling these things on the street. But a young homeless woman did this in front of me once and it always left a powerful impression.)
I was pissed.
I went into the gas station where I found this to get my Polar Pop and a pack of cigarettes to share with my houseless friends.
The man who I highly expected did this was sitting on the ground under the bus stop shelter across the street. He waved me over. I was ready to give him a stern talking to about how doing this makes ALL drug addicts look bad. About how doing this makes my job harder trying to build compassion for addicted people.
He's an older African American man who lives unsheltered in the neighborhood. He constantly is being beaten and stolen from.
I got to him and tears were streaming down his face. His dark skin contrasted powerfully with the salty water reflecting the sun on his face.
He asked me. No. He begged me for money for "his medication". This is a man who has lost everything and is in brutal emotional and physical suffering.
As much pain as fentanyl takes away it brings it back tenfold on the way back down. He was suffering as much as any human being I have ever seen suffer.
I rarely bring cash with me. Not because I care what people do with it. But EVERYONE needs cash for endless reasons. $20 lasts five minutes in this gas station parking lot.
Of course I didn't scold him for leaving that needle in the parking lot. I got it. He was in so much anguish and depression that doing the right thing with that needle felt like climbing Mount Everest to him. He couldn't do it.
I sat on the ground there with him and talked to him for a while. I gave him a couple cigarettes. I lit one for him with a lighter another homeless person gave me to do this very thing.
Another friend came by and started razzing the man I was sitting with. Just talking shit, but in a friendly way. My friend asked me one more time for 50 cents, this time for a bus ride. The other guy shouted, "Yeah. Like you go anywhere on a bus."
My friend who was so beaten down stood up and started yelling at my other friend to "stay the fuck up out his business."
I could tell he felt better. I think the smoke and the conversation helped.
I wanted to share this story because this is the story of humanity. Every time you think you can't understand why people are acting "stupid" or "hateful" remember this: hurt people hurt people. Everyone got to the place they are in for powerful, legitimate reasons. You likely would do the exact same thing if you were in their shoes.
And I also know that the reason you often judge others so harshly is because you are hurting too. So just as I can't be angry at my friend for throwing his dirty rig on the ground, I can't be angry at you for being angry at him.
All I ask is that when you are in a moment of strength to try to remember we all are just doing the best we can.
I love you.