When our daughter was born we lived between junkies and a liquor store. It was a gorgeous apartment, the owners of the store were great people. We loved everything about it except for the constant parade of despair seeking one or the other (or often both) fixes.
It was pretty much a nightmare. Our stuff was always being stolen. Sometimes I’d be filling the coffee pot in the morning and look out the window to find people crashed out on our deck. The junkies in residence had literally burned down their previous house trying to convert the hot water heater to propane grill tanks because their natural gas had been shut off, so there was a constant fear they were going to do something similar and endanger us as well. Out on the street mothers left babies in hot cars to go inside and buy (they were selling). As for the booze crowd, there is apparently a thing where you buy two single Twisted Tea tallboys, chug one on the sidewalk, throw the empty into the back of your truck and then crack the other, putting it in the beverage holder, and then take off down the street. This is, like, a normal part of some peoples’ day. I saw this out my window multiple times a given week. I was a regular on the police tip line.
It sucked. We moved.
So, given my experiences, I see a massive challenge for myself at least with our new compassion policy toward addicts here in Gloucester which we here at The Clam whole heartedly support. Namely: Some addicts are frequently really fucking annoying and even dangerous. I’m not blaming here, It’s a disease I get it, I’m just stating a fact. It is a pain in the ass to have people nodded out in your deck furniture and having to check for needles before you let your toddler go out and play in her own yard. It’s dangerous as balls to have blitzed dudes driving around in huge trucks.
What are we supposed to do with our anger and annoyance at the breaking of the social contract that comes with a highly visible percent of a group of people in the full blazing flame of their addictions?
I don’t have any good answers. I’m tremendously glad the police, as a matter of policy, are making a change. I hope beyond hope that those in need take the police and public health system at their word and get help and that it works, that folks get into treatment and their lives and their families lives and the life of our community are transformed as a result. This is a fresh start for us all and I and we here at your favorite snarkblog intend to put all our effort and energy into making the new system successful even past its inevitable hiccups as it comes on line.
But I’m still going to be pissed as fuck when my bike gets jacked at the train station for the fourth time so someone can sell it to one of the scrap dudes for just enough to score on. One of my favorite quotes is by one of the pioneers of quantum physics, Niels Bohr. He said, “The opposite of a fact is a falsehood but the opposite of a profound truth is often another profound truth.” Let’s apply it to this situation:
Derek Potocki was ensnared so tightly in the grip of his addiction he donned an absurd disguise and robbed a local bank in a generally safe, trusting community, apparently without any kind of even rudimentary plan to ensure his own success.
Derek Potocki is an idiot jackhole.
Both of these are true. People in the grips of their addictions do things they otherwise wouldn’t. Idiots in the grips of addiction do astoundingly stupid things involving false beards and running around town like some kind of whacked-out Papa Smurf until the cops nab them at the train station in what would make the lamest episode of “The Fugitive” ever.
So, I’m asking myself, where am I going to find this compassion as the inevitable visible reality of addiction hits me in the face when I’m least suspecting it? I am most certainly going to dig for my better self, but I have to admit I don’t feel an increased need to tolerate the nuisance or dangerous behavior caused by addiction, plain old garden-variety uncaring stupidity or the all-too-prevalent cocktail of both. I have compassion for addicts as human beings. But I have none for behavior that makes my town feel like a shithole or endangers others. It’s just that simple.
My fervent hope is that the new policies and support systems provide actually less of an excuse for chemically-induced dubmassery as now there is a place where addicts can go for support and thus even less call to steal a bike or rob a bank or pass out on the bench in front of Clammedia Tower surrounded by Dunks cups and sandwich wrappers.
So with that hope in place I’m going to do my best to make this work. I commend everyone involved especially Chief Campanello . It’s not going to be easy and we can’t give up. I want to break the back of addiction in Gloucester and move on to our future, which I know is bright.
Because what we’re doing now clearly isn’t working.