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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Worse Off

On my drive home from Syracuse yesterday I stopped for gas. In the last year I have learned where the best gas stations are located. For me the best station means easy on and off the interstate. An accessible bathroom that requires the curb cut to be cleared of snow and entrance not be blocked. I treat myself to some junk food--the sort I can eat without causing my stomach to rebel. These modest requirements eliminate about 50% or more of the gas stations I drive by.

Yesterday in a rural area of central New York I stopped for gas at one of my trusted stations. I struggled to get the pump to work. I could not quite see the small electronic screen on the pump. I swiped my card a couple times without success. I gave up and tried to get into the station. Several inches of ice made it impossible to get up the curb cut. Annoyed I was going to give the pump one more try and if it failed go to a different station. Thankfully the pump worked. As my tank was filling up a female employee came out of the station to see if I needed help. This woman had a well worn face. A sad face that revealed she must have led an exceptionally hard life. She could have been 35 or 65 years old. She told me "I hear you need help. Sorry I was in the back and did not see you" (so much for anonymity).  I replied I was fine, thanks any way. I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck going up. I was trapped and knew what was about to be said or take place was going to go badly. As if scripted, the pump clicks off and this woman proceeds to tell me in far too much detail exactly what was wrong with the pump. The more she talks the more obvious it is she is drug addict. The sort of addict that is at the end of her rope. Thanks to my newly found interest in the TV show Breaking Bad I realize this woman is a meth amphetamine addict.  As she speaks to me it is clear she has Meth Mouth. The tooth decay was severe--the worst I have ever seen. By itself this was disturbing. It is not every day you see someone whose entire mouth is filled with rotted or missing teeth. Her addiction was obvious as was a sense of desperation that oozed from her mere presence. She insisted on "helping" me. She told me "God knows I could be worse off than you. I got troubles too. I could be as bad as off as you at any time". Pause as she puts the hose back in the pump cradle. She turns and tells me "Who is going to help me? No one. Yes sir, I am going to be way worse off than you. It is going to happen. I need karma. If I help you maybe someone will help me when I am bad off. You are really bad off. I know I will be too".

The look of defeat in the eyes of the woman I met for just a few moments was haunting. She was physically alive but had long since died inside. Her soul was lost. And I wonder why? Why and where did her life go wrong? Defeat and hopelessness was inscribed on her face. She used me, "helped me", as some sort of good will effort to enhance her future prospects. She did not need me. She needed a shaman. Here I sit a day later and wonder who will save the lost souls of this world and selfishly worry about my own soul. I will ponder this exchange for quite some time.


Michael the Archangel said...

Life ain't fair--be compassionate.

william Peace said...

I thought I was being compassionate.

Middle Child said...

You were compassionate - sometimes I step back and see people as they might have been aged about 3... and wonder at the waste... the littlies usually have such humour in their eyes...almost all of them...some keep it till old age...many do not - a myriad of things can change them and lucky I have been that I seem to be able so far to come back from tragedies - many just can't