Yesterday, I attended an all-staff meeting at the bar. My boss (we’ll call her Lucy) arranged it so that we could get any problems and/or concerns out as well as tell her what she needs to purchase to make our jobs easier. I gave my two cents and so did everyone else. Lucy mentioned that two of the gals wouldn’t be attending the meeting because they were at a funeral in New Jersey. Apparently, a regular, and an ex of one of the girls, nodded off in his apartment while high on heroin and burned himself to death.
The mention of nodders drove the meeting in an entirely different direction. One of the veteran bartenders voiced his concern about the rise of heroin use in the area. Apparently, there are several people who like to come in and nod off in the bathroom or at the bar while sipping coffee. But no one sounded more intriguing and scary than a person known as “The Ghost”.
The Ghost is a kid who was actually IN the movie Kids. He is around 25 now and is a full-time junkie. He’s harmless
– more or less – and he’s known for sneaking into bars in the area and stealing whatever isn’t nailed down. Most recently, he stole the plunger from the bathroom. The hell?
The Ghost has been told over and over again he isn’t welcome. Ever. But apparently he still sneaks in and will attempt to steal whatever he can get his hands on. The turntable needles are no longer with us. I imagine they were sold for a few bucks on the nearest corner. I’m assuming the movie Kids didn’t do much for his acting career. (Oh how I hated that film. But that’s a story for another day.)
There are others, too. But I won’t bore you with the details surrounding the Brooklyn heroin population. I just never knew it was so prevalent! Today I thought about the women I work with and how awful they must feel. I thought about all the folks who live in the area and those who frequent the bars. Most everyone I work with lives within walking distance. Most of our patrons are locals as well.
About a week and a half ago, during that hellish ice storm, sirens streamed past my kitchen window up the boulevard behind our apartment. I noticed fire trucks and police cars, ambulances and more fire trucks. I remember thinking, “Someone is in trouble.” And then I continued cleaning.
The next day, my brother called to say that a house that lay between our two apartments had caught on fire. The sirens I heard were on their way to douse that same fire. The top floor apartment burned up completely but the firemen were able to put it out before it hit the other floors. The house was damaged so badly, that all the other residents were forced to find new places to live. And more recently that house was brought to the ground entirely.
I can’t help but wonder if I saw was the same fire that claimed that kid’s life. It’s as if I need to know that my imagination isn’t correct in thinking that the world is indeed that small and predictable.
Lastly, I’d like to think that if someone I knew was in trouble and giving their life up to addiction, I’d have the power to stop them. But I realize how naive that is. I’d like to think that I’d tie them up and lock them in a room until they are free. I know that isn’t possible. I know it isn’t that easy. Still, that kid had a mother. He was once a little boy. And somehow, just knowing that affects me greatly.
It’s so easy to dismiss a siren as some anonymous tragedy. When communities were smaller, a fire alarm was a call to action to the community: someone needs help, we must all react. Now a siren means “get out of the way and go about your business,” and like well trained drones we comply physically and emotionally. We react similarly to the nodders and others who are quietly destroying themselves, but nobody is responding to their silent sirens, and that is what you’re sensing. This is why I make a point of reading your blog at least once a day. Sweet mihow, so hard of hearing but yet can detect the quietest alarms.
Mihow you are such a sweetheart. I think that if more people viewed addiction through your eyes, we’d be one step closer to a solution.
I don’t believe in the whole “demons/satan” thing. But if I did I’d say Heroin and Crack are the kingpins. I’m so grateful that I never had the opportunity to try heroin, because I know if I had I’d be gone now. When I see people in active heroin addiction, it feels like I’m watching a terrible wreck happen, and I was supposed to be IN THAT CAR.
I love you, Mihow. You are a kind soul.
I used to say the same thing, Amanda. I am so glad i don’t like needles and never came in contact with heroin. I imagine it’s impossible NOT to like. (I mean biologically speaking.) Thank goodness I am too much a wimp for that. :]
Truthfully, I didn’t even know what the signs of user were until I met Toby. We were on the train one night and there was a perfectly young and able female on the seat across from us. She could not hold her head up—just kept falling forward with every rollback of her eye. It was freakish. Here, I thought she was just sick. It was then Toby let me know that was a telltale sign of a heroin user. I had no idea. Shit, I have felt the way she looked having my period. So how the heck was I to know? Naive.
Great post, girl. Addiction is a serious disease, and just like you can’t cure a loved one’s cancer, you can’t cure their addiction either.
I am that addict. Mercifully, my dance with shooting heroin and cocaine lasted only a few months as I was already so close to my bottom. I have friends who lived on that precipice for years…YEARS. I have friends who died of overdose and a friend who shot himself in the head because he couldn’t take the pain anymore, and couldn’t stop.
It is very sad indeed. I used to think nobody could tell. Now I have radar for it…can spot a junkie a mile away. I am so grateful to be alive and more than that—to WANT to be.
That’s what my boss said, too. She can spot them because she (at one time a long time ago) was one. :/ Crazy.
I’m happy to see you made it out, Sarah. Good for you. I imagine you’re stronger now because of it.
I hope this doesn’t offend anyone that I noticed this in the midst of reading a poignant and well-written post (as usual Mihow, you rock!) but there is a Google ad for Easter Bunny Cakes right next to this entry, titled “Heroin.” It struck me as funny but also as kind of disturbing. That’s capitalism for you—doesn’t notice the gravity of a situation right next to it while it hawks Easter Bunny cakes.
Offend? No way! And that is funny. Maybe I DO want an Easter Bunny cake. Yum.
Interesting stuff. Heroine isn’t too hot in MN, but meth and crack are. I drive past crackheads every single day on my way to and from work, and they’re just chewed up and spit out. I call them bobble heads, because that’s about how coordinated they are. Eyes bugged out. Skinny as hell. I’m so glad that my only addictions are the occasional trip to Gap and Old Navy. Oh, and salt.
I guess I’m a bleeding heart, but it really bothers me that we can’t do something about it. What a mess.
I am addicted to salt. I love salt. I also can’t seem to give up this Web site and the Internet. Have pity on me. But not too much because there is only so much to go around.
Addiction is such a twisted, complex problem. The issues are so deep and the addicts I have known have been trying to silence some sort of hurt instead of dealing with it head on. I’m very lucky to come from a family that doesn’t have alcoholism or drug abuse pumping through our genes, but I’ve had a few friends who have dealt with addiction, and it’s tough to beat. It means facing inner demons and experiencing raw emotions. That ain’t easy.
outstanding read…thanx for sharing it
Not that this is directly related – Mitch Hedberg was found dead in a New Jersey hotel room. I’m sad.
it’s really sad. :[ He was so amazingly funny. Got us the entire way from San Fran to LA and then well into Arizona. Very sad indeed.
Great post, intense.
So sad… that someone would die alone in a stupor. Burned up. I hope that ghost will rest now, in peace.
And that Kids movie made me so angry and so sad. I remember I was angry for a few weeks. Kind of like how I felt after I saw Leaving Las Vegas.
Poor Mitch. I hope he will rest in peace too.