“There is a way which seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”
I was reminded of this proverb yesterday on my way to work as I drove by a very familiar face, that I had not seen in months, walking in the opposite direction. I’ll tell you why in a minute, but first I must give you a little background information.
I live in an area that is currently undergoing gentrification. When we first moved here about three years ago and after we were done moving in our stuff, we decided to walk to a nearby Mexican restaurant for dinner. This restaurant is about three blocks away from my place, and on the way there, one would walk by this really sketchy mini-mart that keeps the local drunks well stocked in Steelhead and other types of high content alcohol. This corner is also the local hangout/loitering joint for all the druggies, dealers and hookers. It is the kind of scene that you find being glorified in some rap videos… and when you walk by the place, seeing the same people year in year out, its no wonder life simply passes some of these folks by.
Anyway as I was saying, we go to this restaurant, have our dinner, and as we are leaving the restaurant, this lady walks up to me and asks for a dollar. She looks a little unkempt and I noticed that her fingernails are really filthy. So I pull out my wallet, pluck a dollar, at the same time she notices I have more than ten dollars so she changes her mind and literally starts begging and pleading for $5 instead. I gave her the $1 as she had originally asked.
Little did I know that I was going to be seeing her quite a lot? Over the next couple of years, I would always see her walking all over the neighborhood, accosting just about everyone she met for money. Once in a while, I would also see her obviously selling drugs. It was really obvious that she was/is a drug addict, that she seldom showered and was very well known just about everywhere east of downtown. We all had a nickname for her. She was generally known as the “crack lady.” This name did not come about because we were trying to be mean, but simply because it was obvious she was a druggie. Every so often she would disappear for a couple of weeks to a month then she would show up again. I suspect she was probably arrested for minor drug/loitering type offences but I can’t say that for sure.
Well, I had not seen her for over 6 to 8 months till yesterday. I was a bit surprised to see her because I had sort of assumed that maybe she had moved on to another place… or worse, died. What struck me though was that she was carrying a large black plastic garbage bag in addition to her usual carry bag and on top of that she was crying as she was walking. She looked really miserable, really filthy and her teeth were all brown. I really don’t know why she was crying. I don’t know where she was been these past few months. I don’t even know what her current physical, mental, psychological or spiritual health is, but I have no doubt that even she realizes that she is in a really miserable place and I have no doubt that drugs and drug addiction has played a major role in her current condition.