Thursday, August 26, 2010

Meeting The Meth Heads

I've been away from the blog for a while because I spent most of my time this week on the road, traveling to and from cases, scenes, interviews and meetings.
I tend not to travel locally with my laptop and rely on my Droid for internet browsing, email, phone on my daily round... because the less I carry, the less can be stolen from me.
I also tend to be very careful when and where I stop my vehicle -- either to stage a surveillance or work a case, because there are always eyes on we strangers, in neighborhoods strange to us.

So a couple of days ago I was in an area of Seattle, White Center... which some not-so-affectionately call "Rat Center"... because it's not the nicest of neighborhoods.
It's one of those communities that has many good people mixed with a bunch of real bad gang-bangers.
A very good police officer was killed there a few years ago.
I was planning to meet a witness not far from the shooting scene and I was on high alert.
I made a point not to wash my car; to dress down; wear no makeup: pull my blond hair back,  and chose my studious glasses vs contact lenses.
I try to draw as little attention to myself as possible in high crime areas.
I am also frequently asked if I am a cop, so I guess I carry myself that way when I carry my black leather notebook, ID, camera, papers and pen.

So before I got to my destination of the day, I noticed my gas gauge running low.
Traffic was backing up and  I decided to pull into what I knew was the last safe gas station before my stop.
I grabbed my bank card from my wallet before exiting the car with my bags locked inside...
stuffed my phone in the side pocket of my cargo pants.... and inserted the bank card into the gas tank reader.
I covered the security code window as I entered my ID when  two white men and a white woman who were evidently druggies approached me right at the gas pump.
They emerged from shadows I never saw.... because it seemed like one minute I was pulling the gas hose off the tank.... and the next minute they were right there.
One guy and girl moved to my right,  another on my left.
As they approached, I looked the guy on my left right in the eyes, nodded my head and said "Hey, how ya doin'?"The respect seemed to throw him off guard.
"We'd be doing better if we had some money," the other guy said.
"Me too, " I replied.
"At least you got that car" the woman said, with a smile that revealed rotten pointed teeth.
"The bank owns my car" I said as I proceeded to pump gas while I noted two things.
First, all three strangers had sores on their face and were clearly Meth Heads looking for a fix, they were not yet high for the day.
The second thing I noticed was the Good Old Boy in a brand new F350 Pickup playing Bruce Springsteen pull in behind me at the pump.

"Can we have some money?" the woman asked me.
"You're asking the wrong person, " I answered. "I can barely fill this tank."
"You got any drugs?" the guy asked.
"Nope," I said. "Left 'em all home."
The humor, or irony, escaped them.

Then the woman said, "Well, we want your car"
"Sorry," I said, "you can't have it."
It was then that the guy in the 350 Pick-Up stepped out of his truck and walked towards me and the three druggies.
I gave Mr. 350 a big smile.
He was very large, maybe 6'2, his muscles were busting out of his shirt. He looked like Paul Bunyon with tattoos.
"Hey Darlin'," he said walking to me, "How you doing?"
"Happy to see you" I said.
His mere presence caused the the three druggies beside me to quickly scamper away and disappear to where ever it was they crawled out from.

I reached my hand out and shook Paul Bunyon's big calloused one.
"Thanks" I said.
"My pleasure" he responded. "I watch those Meth Heads here all the time. I saw them when I was stopped at the light. I watched then move towards you and I just pulled into the pump right behind you."
"You didn't need gas?" I asked.
"No" he replied. "You needed me."
There was silence while I pondered that perfect moment of zen.
Then I asked him what his name was.
He laughed and said, "Just call me Sam... Good Sam."
He walked away, went back in his truck and just sat there... watching my back... until I finished pumping my gas.
When I was done.... he pulled up next to me, gave me a salute.
I saluted back, then blew him a kiss.
Paul Bunyon blushed, smiled, pounded his chest once with his fist and drove off into the sunset.
The last I saw of him was the rear end of his truck, his thumbs-up sign out the driver's window.

I regret not getting Bunyon's plate numbers so I could at least I.D. and thank him further.
But my head wasn't in that space then.
Instead I called 911, shared my experience and descriptions with the operator.
Since no crime was committed all the police could do was keep an eye on the station.
Just like Good Sam.

This experiences prompted me to re-post a video I have shared a few times. Meth is such an all pervasive drug now. Its use is not declining. It is penetrating the suburbs, affecting women young and old, single and married, school children, hardworking fathers, the injured, the unwell and the unemployed.
I am told, at first, it feels like an instant fix to a broken life, an endless stream of energy and hope in a  barren sea.
But it is an illusion.
Meth burns holes in your brain that never fill in again.
The sores are the poisons leaking out of your body.
The rotting teeth are just one sign of your body decomposing while you  live.
Meth can also cause extreme acts of aggression, depravity, kills... and over kills.

It is true people can come back from Meth use however that is not the norm.
Our species is based on survival of the fittest and Meth Heads are not the fittest.

The video I will post next is one of my favorite of the Faces of Meth series...there's also a version on my links list to the left. I apologize to those of you who find it redundant and dated.
For those who haven't seen it, I think it will help you see what this evil substance can do to people who were once whole.

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