Saturday, December 05, 2009


The man was sitting by the side of the road, holding a sign. He was probably in his late 50's, with the craggy face and graying whiskers but not yet old enough for Social Security or SSI. I presume the sign said something soliciting money, but I could not read it. His hand was shaking too much from alcohol withdrawal tremors.

There is something missing in some people, a hole they fill in whatever way they can. For some, it is alcohol. For others, drugs. Yet the cause is the same -- a life run off the rails because something is missing, something in their psyche, in their whole mind-body makeup, and there's no way to fill that hole that they can otherwise find.

I'm not sure what the answer is. It's clear that they aren't this way voluntarily, that they no more chose to be this way than you chose your skin color, but there seems nothing that can be done to "cure" them. Drug abuse programs, alcohol abuse programs, none of these work for the "intransigent addict". Yet we treat them like they're just lazy, rather than having something seriously wrong in how their brains are put together. It's odd, really, this man, sitting by the side of the road in the cold, holding his sign while his body trembles craving alcohol... it is as if the majority of Americans shudder, view him with the sort of horror that child molesters might get. Yet he is harmless, other than that hole in his head that leads him to fill it with alcohol. Yet he has been relegated to this nightmarish world of begging for alms on the side of the road and sleeping under bushes because... why?

If he were a stray dog, my town would pick him up and bring him to a no-kill shelter run by the Humane Society where he could live out the remainder of his life well-fed in a warm, secure place with volunteers who regularly come in to interact with him. But he's not a dog, so he's on the street. When did our society start viewing dogs as more important than human beings, anyhow?

-- Badtux the Puzzled Penguin


  1. It's unfortunate that people get addicted to various things, such as drugs and alcohol. They end up not being able to do much unless they have their "fix". I don't know what the answer would be for that poor fellow you saw. Too many people are facing hardships of all sorts, at this time.

  2. Damn. You don't ask any easy questions, do you?

    For some reason, this made me think of Thelonius Monk. That man's brain was wired in a very different way. But he was able to accomplish great things.

    Then I thought about war vets returning with PTSD and not getting any help.

    I think the answer to your question is that dogs are loyal and give people what looks like unconditional love, while people cause all sorts of god-damned problems.

    As for when - probably back when we lived in caves.

    Lo siento,
    JzB the no good answers trombonist

  3. The stats on homeless veterans vary from 100,000 to 300,000 on any given night.

  4. Knowing a lot of silly information is not worth a damn.
    When Spain held western south america they sent a galleon usually annually to Manila in the Philippines to buy Chinese products with the silver that the Chinese demanded for tea, porcelain and silk.

    The galleon would come to the west coast of Mexico because of the wind pattern. It dropped cargo in Mexico for forwarding to Europe. Then it would sail down to south america, reprovision and head out again.

    The Spanish were regarded as good feeders and payers for ships by sailors.

    One galleon was not properly provisioned. The captain died and his wife took over command. She kept her two or three dogs well as the ship's crew died of starvation.

  5. Now that's not fair, anonymous, since the dead sailers served as great sources of dog food for the dogs ;).

    - Badtux the Disgusting Penguin

  6. But we know why.

    Since the Raygun Revolution we have allowed our social net to be eviscerated by greedy gangsters and needy people turned into undeserving wretches who just won't pull themselves up by their . . . .

    It's a disgrace and we are paying for this daily now.

    Thanks for your sensitivity.


    Yet he has been relegated to this nightmarish world of begging for alms on the side of the road and sleeping under bushes because... why?

  7. We've always valued dogs over humans. The SPCA came into existence well before we started worrying about the physical, uh, chastisement of starveling waifs. I thought you knew that. Much of the early efforts to prevent cruelty to children was based on the SPCA's efforts re: dogs. It's worse in America, I can confidently say, having just returned from one of them there "socialist" countries where the government believes that keeping people fed and housed is not less important than keeping revenue and income flowing to all who can contrive such flow. Once the catchy little slogan of "needy not greedy" sank into the public consciousness, such as it is, we were doomed to viewing all such as your epiphanist of today in the light of that inappropriate framework.

  8. Not to put words in BT's mouth but I think his point is that it's not the alcohol or drugs that's the major problem. It's that is what is available for (self)treatment. Because for the most part that's all there is, self treatment.
    The part that many don't see or get is that this is a lot easier place to get to than they realize.
    If you don't have much in your life or your view of life becomes twisted covering that pain with some substance is easy. Easier than changing your life anyway. Or easier than fitting in. And once you get to a certain point coming back is extremely difficult. And can not be done without help. Over the last few decades we have cut public help for those that need it most. And for these folks there are almost no other alternatives than public help. Well other than prayer, which seems to be oh whats the word, less than effective.
    We do treat our pets better than ourselves. We pay for spay/neutering, shots, we have humane societies that place pets of all sorts, and yes when we can not provide for them in a humane manner we euthanize them. Not suggesting the last for humans but that care till then can and usually is much better than what we do.


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