Friday, March 13, 2009

A Tale of Two People

I just learned from James about Stu. I knew of Stu, since Stu was like an Otis of sorts. Otis from The Andy Griffith Show. Stu was a guy in his mid to late fourties, who looked like he was well over fifty, but was one who allegedly liked to drink as he waltzed down the sidewalk.
I saw Stu, but the one time that I approached him, he was belligerent. I eventually saw Stu collapse at the corner of Ridge and Chase about eight months ago. An ambulance and police had to lift him up from the pavement. Stu tried to avoid going with the paramedics. Perhaps, it was a pride sort of thing. Stu had a drinking problem; I can only speculate why. I was just told that Stu died two weeks ago, allegedly from cirrhosis of the liver. I cannot confirm the diagnosis. It was told to me, third hand.

I have another acquaintance, who is currently more sociable from the burbs. I don't know that he drinks much. I really don't take issue with his orientation, if different, nor care. Some other long time acquaintances sounded the alarm on that poor guy, as well. I delved. What I found surprised me. Apparently, someone loaned him money. When he momentarily took a sabbatical from Facebook, loose nerves developed. I did some research. In a nutshell, the guy seems nearly unemployable; I hope not. His only hope may be that someone who he knows from the past is willing to trust him. We don't need another Stu.

For those who read the Chicago Red Eye earlier this week, convictions hurt; particularly those that involve fraud. Those with convictions are often un-employable. They are also poor risks to banks. This guy who I went to grammar school with had a record that would make anyone who knew him drop their jaw.

The Cook County Court history seemed extensive and suggested a pattern unless his name is common. First, business and personal debts turned into lawsuits. Then, there was forceable eviction and detainer. Eventually a slew of bounced checks and intentional check writing on bad accounts. The criminal convictions lasted and built a bad track record. Of course, there was jail time, some rehab, but now he is borrowing money from a new group of people he used to know, some who may still respect him. However, he has to break the pattern, not us.

Now, back to RP, I heard that Stu had lived in our neighborhood for about 14 to 16 years. I heard that he was also evicted from an apartment on our block. Perhaps, Stu may have also done time for a few of those acts of desperation, but maybe not. Of course, when he had challenges with work, he just turned inward and could not undo the damage, so his liver was stewed prunes at autopsy.

I am critical of those who drink while walking down the sidewalk. I mean, if they cannot wait until they get home to imbibe malt liquor in private, then they may have gone beyond reviving without the 'twelve step,' among other options in de-tox.

There is good public policy in discouraging people from opening and downing the OE from within the glass bottle. Why does the city ignore our public alcoholics, when they beg for attention? Is public drinking a cry to get negative attention? Why do we pretend that this is acceptable conduct, find amusement, anger at it, or ignore it? How should a community approach public alcoholics? How should we approach those who lost their way? Should we ignore them or approach them with our eyes wide open but with care?

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