So my friend Randy (not his name), a long time friend of one of my kids, and mostly one of my adopted kids. Randy’s illness at 16 sent his life on a different path, and so he does not function like most folk. He can also end up sending out a vibe that riles people like police officers and bus drivers, so he ends up in the hospital or in another institution.
And he’s always looking impatiently for change, periodically trying to move to a different city, or – as this time – getting married. Really the ‘geographic cure’ that 12 step programs warns against.
He knows he can call and I’ll usually be good for a $20 or $40. (This has been going on for over 20 years.) Now, his rash action has caused his benefits to be cut off, and he’s in dire straits. And my compassion is harder to muster.
I have found that most folk will solve their own problems to their own satisfaction if encouraged and then let alone to do it. So it went today with Randy, evidently. He had no money and nothing last night to eat, just had a tea bag in his apartment (and he hadn’t had an apartment a few days before). I gave him the phone number of a food pantry near him.
He called this morning because he got the number wrong. I called him back to find out where I could meet him to give him some cash and he didn’t answer. When I got home, he had left 20 messages on my landline – and had found enough resources to be downtown heading toward the library. The food pantry hadn’t helped him, because they needed more info. (Which is, as I point out to folk, how we pay for free money [whether we’re developers with projects or folk on their last leg] – with mild hassles and lots of questions and forms.) But somehow he had gotten through the day.
I didn’t really want to hear the same dreary story of how he had made that happen. I drove down to the library and gave him $40 and a bag of stuff – bread, toilet paper, a tooth brush and toothpaste I had just gotten from the dentist during my afternoon visit.
I’m wondering / half-expecting that he’ll sense my boredom and frustration and find someone else to be handy when he creates his next crisis. If not, I’m expecting my decision and helpfulness may not be so forthcoming.