Friday, January 4, 2008

Some Friday Thoughts

I'm a bit pressed for time, so today's entry will be what would have been two too-short entries cobbled together.

Yesterday, while reading my local newspaper online, I saw a story about how a homeless man who pushes an overloaded grocery cart all around town had been hit by a car, late the night before. Though he has broken bones and severe internal injuries, he is expected to survive.

When I read the story, I knew who the man was immediately. While out driving, I've encountered him pushing his cart numerous times, usually smack in the middle of the road. I'm surprised that he'd not been hit by a car before now.

One night, while driving in heavy rain, I nearly ran him over myself. I'd just driven over a hill and was headed back down into a flat part of the road in a part of the street where the darkness was not touched by streetlights. Though it was well past midnight, he was out in the middle of the road, pushing that overloaded cart uphill in the pouring rain. It was the last place you'd expect to encounter a pedestrian. Fortunately, I was able to swerve and avoid him.

After I passed him, I stopped to call the police. During my time on the force, we often arrested people like this for "disorderly conduct", simply as a means to give such people a warm and dry shelter out of the rain, and to save them from their own recklessness. When I got the dispatcher on the line, I suggested that she send a car down for this very purpose and she promised to do so.

I don't know what this man's particular history is, but he's a living symbol of the failure of our mental health system.

The other night my son came to me, wanting my advice. Now that he has a steady girlfriend, he wanted to pick my brains about what I thought the best birth control would be for them. He doesn't want to become a father before he's ready, but he finds regular condom use to be disagreeable, like most men do. He came to me, figuring if anyone would know about such matters, it would be me.

As his girlfriend is rather young, I suggested the pill, as they don't care for the idea of an implant, either.

Whatever they choose, I'm glad they're being responsible and not leaving it up to chance.

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