Code 3 for man down.
Our drunk regular is on the lawn within a strip mall parking lot. A bystander, presumably one of the business owners, is standing next to him, despite the smell, which is actually pretty bad, even for me.
“He took his sock off and had gangrene on his foot.”
The regular is putting his sock back on, and isn’t in the mood to take it off to show me. I don’t doubt for a second that he has gangrene or some other problematic issue. In fact, I think I have seen something like that before on his foot.
“Can’t you guys take him away and keep him in the hospital? I mean, he’s always here.”
For some reason that I can’t remember, I actually am in the mood to chat a little with her.
“I know he’s always here; we see him all the time, just like you do. We can take him to the hospital every single time but once he sobers up, he leaves the hospital. Free will.”
“But how do you get his foot fixed?”
“Well, health care is cooperative. If he doesn’t want to do anything about it, there really isn’t a whole lot anyone can do about it. And he’s not known to be much of a problem to the public. He rarely bothers anyone out here. He doesn’t hit anyone. He’s quiet. It’s sad, and ideally we’d take care of everyone’s problems and get them all the help they need, but that’s just not how it goes. If they don’t help us help them, it doesn’t really work out all that well. That’s the reality of life.”
“But does he even understand what’s going on?”
“He does. A lot of these guys do. And they choose to live like this. He just wants to drink and be left alone, just like other folks want to do drugs all day long. Not everyone chooses to live his or her life the way you and I choose.”
A cop shows up; he recognizes the regular as well.
“There he is; he just left the hospital.”
“There you have it.”