Just Say, “No.”

During our recent salvage project (Read “Seventy Feet Above the Ghetto”) we hired some local “contract labor” to help with taking down some telephone poles at a city ball field. The term “contract labor” might be a little misleading: When a group of tattooed men with their pants-on-the-ground showed up at our house to ask if we needed our trees trimmed, my sweetheart asked them how they felt about trees with no branches (i.e. telephone poles.) They came to an agreement on a price and he gave them directions to the ball field. They showed up with their equipment (a few, small off-brand chain saws), their vehicles (beat up old trucks with shiny spinning rims), and their entire families. The folks in this ghetto neighborhood had nothing on this crew. In fact, I think we upped the ante by bringing them there.

Apparently, when one gentleman’s “old lady” pulled up, she was being tailed by the police department, some Texas Rangers, and some US Marshals. There was a bit of confusion as they handcuffed her when none of the workers including her “old man” would admit that they knew her, but a rather stern Marshal threatened to check for warrants on everyone there and the truth came out.

After the dust had settled, the “5-0” had left, and everyone was getting ready to get back to work, one of the workers approached my sweetheart and my daughter. He explained that he was paranoid schizophrenic, and had trouble with drugs “in the past” but he had stayed out of trouble for “a long time” now – this turned out to be two whole months. The events of the day had inspired him to give my daughter some advice about staying out of trouble with the law.

Here are his words of wisdom.

“Don’t do drugs.”
He and his “old lady” told my daughter that they had caught their son, who is also fifteen years-old, smoking “something” recently, and had threatened to “tear off his arm and shove it up his ass.” That’s some tough love right there.

“Don’t do ‘spice’.”
This more specific advice had a story. He explained that the large, protruding scar on his leg was from an occasion when he had used this “totally legal” substance and had kicked through a hotel room window. According to his story it had taken between twenty-five and twenty-seven police officers to subdue him.

“Don’t do ‘bath salts’.”
Again, the specificity is important apparently. He recounted several recent news stories about people going crazy and cutting their own throats, jumping off buildings, eating people’s faces, or other general mayhem after using this drug.

To her credit, my daughter accepted these life lessons in the spirit in which they were intended, though she did ask me later what a teardrop tattoo under the eye really means. I really need to keep her away from our job sites.

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