Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thing 318 Chat with a Junkie

Obviously enough the photo contained here is not exactly in keeping with the theme of the blog. Once again I point to personal motivation as a reasonable excuse. One does not point a camera and click when you're sitting with a very unstable man...

I was wracking my brain trying to think of a Thing for the day. I'd come off a night shift the night before and I'd stayed in bed a little later than normal. It may have been mentioned before but I'm occassionally lazy. I decided to put my brain to work on the problem, and to have cup of tea while I did it. Down to Old Quarter for a sit down. I deserve it, after all, I have been in bed all day and done nothing of consequence. If that doesn't deserve tea...

He was about twenty or twenty one. Shaved head. Clearly extremely cagey. He walked in to the smoking area of the Old Quarter and asked me for a cigarette. I obliged. He went to say something and the staff drifted over to him. "Sorry mate, you can't stay in here if you're not a customer". He got aggressive quickly, and the situation didn't look like it was going to get fun any time soon. He turned to me and asked if he could sit down. I couldn't think of any reason to say no, so I told him no problem...

"Why are they trying to hunt me out" he said, his words slurred. He rubbed at his forehead which had a nasty fresh scar just over the eyebrow. His knuckles were raw looking too. Either he'd been fighting in the last few hours, or some wall had taken a desperate beating.

"I think it's because you're very drunk lad", I told him.

"I'm not drunk" he said, "I've only had a naggin' of vodka. I'm f***in' high though man. Like trippin' altogether kid".

I didn't know what to say, so I kind of laughed. The staff came back out. Asked him to move along. He told them he was sitting with his friend and they could flip off. He didn't say flip though. He was getting aggressive again, so I asked him to relax a bit.

"Sorry bud", he said, "I know I'm a bit out of hand. I just gave my girlfriend's new fella a hiding there, and I'm not long out of jail". For reasons completely unknown to me, this guy was totally relaxed when talking to me, and edgy as hell every time he looked at anyone else. We ordered him some tea and he leaned back in his chair, smoking his cigarette.

"I don't want to go back to jail at all" he said, to no one in particular. I told him he didn't have to. He nodded. I poured his milk for him, and by now I'm thinking this is one of the most surreal cups of tea I've ever drank. He struggled opening the seven packets of sugar he put in, so I gave him a hand, and stirred it too.

"Like Bob Marley said kid, stir it up..." and he smiled as he said it. Then he reached out and picked up the teapot and poured me a cuppa. He spilled it absolutely everywhere and spent about five minutes apologising.

We sat there, me and him, with the staff watching from about five feet away for a good ten to fifteen minutes. He talked, mostly incoherently, but sometimes about his family, his drug use, his drinking and his love of Bob Marley.

Then just as quick, he got up, took what was left of his tea. Shook my hand and wandered off down the street where a mate of his was waiting.

It was the most surreal experience I've had in a while. Kind of made me sit up and realise how soft I have it, and how many people are either left behind, or deliberately leave themselves behind. I laughed straight afterwards, but the more I think about it, the more it strikes a chord with me. Can't put my finger on it, but it's definitely staying in my head.


  1. that was really nice of you..

  2. The accidental things are often the most interesting, and more worthwhile.

  3. It's good. I learned something years ago when I had to drive into the middle of Dublin at three in the morning with an iron bar up my sleeve to rescue a junkie friend from a beating.

    It was this: junkies have no friends. You can't trust them.

    Of course that doesn't mean you can't offer them a cup of tea.

    Today, my friend is no longer a junkie, and I trust him again.