November 22nd, 2008
A couple weeks ago, a fellow 22 bus rider saw I was missing half my right leg and chatted me up. How did it happen, how did it feel, did I have phantom pain, did I have pain, did I take anything for pain? Especially, did I take anything for pain. And if so, what?
The guy had a thrift-store presentability to him. Nothing wrong with that, but his I’m-just-being-conversational style had an intensity I didn’t like. Besides, I saw where he was going, so I said I wasn’t taking anything for pain these days (although I do from time to time take a couple Percoset).
“Do you ever take Percoset?”
“Never. Tylenol’s about it.”
“Because if you had some on hand, I’d be happy to make a purchase.”
I could have told him to station himself outside the VA — or any other hospital, for that matter — and make the pitch to just about anybody. Times are tough. I’ve heard of people selling these pills for $10 each.
But this guy looked to me more like a street drug user. Crack, heroin, meth. Now he wants to move up into classier stuff — Rush Limbaugh and Cindy McCain territory.
It’s not fair, is it? To him, I looked approachable. Unevenly mowed beard, worn jeans, sweatshirt, $8 haircut. The poor guy would have loved the license to go doctor shopping like the tens of million other pill addicts. But there’s no legitimate route for him. He can only look for likely souls on public transportation and hope they’re as desperate for money as he is for prescription drugs.
I still see him from time to time. Mostly he looks sick and uneasy. Usually, we share only the briefest, most noncommital look. But now and then he’s floating. Greets me with a nod and smile out of a Pixar movie, hums Beach Boy tunes under his breath, and wraps his skinny legs around each other like a happy schoolgirl. He has scored.
I’d like to know how. Some other bus rider? Burgled a purse? Bumped shoes with a wide-stance pharmacist in the men’s room?
I’m just curious about other people’s bad habits.