Sinners And Saviors

"I'm not asking you to play savior here. Just $500 to pay the electric bill and get my kids something to eat for a week." It was always going to turn out this way. Her path to impecunious single motherhood was unique in being spectacularly calamitous, but her fate -- to languish as a stereotype of southern Appalachian indigence -- was sealed from birth. That was my impression anyway. I tried to intercede, but the universe pushed back. Hard. As if the cosmos was righteously indignant that a mort

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12 thoughts on “Sinners And Saviors

    1. Apropos of nothing, I looked up his picture on Brandeis’s website. Right name, and age and face look right. I think I went to high school with him. Small world.

  1. I had a near miss with my daughter in 2018. Absolutely one of the most terrifying things I have ever experienced in my life.

    Thanks for, once again, writing about yet another dark truth of what it means to be human.

    A “10+”.

  2. What a tour-du-force piece of writing. Thank you.

    When addiction could still be labelled as being “An Inner-City problem” (read black problem) our right wingers saw it as a simple “law & order” issue.

    As nice white, southerners started to suffer, they pivoted to blaming Latin American cartels and eventually China as fentanyl took hold. (Methamphetimines cooked by nice white people in rural areas was harder to blame on foreigners until Mexican labs started flooding the US market with product.)

    It’s never the user’s responsibility. At one time GOP politicians touted self-responsibility but thanks to Trump nothing is ever your fault. No employment prospects? I’s not because you partied instead of learning marketable skills or can barely read instructions. Nope, it’s the damn liberals sending manufacturing jobs to Mexico and China! That’s a lot more palatable to them than increasing funding for drug treatment via Medicaid or job training programs. “Leave it to the private sector!”

    Thanks to those who tolerated my screed and read through it.

  3. This post was amazing. My college roommate was addicted to alcohol and had been since he was 16. He never stopped drinking and died of alcoholic dementia a year ago. I’ve had the feelings friends have.

    For over twenty-five years I served as a consultant to, and almost immediately a friend of, the executive director of a large substance abuse agency. This man was one of only a very few people I have considered to be my heroes (the rest were doctors who kept insisting on saving my life over the years. Over the time I served with this I saw his team save thousands of addicts ( and fail to help an equal or larger number; that’s what happens). What he and his team could do was the closest thing to real magic I’ve ever seen. At the end of our time together we co-founded a company to provide administrative services to a couple dozen agencies in our state to help them stretch their budgets and save more. My friend has retired and moved on now, but he is still my hero and what we did together was all pro bono for me. I didn’t know what more I could do. Oh, and btw, my friend was unsighted and the eldest of his three children was a profoundly disabled by the ravages of Down’s Syndrome. Sadly, his son passed away at 22, just after entering a group home. Other than to tobacco, I was never addicted to harmful substances, though in spite of having quit that dragon 22 years ago, I still suffer that addictions permanent effects.

    One more thing, as much as I understand the general view of the infinite value of human life, I don’t actually agree with it. For twenty years I earned enough money on the side to put my daughter through a very expensive liberal arts college by helping to prove in court just how much a life is worth in economic terms. It’s never all that much, especially for a child. I once had a client who was representing a woman whose youngest child had died horribly in a freak accident. She received an offer from the insurer of the man responsible for the death. Her lawyer thought the offer was too low so he asked me to prepare five options for a structured settlement I thought might increase her benefit in a similar range to the offer. So I did what I was asked. The insurance company actually approved my options so they let her pick. The one she picked involved total cash of twice the original offer but had a present value less than that proffered payout. Even so, that’s the one she took because it involved more money to be paid much later when her two other children would be ready for college. She said she could never get enough money to cushion the blow of her loss, but she knew if she got money right away it wouldn’t be there just when her other two kids were going to need it for their lives. This woman’s wisdom in the moment stunned me and I never forgot that day. There are lots of ways to think about the value of a person’s life. I personally saw a great variety over the 20 years I did this work. None was priceless.

  4. Great as always. I didn’t expect this to be part of your personal history. Makes me very curious how you eventually ended up on Wall Street.

    1. Who said I ended up on Wall Street? I never said that. I said I ended up in Manhattan. In “finance.” I never said anything about Wall Street. [Insert wink]

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