Down and out in downtown

Last week, I saw a man at the convenience store plop on the counter a two-liter Mountain Dew, bag of Cheetos and handful of Slim Jims.

This wasn’t a snack.

This was lunch for a family of five.

Despair is ruthless.

It takes money from the pocket, clothes from the back and food from the table.

Before long, you’re out on the street, sleeping on the sidewalk with a building for a windbreak and newspaper for a blanket.

How does it happen, this precipitous exit from the mainstream?

Sometimes, the dealer just hands you crappy cards.

You fall off a roof fixing the gutter or are maimed in a car accident, leading to a lifelong disability that hinders sustainability.

More often than not, however, addiction is to blame.

Too much booze or too many pills afford you multiple stints to jail and rehab, draining you of resources and your family of hope.

The bottom of the barrel is a lonely place. But it’s easier to get there than you think.

 

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