I called a meeting of the heroin dealers of Hartford at the pavilion in Pope Park. I had no authority to call the meeting since I am neither a heroin dealer nor affiliated with anyone who is. I just felt like things had hit a critical point where something had to be said. I admit I was disappointed when no dealers showed. True about forty men and a smattering of women did come. They were of various races and tended to dress similarly, hoodies and flat brimmed baseball hats. But they all assured me they had nothing to do with dealing drugs. They were opposed to it. They just came out because they were interested in why I thought there was so much heroin dealing going on in their city.
What are you serious? I said. Look around. Just look at the ground. See all those ripped bags in the grass. Pick them up, look at them. Kong, Amazing, Predator. Howl. Those are what the dealers package their heroin in. (I’ll be talking more about those in a minute.) And look over there, there’s a syringe not 100 feet from the baseball field. Do you know I have found over fifty syringes in the parks and parking lots of this city. Look up at Park Street, see those dudes with pale skin and gaunt eyes and backpacks walking up to Frog Hollow and that bearded guy walking with the girl– they are going there to buy heroin, and then they will come back here to the park. Like that guy up there on the bench — the dude who looks like he is about to fall over. He just snorted some heroin and he is now on the nod. See that ambulance going by, lights and sirens. They are going to the laundromat where the fire department is going to have to break down the restroom door again because there is a kid in there turning all purple and stiff from hypoxia caused by the evil drug he just injected into his abscessed arm. They’ll get there in time to save him, but only because one of the ladies doing laundry, drank too much coffee and had to pee and was upset because the guy who went into the bathroom, stayed in there never came out. There’s another ambulance right now headed to a house in the suburbs — in Avon — where the reaper has already and come and taken a beautiful but troubled young woman away. She never came in to Hartford herself, but a guy she knew did, and he sold her what he bought here at a jacked up price. $5 a bag here, $10 in Avon. Her Dad is doing CPR on her right now even though he knows she’s gone. This can’t be allowed to go on.
They nodded a little and said they had heard of such things, but what was I intending to do about it? And again, they were not dealers themselves, but people were after all, coming in to buy product of their own free will. The dealers were not exactly giving a hard sell, or so they had heard. And why was I upset with the drug dealers and not the liquor store owners or the gun shops or the insurance companies who declined people’s medical tests until their cancer was already to advanced to cure or the bankers who gave people loans with confusing terms that they knew they did not understand or could ever pay back? And what about the pharmaceutical companies who have made billions pushing their drugs without seeing a day in jail or doing one perp walk?
I have nothing to say to any of that I said. There is a lot wrong with the world. I’m just trying to deal with this small part of it.
So what’s your message vis a vis the drug dealing? And are still on that Hello Kitty rant you were on last week.
“Hello Kitty? You read my blog?”
We like to stay up on what’s happening in Hartford, and we will give you credit on that one. We found a guy who knew a guy who knew Rafael who was selling Hello Kitty, and once they talked, he said he wanted to apologize. He had intended to stamp his bags with Dr. Death, but his chihuahua chewed the stamp up too bad to use, so in a panic, he used his daughter’s Hello Kitty stamp, and it hadn’t occurred to him that some user would leave a half full bag in a playground port-o-potty. He recognized his error, and said he would be more careful.
“Someone read my blog,” I said again.
Yeah, don’t get so full of yourself. We are busy people, we have to get back to our corners, we mean, our jobs. What’s on the agenda?
Okay, I said, thanks for keeping me on track. I get excited and I wander. Here’s the deal. I have some stamp bags here I had made up. I know the dealers all have their own brands, and they can still have their brands on the back side or they can use what I have put on there as their new brand. Let me pass these out. We can work together on this. These stamps have important messages that will help keep the dealers customers — brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, friends and fellow souls — alive. Is that too much to ask? We are all just people here. Let’s help our fellow man. Here takes these.
They took the bags I offered and some even put in orders for more. Whether they will take the bags and give them to heroin dealers who their cousins may know or whether they use them themselves to store salt, pepper, and other spices, I don’t know. Maybe one bag will find its way to someone in need and be the message that finally gets through. We’ll see if it helps — if it makes any difference. I am running out of ideas.
The meeting broke up with a vague thought that we might have another meeting in the future. They thanked me for being a paramedic. One gentleman even said he remembered me from the time he got shot for doing nothing but being in the wrong place. Another said I had taken care of his mother when she had a heart attack. A couple had questions about how narcan worked.
I wished I could have talked to the dealers directly, but I left feeling like maybe I had made a difference.
Back at work, I hear another crew send out for a possible heroin OD. They clear a half hour later with a presumption.
It’s a long road. No end in sight.