Wednesday, October 15, 2008

hooked in the leg: Poverty in Austin

a friend and i were on our way to go fishing some time ago and as we're carrying our poles and gear toward the lake, i hear him say "oh. crap." i turn around and there's a large lure with two treble-hooks near his leg. turns out, one of the treble hooks was stuck in his leg. there followed a few hours of various possible solutions -
  • cut the hook? where? do we have any wire-cutter pliers? i didn't bring my tools. shit.
  • maybe we can detach the hook itself from the lure. that'd help. can you get your fingers between the lure and the hook?
  • why'd i do that? why did i leave that lure on the rod? why didn't i put it in the tackle box?
  • i need a beer. we bought beer, right?
  • oh, shit. i shouldn't chugged that beer. i'm light-headed now. i may throw up.
  • does anybody around here have any wire-cutters? hey - let's ask that guy.
  • that guy doesn't have any. what about the guy up the hill?
  • (there was a guy, with a g.p.s., and a phone that can do this cool little find-businesses feature, and we spent 20 minutes while this guy tried to find the little local 24-hour-minor-emergency clinic, and he couldn't figure it out, and it was his own phone.)
  • i guess let's drive back to town to the hospital. which one? which way?
  • the guy with the g.p.s. said it's over to the right in town. (it wasn't.)
  • wait, you figured out how to detach it from the lure? cool. now what?
  • does it hurt?
we drove to town, went to the little local 24-hour-minor-emergency clinic. it took an hour for them to get what was left of the hook out of his leg, and give him a tetanus shot, and bandage him up.
at that point, what should we do? screw it. let's just go eat.

based on what i know from listening to my homeless brothers and sisters, and my students when i taught college english classes years ago, and the people who slump into my office at journey's warehouse and look like they've been beaten up, and my own brokenness and feeling of lostness, i think that poverty must feel like having the hook stuck in your leg.

what i did for my friend, as i recall, was to stand with him, and listen, and not jostle stuff, and drive him to the clinic, and carry his stuff, and not say anything about what happened, and eat supper with him, and keep asking "how's the leg?" and ask people for wire-cutter pliers. he and the hook had their own relationship; i was just there to be a friend, and to help as i was able, and to bear witness. it all turned out okay; we found resources; his arm hurt for a while because of the tetanus shot but it was worth it.
and even - or maybe especially - if it hadn't turned out okay, i'd still have been needed as a friend, to help as i was able, and to bear witness.


Anonymous said...

Oh no! Don't you think you missed a great opportunity to lecture your friend on how, if he had been more careful, smarter, more educated, more mature... a better person... the whole situation could have been avoided? Don't you think he would have learned a lot more if you had made him earn your help in some way, so he could keep his self-respect and work ethic? I think you have a lot to learn about social work. Or not...

Rick Diamond said...

you're right - what was i thinking? just love someone when they're in a tight situation? i should've shamed him, or at least, distanced myself from him, since it was obviously some character defect in him that caused him to be in this lowly state.
i'll work on it.
or not.

Real Live Preacher said...

Note to self: Do not go fishing with Diamond.

nonprofitprophet said...

better the leg than a hook in the head... ;) ~npp

Raging Bear said...

Your friend must be an idiot…or you are. You should have told him the truth. Letting him go on thinking you just love him and that you were there to support him, is modeling a lie. Fishing is life...and your friend denied you that life. If you truly love your friend…tell him the truth. Who are you serving?



PS: Your friend asked me to tell you that his leg is feeling better and he forgives you.


Unknown said...

Wait a minute, they took out the hook, gave him a shot and a bandage and sent him on his way?!?!?!?!

Where was the MRI? What specialist in ichthian ensnarement device removal was called? Where was the plastic surgeon, the orthopedic surgeon, the lengthy hospital admission and labyrinthine forms and bills? Why this smacks of malpractice..... Or common sense.