I’m not sure what’s worse, getting up at 5am or working at a methadone clinic?
Lucky me I get to do both.
That’s right, I’m the Saturday Morning Security Officer at the clinic down the street. It just might be a new low, and I’ve had some pretty terrible jobs.
My Saturday starts off as I walk out the door half awake and half disgusted. I follow the canal down to Wareham before the sun comes up. The roads are still wet from the rain we had last night and the air is salter than the rim of a margarita glass . It’s warm but heavy.
It’s always deary here in the boondocks of south/eastern Mass and I’ve always associated the place with this mellow sad kind of feeling that doesn’t seem to change with the season.
Today I arrived to work around 5:40am which was a little early for me but I wanted to get in before the crowds started to gather outside the main entrance.
I wasn’t early enough apparently because there were already at least a dozen cigarette smoking, old sweatshirt wearing Werther’s originals blocking my way inside. One of the guys spits on the ground and just misses my shoe and laughs “Sorry Officer I just though your shoe could use some shinning” he smiles and his top denture plate falls out. I knock on the window and the nurse lets me in.
The lobby smelled like feet, marijuana, and gum disease.
When I tell you that this is a bizarre group of people that’s understatement. I’ve seen everyone from pink haired old ladies in leather to some guy who exclusively wears a dirty brown worn-out trench coat and a cowboy hat. I once saw a patient using his golf wedge cane to hit someone over the back of the head in a parking lot brawl.
If I had to describe the majority of the people I’ve seen in one sentence, It would be that they are lost, confused and most of the time just looking for someone to listen to them. There personal stories are just as unique as the character.
I purposely made mental notes to remember some of the wild conversations I heard well on duty.
It was a big dysfunctional family reunion and I later came to understand that this was therapy in a way for most of the folks. I’d hear things like “Heey, what’s up Jimmy?” In-response, “Not much boss, just got out. I can’t remember the last time I had a summer where I wasn’t in the big-house”. One day a regular came in with crutches, his foot in a cast, and both knees wrapped. Someone in line asked him what happened and he simply said “I got stabbed 14 times and shot in both kneecaps over the weekend” the guy in line says “Well at least you had time to grab some coffee you son of a bitch”.
I thought to myself, at some point you’ve got to ask yourself what am I doing with my life? When is it time to slow down?
Out of all the shit I’ve seen and heard at this place, the worst by far was when patients brought their children in. Call me old fashion but there’s something seriously wrong with the image of children crawling on the ground at a Methadone Clinic. That’s just me, but you’ve got to remember, I’m the one who’s seen people spit blood on these very floors.
I wish I was making this stuff up but it’s unfortunately the truth, these are the stories of my life, and although not very glamorous they’ve taught me a lot.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that in order to be happy you have to be grateful for what you have, and sometimes what you don’t have.
On my very last Saturday shift I swear to God, I almost had to escort two nurses out of the building because they got into a heated argument over a movie reference from “Groundhog Day”. The patients in line were cheering them on, “Fight, Fight, Fight!!!”.
I’m grateful to never have to step foot in that place again.