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Stories from My Life

Stories from My Life: Saturday Mornings at the Methadone Clinic

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.

Stories from My Life: The Eulogy

They say that everything happens for a reason, that it’s the journey that makes the trip, that life is like a Highway or something along those lines. Believe me I’ll be the first one to call this out as cliché horseshit, but hear me out.

I was working a security gig at a hotel when I realized that this sentiment had some backing to it.

I’ve always had dreams of going on the great American Road trip with awesome people or just alone.

I’d play nothing but “The Eagles” and “The Grateful Dead” as I put the miles behind me. It would be like the movies; a coming of age story where a boy finds out the meaning of everything and discovers who he is.

I’d see the country up front and personal. I’d meet strange and fascinating folks and come to the realization that we’re all kind of the same.

At least that’s how I’ve always imagined it, but life usually happens regardless of your planning to live.

It was around 12am as I sat at my post on the 3rd floor of this hotel. I’ve had a lot of random jobs in the past and this was just another to add to the collection; nothing special.

I’m not really sure how everything lead up to that point and if you told me I’d be sitting there a year prior I probably would have had a nervous breakdown.

In my naive mind, for some reason or another, I thought I’d be somebody by then. I would have millions of dollars and be living in the Hollywood Hills with a beautiful girl by my side, you know, because I worked so hard for it. In case you didn’t get that, I was being sarcastic.

Anyways, here I was having a lovely evening of isolation. It was pin-drop quiet whereas I could hear my heart beating and the blood pulsing through my veins.

I was alive.

There was a a class of middle school kids staying on that floor and I was to make sure everyone stayed in bed and didn’t try to pull a fast one.

Yes, it was quite the task. Honestly, I would have rather been dumpster diving in hell.

We had a night auditor who lost her trail mix one night and decided to give that a try but that’s a story for another time lol.

The room I was posted at was the only room that wasn’t occupied by the school group. I later came to know the occupant fairly well. His name was Mike, just like his father. He was just staying the night and was in tough shape.

I found out he was in town for his fathers funeral. He hadn’t seen him in years and he was having a really hard-time writing his eulogy that was to be read at 10am that morning.

He got down on the ground and just started crying his eyes out. He told me about what a good guy his father was and how everyone always respected his old man. He told me about the barbecues and how his dad “lived like a thousand miles per hour” (He lived for the party).

He was so upset that he throw an alarm clock into the wall of his hotel room (he later went to the 24 hour Walmart, bought some plaster and paint, and I helped him fix it).

I had my computer with me and I offered to help him write the eulogy, I didn’t really think about it I just offered. I thought it was the right thing to do.

As we both sat there in the hallway, he lit a cigarette and offered me one. I don’t normally smoke but It just seemed right. It was a strange scene that not even Pablo Picasso could have painted.

It was surreal, and I felt that it was supposed to happen. 

Mike told me that his Father was a strong believer in the fact that all things happen for a reason and he was sure this was the work of his dad. I’d like to believe that’s true.

It took me four hours to help him write that eulogy but by 4am it was done.

I’ll never forget it.

Here’s the Eulogy I wrote that late September night:

My Fathers Eulogy (Mike Ryan)

My name is Michael Ryan and we are gathered here today to say goodbye to my father, Mike. I was very close with my father. He was the man! He always looked out for his kids and always had our best interest at heart. Whether we were camping out on scusset beach, skiing in Killington, VT, vacationing at Kerwin’s house In NH, in Daytona for bike week or down at Disney world, he always made sure his family had a goodtime.

If you knew my father, you would know that he lived for the party! He was the life of the party! He was literally the biggest party animal I’ve ever known in my life. Whether at work or at home he knew how to bring life into lifeless situations or circumstances, my father loved to laugh. It didn’t matter who you were or where you were, he could get you to enjoy yourself; even at a funeral. He could bring out the best in people.

Our summer day trips were the best. He would say Mr. Mike “we’re gonna go fishing today”. I would get excited and grab the canoe. We usually went to the north river in Pembroke, Ma and would go as far as we could till the tide changed. My father would talk about life well throwing back a Bud Weisser.

I cherish those times I spent on the water alone with my dad. It’s funny, I never remember catching a fish, not once. I was always the designated paddler on our way back, but it didn’t matter. We were having fun and we were together.

He had this way of showing you things. I never really got it back then but I get it now. He would guide you to an answer, he wouldn’t make it easy. I remember one time when we were at my Mother’s house (a house my father built from the ground up), we were working on some crown molding. I noticed that there was a quarter inch gap at one corner where the crown molding meets. I said to my father “Pop, what’s up with that gap in the corner?”. He just said “I can’t see it from my house”. I would always get mad and say he was a “has been” when things like this would happen. He never reacted; he was calm and cool and just pretended everything was fine.

He would always play things off like he didn’t know what I was talking about even though he did. If I couldn’t fix something he would step in, but for the most part he would let me figure it out for myself. He was good like that. Later in life I realize this was just his way of making sure I took pride in my work; never leaving anything overlooked.

My Dad wasted no time with putting me to work. He said “you’re working with me this summer on the construction site.” and that was that. I worked alongside him all of that summer. It was 1995 and I was 15.

This was my first job ever. I can’t tell you how much I learned with my old man that summer. He taught me how to be responsible, how to solve complex problems, how to be a leader, how to have a good work ethic, and most importantly how much fun it is to load 160 sheets of drywall to the second floor with Cousin Dennis.

He gave me that sense of accomplishment that many never achieve. I worked harder than I ever had before, but I wouldn’t give up that experience for the world. I can’t tell you how gratifying it was.

Another thing my father taught me was to always have respect. Not just for yourself but for others. My father treated everyone with respect and dignity; both on the site and off. I remember his cookouts every Friday at noon; legit every Friday hamburgers, hot dogs, and beer.

I could talk forever about my dad. I could tell you about all the Bruins games and the Pats games he took me to. I could tell you about the time we slept with two Harley Davison’s! It’s not what you think I promise.

I could tell you about how my Father loved Elvis. He wouldn’t let us kids touch the radio Sunday mornings. That was the Kings time! He was there for me at my confirmation, throughout my high school career, and even got me into the union when I was 18. I can most definitely say that I would not be the man I am today if was not for my father.

Although my dad spent the last years of his life in Florida, he kept in contact with all of his kids. He loved his kids. It didn’t matter what was going on. Nothing ever got in the way of that love! We spoke to one another frequently. He lived life like a thousand miles an hour! One hundred percent or nothing! All in!

My father made the best of things and I loved him.

Written September 30th, 2016 on Floor 3 by Security Officer Prentiss

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