I walked through Main and East Hastings today. It’s pretty bad down there. Shells of humans wasting away life, huddled together in alleys making quick trades of hidden merchandise, attempting to sell or trade handfuls of items they’ve collected from various sources trying to make just enough to get their next shot in an elusive vein. Scabby bodies in clothes that probably used to fit, but now hang on animated skeletons that shuffle seemingly aimless down the sidewalk. The eyes peer out from hollow sockets but don’t appear to focus on anything. They look as if they stay upright and ambulate forward solely on muscle memory.
The sun was out, it was warm, but these few blocks are dark and cold. It smells of despair and desperation. Some here twitch, scratch at their legs, and appear to be just on the calm side of panic. Others are empty vessels – lifeless and slumped in a heap between the sidewalk and the building.
The one thing that stood out to me was the police presence.
In these few blocks I saw 3 cop cars and at least 7 police walking around. The walking police were mingling with the citizens. They were talking with them, checking in on them, and basically serving and protecting those that appear to have lost the will or ability to serve and protect themselves.
As I walked down the sidewalk there was a policeman having a conversation with someone who can only accurately be described as a real life ghoul – gray and gaunt. They appeared to know each other and exchanged pleasantries. The ghoul seemed happy to see the policeman and continued smiling his tooth thin grin as he shuffled on his way.
As I got closer, the policeman directed his attention to a guy face down on the sidewalk. I saw the policeman walk over, rouse him from the netherworld of incoherence, and give him a quick health check.
“Hey guy! Guy! Hello! Hi. How are you doing today? Are you feeling ok? Can I get you to look at me? Great. Are you sure you’re ok? Do you need anything?”
Once the policeman was sure this guy didn’t need immediate medical attention and wasn’t going to expire right then and there, he continued his rounds.
I’ve seen and heard police harassing people like these. Pat them down, throw them in the car, run their name, lock them up and force them to clean up for a week or a month. This creates a divide between those that need help and those that can provide it. I don’t know if that is the best solution.
I liked that the police seemed to watch over the residents in this comfortless part of town. Serving these citizens in probably the only way they can. Protecting them as much as possible as they continue dying.
It would be nice to have a cure to all this though.