Thursday, November 1, 2012

The "Drug Dealer" Next Door

Sometimes, kindnesses come when and where you least expect them.  On the other hand, people from whom you expect to see charity can disappoint.  Thus is the human condition.  As I reflect on this, it reminds me of something that happened many years ago when my oldest daughter, who is now 24, was just a little baby.

As I have previously mentioned, during those years, we lived in a working-class neighborhood in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Our neighbors included a mailman, a secretary, two grocery store butchers, a lady who provided home day care, a retired couple, and some unemployed people.  Our street also was home to two purported drug dealers and an undercover narcotics cop.  At least he said he was an undercover narcotics cop.  There was really no way to verify his story.

Anyway, one of the purported drug dealers lived right next door to us, with his wife and little girl.  He was a bit scary-looking.  Sturdily built. Long, wild hair. A bit of a crazed look in his eye.  And he never seemed to actually go to work.  He and his wife would give these insane parties during warm weather, which lasted from sundown on Thursdays to sundown on Sundays.  There would be loud music, drinking, and smoking of various things.  He and said wife would also have these knock-down, drag-outs in the middle of the night on the weekends when they weren't throwing parties.  Never a dull moment, you might say.

Anyway, my 25-year-old self was pretty terrified of this guy.  And everyone in the neighborhood said he was a drug dealer, which added to my terror.

Well, one day I was packing the car with my baby's things, as I was preparing to take her to visit her grandma, who lived about 10 minutes away.  In and out of the house I was going with all of the stuff that babies can't live without -- even for a couple of hours.  In order to keep my daughter safe while I accomplished this task, I laid her in the playpen that was in the middle of my living room.  Alas -- on one of my many trips out the front door to the car -- I absent-mindedly closed said door.  Which happened to be locked.  So my baby was locked in the house.  No other windows or doors to the house were open or unlatched -- except for the bathroom window.  A VERY SMALL window about six feet off the ground, which was about two inches open.  It was the type of window that opened out from the top -- not the kind the slides back and forth.

I had to get my baby out of the house.  And I needed help.  And the only other person who was home that day in the entire neighborhood was -- drum roll -- the drug dealer next door.

With some trepidation, I made my way over to ask his assistance.  And he was so amiable.  He got his ladder and climbed up to my teeny, tiny bathroom window and managed to get it all the way open.  Then he wedged his not-so-small, muscular frame through this window and into the house.  Now the drug dealer was alone in the house with my baby, and I was not just a little bit frightened.  But, he merrily came right to the front door and opened it for me so that I could get my baby.  And he was just so very nice about the whole thing.  If he hadn't been there and if he hadn't helped me and if he hadn't been so good about it all, I don't know what I would have done.  Nobody had cell phones in those days, so I couldn't call anyone.  And, as I said, no one else who lived on the street was home that day.

This experience taught me a good lesson.  Though I don't care to hang out with drug dealers as a regular social thing, you never know who will come through for you when you need it.  Kindness can surprise you in the most delightfully unexpected ways.

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