Saturday, February 25, 2012

Culture war extends to plumbing, psycho-social drama

Picture this.

The lady is an out-of-towner, a native of a huge metropolis from the eastern seaboard.

Has a lot of alphabet soup behind her name, has earned multiple degrees in social work, psychology, behavioral sciences – does forensic work for the Courts, makes jailhouse evaluations in cases of substance abuse, child abuse, manufacturing and sales of controlled substances, possession of narcotics, bail, probation and parole revocations.

She's a long way from home, living in this community of evangelical christendom, a long way from school, temple, the community of law givers, interpreters of the faith.

She wears sensible shoes, smokes constantly, sometimes lighting one cigarette off the butt of another, and the following adjectives would be accurate descriptors of her affect – hyperaware, hypervigilant, quick to take flight, passive aggressive, manipulative.

She has a lot of power and knows how to use it.

She's active in liberal party politics, hob nobs with professionals from the legal, academic, corrections, and law enforcement communities. Together, they make plans, look into the future, plot strategies and routes to a safer, saner, more – ah – sanitary world in which to – oh, well, you know – shape the way people think - react - get along with each other.

She works out of town at various lockups in neighboring county seats.

She got a call at work the other day.

Seems her apartment in Waco was flooding, some kind of problem with the plumbing.

The on-site manager needed her to drop what she was doing and come stand by while the plumbers and the owner made various adjustments.

She rushed through the hour's drive, pushed her subcompact to its limits, compressed the journey to 45 minutes, came upon the scene to find raw sewage running out her front door, soaking into the carpets, exuding an odor of an utterly sick-making and vile character to the ambient atmosphere.

She's an alcoholic – recovering - goes to meetings, talks about her business in front of bewildered people who have felt the first nips of the wringer, others who have been caught in the dragnet, felt the inexorable pressure of the vice as they slowly accepted the truth, that they were doing life on the installment plan, and then watched the state take away their children, their privileges, declare them incompetent – insane.

They are caught, beat, busted, addicted to something they hardly understand, and, the truth is, they never really wanted anything other than some relief.

The apartment manager met her at the door, filled with sympathy, her tone caring, loving, solicitous.

Thrusting a full glass of whiskey on the rocks at her, she said, “Here, dear, I'm sure you're going to need this,” as she launched into a narrative about having the restoration company out right away to take everything out of the apartment, rip out the carpets and do a thorough cleaning with bleach to disinfect everything - right away.

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