On our way to work (Ken and I both work in downtown Vancouver so we carpool) we travel through one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Canada - the downtown east side. Today, in the span of about 30 seconds, I saw about 5 people shooting up and a man in a very nice car (with a baby carseat in the back) picking up one of the many desperate hookers on the street. It is quite sad really, I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach every time we drive through that area of town. The women who are working the streets are more often than not hooked on drugs and are working to keep up the drug habit. Drug use is rampant and out in the open - you can watch from your car at a red light a number of drug deals going down (depending on what intersection you are at).
Tonight on the way home, we were SECONDS from hitting someone. A woman who was obviously strung out stepped into traffic, and it was almost all in slow motion -I could see it coming - she was teetering on the edge of the curb just as we drove by, and she was hit by a car that had tried to avoid her at the last second. It wasn't clear if she hit the car or the car hit her, she just fell over, and then got up and continued to weave through traffic (6 lanes in total). She didn't even appear to be hurt. It amazes me that anyone could make it clear across in a clear state of mind, never mind totally strung out on drugs.
I have often wondered how someone winds up there. I can't imagine anyone wishing to live that kind of life. I am sure that there are many people with mental illness just trying to get by hour by hour, and those that felt there was no other option than being on the street (I can't even begin to think what kind of life some must have experienced to get to that point).
I am thankful that I have not fallen prey to the addiction of drugs. When I was in high school, the hardest stuff I ever saw was pot, and now with the rampant use of meth I get scared for my kids and hope that they never find themselves in a situation where they are going to get hooked. I wonder what kind of world it will be when my boys are teenagers and it scares the shit out of me.