Enabling road kill: today’s 180

I don’t usually write in the Daily Prompt or various writing challenges as I prefer to write on topics I’ve mulled over a while first. But today’s got my attention: it asked bloggers to recall a time they did something they would not normally do, a time they did a 180, and I happened to do such a thing today.

I was standing in the line at the liquor store after work when I was overcome by the stench of two alcoholics ahead of me. One had an eye protruding, God it was hideous. He had dirty, leathery skin. He reminded me of road kill. I looked at his toes and I couldn’t tell whether it was strange masses of hair protruding from between his long claws or if it was just an accumulation of months of silt gathered into some form of new element.

He began counting out silver change on the counter next to a very poorly looking bottle of red. Everybody stared as the man desperately tried to count out the coins. His friend leant over and desperately tried to assist, as if the more they counted the the greater value the coins would become.

The lady at the counter very flatly said he didn’t have enough money to buy the bottle of wine and that he should leave. Us well-heeled and mostly high-heeled folk gave a conspiratorial tsk tsk noise and he grabbed his friend by the arm and muttered something about going.

I figured they’d head outside to beg for money, which surely no one would provide. Why enable a drug-addict to further drown in his own squalor? Get a job! Get cleaned up! Get out of here!

As I got closer to the counter I thought of how well some cigarettes would go down with my drinks. I’m technically living the non-smoker life, perhaps more of a delusion these days, and so I knew it was something I shouldn’t do, at least not on a Thursday. But I really wanted to be illogical, I wanted to just sit in my own personal squalor and let my addictions soothe my evening away and so I made my illicit purchase.

I thought about how some days are the right days for straightening out one’s life and health, and others you just have to forgive yourself for not being perfect.

Then I thought about that poor wretch of a drunk and all his sweaty silver.

I thought about how he probably hated himself and that he had kept those coins in his greasy filthy paws for hours on end trying to figure out if it was enough to buy him his poison. And in front of all those people who had made better life choices than him, or who had better opportunities for all I know, he had been humiliated for being poor. I decided that maybe today wasn’t the day he needed to become a better man. And so, despite every rational thought in my mind, I did a 180 on my instinct.

I marched out of the shop and did a little running jog down the street and caught up with this moving road kill of a man, and I shoved some money into his hand. “Enjoy your drink sir,” I said while lighting a cigarette and turning my back in one swift move.

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