A needle in a haystack?


Matt White

Drugs are everywhere, and there is definitely a problem coursing though our quaint sub-new England streets – a problem which everyone seems to have been made well aware of.
To many, it seems heroin has killed and claimed the livelihood of our once naïve youth. Members of our community have died from overdose, toddlers are being diagnosed with Hepatitis and the ever growing drug crime rate continues to escalate towards numbers not seen since the 1970′s.
Even at my office, I spend most days proofing and editing copy written by others I work with. They spend their time writing and reporting the hot-button issues surrounding both the drug trade and consequential criminal and penal repercussions associated with the lifestyle.
Luckily, The topic has still primarily been kept at bay for me on a personal level; but things are evolving everyday – and now I cannot help but take notice.
One of the first experiences that peaked my attention was the discovery of a used syringe that was happened upon in the parking lot between the two buildings where I work.
The officer who responded drove his patrol unit to “the scene,” and I estimate that it took longer to drive here than it would had the Officer simply walked across the parking lot that separates the two properties.
I only mention that to shed some perspective on the proximity of my office to law enforcement 24/7. We can literally see in each other’s windows; depending on the direction of the prevailing winds one of my kids could probably glide a paper airplane over there. It’s that close.
At any rate, the police were called to handle the situation and in the end no one was actually hurt, but that’s not to say that it wasn’t an unnerving event. They did handle the needle, and I’ll presume that they disposed of it responsibly according to their protocol.
Later that day while discussing the matter with or editor and publisher, we were informed that if we were ever to discover something of the like, we should inform management who would summon the police to deal with it again accordingly.
Since then, I have become more and more aware of where I walk and where I step for fear of getting poked by medical waste. This is the society we live in now, and I can’t help but feel saddened by it.
I briefed my grandparents – who moved to Norwich in 1965 to raise my mother, aunt and uncles – about the situation; and their reaction was especially disheartening. They were somewhere between heartbroken and appalled.
Recently, I had heard word through an online social media site that an acquaintance of mine – whom I had attended high school with here in Norwich – had an similar, yet amplified experience. He and I are both fathers with children around the same age, as we’re about the same age.
I was originally going to write of his experience as a news piece for my work, but decided that because of how strongly I felt that I couldn’t remain objective no matter who hard I tried.
Tree trimmers had been hired to to work behind his home and they discovered what is believed to be nearly 40 used syringes that tenants of the adjoining property to the rear of his had disposed of by tossing atop a garage roof.
I assume that they (whomever discarded the used sharps) thought that the dirty needles would never be discovered. As addicts often do, they most likely became increasingly ignorant and complacent with the practice – only for it to eventually become routine. The fact that my friend’s daughters swing set and the backyard they often play in together surely never crossed their minds.
My friend summoned the police – who drove over to his neighborhood – and informed the authorities of the discovery, much like the procedure that went down here at the office.
Based on his experience, this is where the similarities of the two experiences begin to differ.
The responding officer indicated that there was nothing that they could do for him… because the litter wasn’t on HIS property.  The officer indicated it wasn’t the Police Department’s  responsibility to pick them up and that HE should figure out how to safely dispose of them. The landlord of the property claimed that he too wasn’t responsible, and scoffed – having no time to deal with such trivial issues.
I surely hope that this is an isolated reaction of both our paid law enforcement and community’s landlords, simply because this behavior only encourages blatant disregard for the future of this country everyone claims to love so dear.
I sincerely hope that they – like the addicts– do not become increasingly ignorant and complacent with the practice – only for it to eventually became routine. At the end of the day, if you’re not a part of the solution, what are you really a part of?