Thursday, November 16, 2006

Being The Helping Hand

I've always believed that the best way to help someone out of a bad situation is to make myself available to assist them. Sure there are government agencies and other sources of help for people out there (that usually get paid with tax dollars) but I think showing how far you are willing to give with your friendship is important.

Last year around this same time, I had a co-worker living with me that was working on rebuilding his life after problems with gambling and drinking. That day-to-day contact is pretty important as you drive to work together and find time to communicate positive thoughts. He is doing great since last year as he has purchased his own house and found a purpose in life. To this day, when I see him (I have a totally different shift than him now) he smiles and points me out to his friends and family as the person that helped him turn his life around (which I deny.)

Several weeks ago, I received a call from a friend of mine (who will remain nameless and be here-to-fore called 'my friend') that had fallen on hard times. She told me that after a drug problem in the family (her daughter and soon-to-be son-in-law), having her car break down when her job depended on it (meaning she lost the job delivering newspapers) and several financial mishaps (including not paying auto insurance when you have an SR-22 even if you don't currently have a car which she didn't have the money to pay the fine... so she went to jail for a month) that she was just trying to stay in town long enough for her probation to end (which I found out later meant that she had a problem several years ago with prescription pain medication and lost her nursing job because of it) so she could leave Las Vegas and move back to New Mexico where her family is to start her life over in a new environment.

I thought long and hard about helping her out. Sure, things went great with my other friend and I would hate to see this person out on the street in a worse situation but didn't also want to impose on Kerry when she comes over. My friend was staying at the notorious Blue Angel Motel downtown (well-known retreat for the downtrodden and insects) and was alright for the moment. She then found a place to stay when she couldn't pay for the weekly rates there. She had stayed in contact with someone she met in jail and felt she was in a similar situation with. After calling her house a few times, her friend's husband had heard about her dilemma and offered her use of the converted garage. Well, it seems her jail-friend had been in mandatory rehab and left early because she missed her kids. This didn't make the situation good for my friend but she made do. That was until a new situation arose that made her immediate retreat eminent.

Essentially, an ex-boyfriend came to visit her at her friend's house and the two got intimate [granted, this is what I'm hearing from my friend.] Coitus interruptus occured when her jail-friend entered the room. My friend followed her out of the room (with a robe on, I suppose) to talk to her. Anyhow, the night ended with not much more sensation. I wind up getting a call from my friend that she needed to get out of the house at that time. Not knowing much of the situation but wanting to help, went and picked her up. She proceeds to tell me that her jail-friend (who has a probation officer searching for her) had been going next door to get Meth. I also find out that her jail-friend has been obtaining things illegally online. This just so happens to come into play a few days later when the ex-boyfriend tells her that his credit card has been used to purchase some things on-line (coming to about $2,000 or so) and that he was missing $150 from his wallet. My friend claimed that it had to happen when her jail-friend entered the room and their clothes were on the floor. He blamed her and had threatened to turn her in to her probation officer over the ordeal. This would later get dropped as the next few days passed. Anyhow, for a person trying to keep out of trouble, I knew that wasn't the place for her to be.

Anyhow, my friend had planned to meet with her probation officer (either him coming by the house or her going to his office) and then leaving town on a bus on Wednesday night. During her stay, I picked up some food and other items she'd need and gave her some money just incase she needed anything. She decides to pay me back by cleaning the house (the second bedroom, second bath, kitchen and my bathroom) at which she did an amazing job. I then took her to the probation officer's office on Wednesday and killed time nearby at a store and Mexican restaurant until she was finished. The car was packed with her stuff for the train ride. She was upset when she came back as he still wanted to see where she was living. This meant a delay in her move (as she planned to come back if he called.) I told her that it was only time and that it didn't matter. An issue with her cellphone bill had come up and I told her that if she wanted to, she could paint my front door (which is a task that I've put off forever) and maybe come up with a few other little things for her to do with the money going to her phone bill. The phone got canceled anyhow but she did paint the door, then another door, another door, the walls around the door...

On Tuesday morning, I was awoken with a phone call. It was my credit card company asking me if I'd made some big purchases in the last few days. That was when deja vu hit me. It seems that the card in my wallet expired and the new card may have been amongst the many pieces of mail that were strewn across my kitchen counter. I received several calls that day. Many of them were asking about purchases that I made. It seems that after the card was registered on Saturday someone tried to open accounts with Discover and Dell as well as send thousands of dollars via Western Union, purchase tickets for Justin Timberlake and Queensryche, purchase shoes, buy gas... pretty much spend on anything possible. I've been reassured by my creditors that they are looking into the purchases and that I'm not liable for them. As I left the house that day, I was wary of leaving her there alone so I talked to my neighbors who kept an eye on the house.

I received a call that night at work that my friend had left the house (she didn't have a key so that meant she left the house unlocked) to walk down the block. My neighbor's brother hopped in his car and followed her. He saw her hop in someone's car for a few moments, hop back out and return to the house... expecting it was a drug deal. So... having more time to mull this over, I was pretty calm about it. I went to sleep knowing that I had to send her packing yesterday morning.

She was doing a final coat of paint on the front door when I talked to her. My friend had no shock in her eyes but denied she had anything to do with it. I didn't mention to her the $20 that I thought was missing from my wallet during the first few days of her stay (I tend to put everything on that kitchen counter) and I didn't tell her that I knew she'd been in my room on my computer (the printer was left on one day with a CD cover printed... it wasn't there the next day.) I packed her things and took her back to her jail-friend's house a few hours later. I slept well last night until the first of the new calls came in about new charges on new accounts.

So, is there a moral to this long tedious story? Yes, I'm only out some money that I spent to help her out and the time involved to clean up the credit problems. Had I had small expensive items like jewelry... I may not have been so lucky. I believe that I'd do it again if a friend was in need but I think that I'd want to sit down and learn everything about what got them to where they are now. I see life in the glass half-empty/half-full scenario and know there are times when you are standing in shallow water at the bottom of the glass. There is always water in the glass if you are still alive and a little more if you aren't in jail or on the streets. I will always hope to add water to your glass as I've been in shallow water before and am thankful now for being closer to the rim. Here's hoping the helping hand in your next act of kindness isn't bitten.


What do you think could change in less than 12 hours? A note was posted on my door stating that: "Mr. Night UPS driver. Please leave the items under the bench. Please do not knock." Essentially... my friend planned to come back for an item that must be special. I wasn't expected to see it as I usually leave through the garage and hardly use the front door. Well, two items charged on one of my cards from an adult Web site showed up. I placed them aside in my bedroom, notified my neighbor as well as the company and drove to work. I returned home to find my door to the garage was dead-bolted from the inside... which I couldn't have done. I then headed to the front door. The bottom knob was unlocked but the deadbolt was on. I cautiously entered the house and put my work items aside. The back door was unlocked (which I double-checked with the front door before leaving) and the screen door was open. I was now a bit jittery (I drank a RockStar energy drink with a late dinner which doesn't help) as I returned to the bedroom. One of the two items was missing as was the letter that was on the door earlier that morning. Needless to say home security has moved up on my priorities. The police were called and they did all that they can do for now but it does amaze me what people might do for sex toys.


Anonymous said...


You have a huge heart. I know some may read this story and say "dude, you were asking for trouble" but I am sure you were well aware of that when you offered to help out your friend. I've done the same thing and was out $600 which I later got back. If your friend currently has a drug problem, I hope she gets the help she needs.

LoraLoo said...

Wow, what an ordeal. You are so kind, it is too bad your "friend" here took such advantage of it.

I hope you don't find anymore surprises. I'd have to agree that home security has moved up the to-do list. Be careful.

Ken said...

Um. Wow. I'm hoping you don't have any more surprises. I would always like to think that I would help out friends in need. The only time I've come close to being in this situation is when my roommate brought his ex-wives kids to stay with us AND asked if it was OK for her to spend the night after 1. her power was shutoff for non-payment in 100 degree heat and 2. CPS had been called. The ex-wife had treated him poorly and I was leery of her staying in my house. That never came to pass, but the situation reared itself again after we began renting out the townhouse and said ex-wife needed a place to stay. She did end up taking advantage of this situation as well, and he learned his lesson. It's just too bad the kids have to suffer with a Mom that bounces from man to man.

Teri said...

Wow, when you first told me the story, I was leary.. Now I know how it ended and all I can say is unbelievable. What a nightmare.

Unknown said...

Teri actually made me get online and read this and all I can say is WOW.

Jen said...

I guess I have two things to say. I am sorry that you tried to do something nice for someone and were so badly repaid for your kindness.

Secondly...Im glad to see that you didnt sour on the idea of helping someone.

I have always been told that you cant feel foolish for trying to do the right thing even when someone betrays your trust for doing so.

This person may not get that...but the first guy obviously did. Seems to me like your still way ahead.

Fred said...

Holy crap. What an ordeal you've been through. You did the right thing, though. She had to go.

We tried to help The Missus' brother many years ago by letting him stay in her apartment after she moved out. We went in a few months later to find the place had been completely trashed. We had to pay for all the damage.

It's been 21 years since that incident, and they haven't spoken since.

Martin said...

I want to thank all of you for your comments. I don't know how I would have slept better if I didn't type this out that night... and the following night. All the locks have been changed and I keep checking the windows. Paranoia isn't a bad thing is it? Thinking people are after you when they are is being realistic. B)