Hello, stranger!

When I was given an assignment to go out and meet someone to interview, I was immediately turned off. Not because I’m not interested in meeting people or hearing their stories, but mainly because I’ve been in a bit of a funk trying not to bite people’s head off mid-conversation–in general lately. I knew what kind of story I wanted to hear, one that compares to mine in the same respect, and I fell onto the grand idea of where I could meet someone with a similar tale: a Narcotics Anonymous meeting!

There were tons of stories I could tell sitting in that room, and it honestly would not have been hard to just sit in a circle and snap a picture of some poor unknowingly soul; however, as a fellow member I know that would defy half of the purpose as purposed in the title – Anonymous. I found a guy who had that story, he did not want me to use his real name so we will call him Tom. He was covered in tattoos, said ‘like’ every other word when he spoke and wore west coast gear. He agreed to be a part of this interview, without even asking what it was for. West coast attitude.

He began his story by telling me how he recently lost his mother back in early September to four consecutive and unexpected heart attacks. He was living in Southern California at the time and flew to Phoenix, Arizona as soon as he found out. She survived a couple of days, only to be lost on Friday September 6, 2014. That in itself would have been enough of a good story to write about, but I could tell he did not want to go further so he quickly changed the subject and began to retrace his steps though his life.

He brought up how his father had an extremely successful car dealership chain, and his mom was a nurse. He grew up wealthy to the point of having a BMW by the age of 16 and had a full-fledged drug addiction already firmly in place. He began distributing mass quantities of cocaine by the age of 17, and he quickly was caught up in a life of crime. His favorite thing to do though was to trip on psychedelics mainly acid, mushrooms ecstasy and ketamine. He said he went between all straight for “at least a year.” In 2009, he was arrested after an altercation and was charged with attempted aggravated assault and attempted assault with a deadly weapon and he spent collectively 8 months in county jail and two years on probation.

The most fascinating tale he told was one from November 2012. Tom was severely injured when his brother Ben was going 100 miles an hour in a residential designated for vehicles going 30 miles per hour zone and barreled and flipped upside down into a house. Ben broke his neck, luckily without severing his spinal cord, but Tom got the worst of it. He recalls trying to get up once the police arrived, but quickly realized that he his foot was “attached to my knee.” He made a point of adding “my pants slipped down and it was, like, the one of the only times I wasn’t wearing underwear.”  We laughed at the memory together, and he nonchalantly switched and added how the worst pain he ever felt was when the paramedics set the bones back in place. He kicked a paramedic in the face.

Once at the hospital, he was told he had punctured he broke his back and punctured his lung. Surprisingly, he only spent a week in the hospital after the accident and ordered to bed rest and crutches until he could get a proper surgery on his leg.

“Long story short, I got a metal rod instead of a shin, and an ankle plate from my ankle to my foot.” Originally it took over two months for him to place pressure on his injured leg and 5 to walk from his bed to the bathroom without a walking aid. It took nearly two years after the first surgery, until he developed sever infection caused by the foreign objects and was faced with the real possibility of having to amputate his entire leg. In his last surgery, doctors went in and removed a screw and ever since he has able to walk long distances without any assistance.

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When I meet new people and hear their stories, I am concerned that they won’t be honest with me. I tried calling bullshit at several points and he whipped out his computer and showed me a news video where the newscaster actually said his full [real] name. We got a long so great we actually exchanged numbers and are friends on Facebook. It’s nice to meet someone else that has also had a near death experience because neither of us have met one before. So I really am glad I actually went out of my way to meet someone new. I picked good.

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