I’m sure that my dad must have made many recommendations to us, but the one that I remember most clearly was, “I don’t care what you do, but don’t lie about it.” He often described how being caught in a lie left other people wondering what else about you couldn’t be trusted.
I need to write about a recent experience that is currently affecting my piece of mind. Last Sunday, a friend who I fully trust called with a request of my husband and me. My friend and her husband had been housing a young man for a couple of weeks, who would otherwise be homeless. My friends were going to be out of town for a week and asked if we would provide him housing for two nights, as he had reservations for a flight on Tuesday morning. They told me he was friendly, walked a lot, had family problems, and smoked pot, but would leave the house to do so.
Without hesitation, I said ‘yes,’ not even checking with Paul, as I was certain that he would agree. We have comfortable upstairs space, recently offered through Airbnb, now available for family and friends. So, two nights and one full day didn’t seem much of an imposition, actually felt as if we were simply doing a good deed.
Our friends arrived with 29-year-old Danny (not his real name) and joined us for tea. Danny had coffee with Paul, saying he wanted the caffeine. We spent the afternoon engaged in conversation, learning that Danny had lost his job selling pot at a local shop and was headed to Los Angeles, where a similar job awaited him, along with housing. He was quite proud of his associate’s degree education and of his in-depth knowledge of many varieties of marijuana. He described the generous tips he received from customers who appreciated his excellent recommendations of specific remedies for specific ailments and needs. He also described in length the many ways that his family had repeatedly let him down.
We ordered pizza for dinner. By the time he went to bed that night, I felt exhausted, recognizing that Covid has left me unused to being with others for more than brief periods. Additionally, Danny’s life, centered on pot, was so very different than my own. When Paul got up the next morning and brewed coffee, Danny came downstairs to join him at 7 am, highly energized and talkative. I hadn’t even brushed my teeth yet and didn’t want to talk to anyone. Danny declined an offer of breakfast, just drinking coffee.
He was out a good part of the day, then had dinner with us at about 7 pm, during which he told us that he would not be leaving in the morning, after all. He said that his brother had promised him money for the flight and that he had made arrangements with the airline to pay for his ticket in the morning. He had just learned that his brother was not going to give him the money. Warning! . . . Danger! . . . Red flashing lights! . . . Does this sound fishy to you? Well, it did to me.
So, these are the pieces that came crashing together in my head: my desire to be a good person, my desire not to be used, my certainly that we had been lied to, and my concern that this person had no other place to stay. The first desire took precedence and I assured Danny that he could stay with us until my friends returned home. Of course, I had no idea whether they would want him back with them.
We talked about plans and Danny said that in the morning, he would go to the library to use a computer and then go to the hospital to talk with a psychiatrist. Have I mentioned that he’s talked about being depressed with recent thoughts of suicide? He appears to be high almost constantly, so I don’t know what to believe. And, remember how I started this essay? I have no idea what I can trust in him.
In the morning, the morning we had expected him to leave, he headed out for the library and the hospital. I asked him to call and let us know when to expect him back. He called about 4:00, saying he’d be about an hour. He arrived about 8 pm, and we told him that we wanted him to leave in the morning. We discussed local options for the homeless and he mentioned an apartment of his brother’s where he might be able to sleep.
So, he has just left here a couple of hours ago. We feel a little guilty, yes, but not enough to have him in our home for another night. I don’t know if addiction happens with pot, but his mind is certainly unsettled, ungrounded. He is ‘a nice guy,’ but is not currently accepting responsibility for his actions. I don’t feel responsible for him. The help that he needs is beyond me.
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