A close up shot of an orange.  Why?  I just don't know...

Des Informations, des Idées, et des Opinions Suspectes - rarement mises à jour et de qualité douteuse.

I think I have finally overdosed on laissez faire.

I used to do this thing on occasion where I would buy a pack of smokes late at night, have one or two and then walk around and find a SDF (homeless person) to give the rest of the pack to. It was win-win. I didn't bring the smokes home and I would make someone's night with a little gift. So some time ago, I was doing this late-night-smokes thing and I spotted this girl - young, not ugly, but plainly dirty and not in a good way, sitting in this little dark alcove near the train station. I offered her the pack but she was confused about why someone would give her a full pack of cigarettes and more than a little wary about it. It turned out she didn't smoke. That was rare to the point that I had never encountered a homeless person before who wouldn't take a cigarette. Squatting there, I told her to "hold that thought" and went around the corner to find some more typical homeless to give the smokes to. I did and and then I came back to her and took a seat beside her.

We worked out that she was in fact German, she was 25, and she told me flat out that she was in trouble. Her name was Greta (name changed). She was not drunk or stoned but as I said, she was very dirty - her clothes and her skin and her face were so dirty, and she was twitching like crazy. Among other things, she told me that she aligned herself with some guy who abused her - she wanted to go to the police about it but I told her flat out she'd be wasting her time. She was too incoherent in general and wasn't making enough sense for the police. (And keep in mind that this city is loaded with homeless) She was trilingual and plainly well-educated though and she chatted about "philosophy" and "psychology" and remarked quite intelligently on how it feels when the world streams past her without even acknowledging her existence any longer - and she did say one thing which made me laugh out loud: "I think I have finally overdosed on laissez faire" which was making fun of the very thing that brought her (and me) to the south of France in the first place.

As I said, she was twitching and spasming, holding her side and rocking. I kept asking her if she was in pain, the way she held her side, but she responded every time that she wasn't. It looked to me like she was trying to pull herself closer into herself. The alcove where we were was really dirty, super filthy, but she was just sitting in it - her backpack was in it. Right in it. Gross. Sitting next to her, she proceeded to ramble on and on. She talked non-stop. She said more than once that maybe she should go home to Germany and I said every time that it was a *terrific* idea - she was going to get chewed and up and spit out on the streets here. But after a while, I realized that she had absolutely no place to go in this town and very probably no place to go back to in Germany.

I listened to her for as long as I could, for about 45 minutes, but I was hosting people from back home back at my place and they were no doubt wondering where the hell I had disappeared to since I said I'd only be away for a minute. I gave Greta 10€ "just because" and what struck me was that at first she wouldn't take it. I really had to insist - which was another unusual thing about her. She also had perfect teeth - so there were no meth problems or similar with her. It was all very confusing - especially with all the druggie-like twitching. She kept asking me to stay and told me some stuff I didn't want to hear, like guys - lots of guys - before I came along telling her they were on "holiday" and offering her 20€ for a blow job ... so fortunate people like me trying to degrade a young woman in trouble for their own enjoyment ...

I really wanted to get her out of that alcove before I left but I was torn. The one cheap (35€ a night) hotel in town that I could put her in was full (I had just walked by and marveled how that shithole could be "complet" like the sign on the door said) and I sure as hell couldn't bring her back to my place, not just because of my visitors but because that would put me in a very, very dangerous position. I wanted badly to help her out somehow but again I felt (and feel) powerless to do so. Unfortunately, at that moment she herself was the only person who could help her and she wasn't making any move to do so. So in the end as I was leaving, I told her that if she was still there in the morning (I usually walk a couple of kilometers each morning around 7AM) that I'd take her for a croissant and coffee. She asked me for my number. I not only gave it to her, I also then used her phone to call mine to make sure I had done it right. I told her to call me if she needed me. She plainly didn't want me to go (the one guy in town apparently who wasn't trying to fuck her) and she kept dragging me back towards her with more conversation but eventually I got away, feeling terrible. She assured me she wouldn't be there in the morning. I told her to "Be selfish, take care of yourself and bon courage"

When I got back to the apartment, I apologized to my guests and told them the whole story. One of my guests, who is a nurse, said it sounded to her like schizophrenia and that 25-years-old is exactly the age when that starts to appear. Her theory chilled me because it fit so perfectly with what I saw, and Greta will therefore probably not get help from anyone, and by not being able to help herself, she's essentially fucked. What a waste. Parents, siblings...how could they cut this person loose?

There's more to this story that transpired over the next several days; none of it good. The recounting of the above revives how haunted I still am by whole the experience. Maybe it's because I'm getting older, but it's getting harder and harder to simply turn away and put things like this out of my mind. At that time, I was living alone in a big apartment. In another world I could have let her stay there with me for literally months, clean, fed, and entertained, but in this world it's just impossible. And so sad.

I think I have finally overdosed on laissez faire.
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Maybe read No Big Deal, my favourite story I ever wrote.

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