Thursday, February 04, 2016

Cafe Stories - Plastic Bottles For The Psyche Ward

Today in the cafe... I'm bringing the outdoor furniture inside as I close up. A woman looks inside, sees that we are closed and starts to walk on just as I say hello. She stops walking and asks if we are closed. Yes, I say, but what were you after? Do you have something that I could take away? Some food? I tell her I can do a ham and cheese croissant or something, and she says yes, that would be good. She comes inside the cafe with most of the outside furniture packed in parts upside down.

Ovens get switched back on. She takes a Coke from the fridge and asks if we have plastic bottles "because this is for a psyche ward."

All flavours we have are in glass except for the vanilla Coke in plastic, so she settles for the plastic.

She is quiet and well spoken and has a quietly, strong calm about her. I make my assumptions and ask her, Is that where you work? In the psyche ward?

No, she tells me, I'm visiting someone there.


Yes. It's my son.


And then she tells me about his troubles. It's been a long battle. He's 33 years old now but the troubles started when he was 18 or 19... earlier than that when you consider his other habits and addictions, the compulsive collections of things before chemicals were part of his world. And then the chemicals replaced the objects and since then he's been in prison and he's been homeless and just recently he vanished from her world only for St Vincents to get in touch with her to tell her that her son was with them. Not well, but alive.

She tells me that her siblings are supportive, and she tells me that as hard as it is for her, it's harder for him. Her level of selflessness is impressive. We talk about the homeless and fortune and this guy she knows who lives in a tent in the sand dunes near where she lives and how he has some sort of community support, and how she thinks of him as houseless rather than homeless.

I tell her about a dear friend of mine who beat ice. She disappeared from my life for a year, kicked that arsehole habit, turned her life around big time. She tells me that my friend is lucky. Yes, I think, my friend is lucky that she is so strong.

I hand the now toasted ham and cheese croissant to her, and she turns to leave with her plastic Coke bottle, back to her son in the psyche ward.

Thanks for staying open for me, she tells me, and thanks for the chat.

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