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How We Live Now: The Calm Dog

Daily these daze, I find myself in a semi-waking state here in a state that also seems to be in a semi-waking state. Life in the late great state of California is like watching some invisible hand slowly turn up the rheostat on the government dictated “allowable level” of life. Every day just a bit more slack oozes out of the governor than the day before. Every day the homeless are magically made to fade far far out to the edge of the town more. It’s like waking out of a social coma into a mist of musts and must nots. Remarkable when you think about the attachments we accrue; to see how tightly woven the web of our world actually is as you feel the tug of strands you didn’t even know were attached to you.

Presented for Your Approval

This afternoon I drove over to Grocery Outlet in the corner of the vast and abandoned K-Mart Plaza. Except for Grocery Outlet it’s a large vacant parking lot spattered with semi-permanent Winnebagos, resting semi-trucks, and clotted with clusters of thick unkempt hedges between the rows of empty parking spaces. I enjoy this deserted parking lot and drive in large arcs outside the lines in this space to avoid the now meaningless speed bumps in front of the dead but still dimly lit K-Mart.

I pass by one hedge and see, just in passing, in a twinkling, two legs sticking out from under these hedges onto the asphalt surface. The legs are in Levis but the feet don’t have any shoes. And the legs aren’t moving.

I stop the car about ten yards away and get out to see if some poor sad bastard’s had to OD in the gutter of a deserted parking lot. I mentioned that there’s a small epidemic of meth overdosing among the tweakers that make up the hardcore outdoor army of Chico’s homeless? No? Well, I just did.

And so there it was and because I saw him I had to check that out. It’s a kind of duty inborn into every human being. I felt like just passing it by but I was compelled to investigate.

I get about seven yards from these legs on the asphalt when, slowly and calmly, the face of a very large and very calm-looking dog emerged from the hedges next to the legs.

This gave me pause since I have always made it a principle of getting through life to never trust a calm dog. This dog was very calm.

Plan B was to retreat to the office of the Grocery Outlet behind me and call in the Chico Police for a welfare check with a shout out to animal control. Done and done.

The requested operation — comprised of two different city vehicles with four city employees — rolled in in due course and — with me sort of shadowing along  —  the cops and a guy with a loop on a stick walked up on the legs and prodded them. Prodded them.

And of course, there was a low groan from the ground inside the hedge next to the dog who was still surprisingly calm. And of course then there were some mumbled words and then a distinct request to ‘just let me sleep right now okay?’ The four city employees withdrew a distance and had a conversation I couldn’t hear and then one of the cops went back over to the legs next to the dogs and said, “Okay, you have a good day sir” and they all jumped in their SUVs and were gone.

The junkie slept on and the dog stayed calm and I shrugged and went shopping. When I came out I walked over to where I could see the man. The dog  watched me very carefully. Calm.

Some people might think, “What a foolish waste of scarce city resources.” I think, “Nothing ever saves a junkie but no man deserves to die alone in a gutter. Money don’t enter into it.”

The other news from the brave new world of contradictions is that while I am anxious for the well being of individual street tweakers, I’m glad the city of Chico has had the stones to roust the large homeless encampments out of the parks and out of the creeks and out of the downtown traffic island to a strip south of the town in the industrial area. Of course that move has now been put on legal hold by folks in town who think all the homeless should have “tiny houses,” but not one of whom would let a junkie put up a tent in their backyard and use the “guest bathroom” in their non-tiny houses.

It’s how we live now.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Jack April 27, 2021, 4:31 PM

    Homelessness and holding up signs to beg for money at intersections weren’t too much of a problem in my neck of the woods growing up and I’m sure that there is a long, long laundry list of items that can be pulled out to explain the stories and circumstances of every individual who lives this way. In its infancy I felt very sorry for those who found themselves in that situation but as the numbers grew my feelings toward them changed and now I find that I’ sorry for them but I realize that there is nothing I can do to remedy the problems that come from lifestyles that they have chosen.

    Drugs and alcohol have been known killers for several hundred years and getting off of those things requires hands on medical and spiritual help, most of which is available free of charge to anyone who will ask for it. Junkies, tweakers and huffers are always in search of the next high and they would do that even if they had nice homes to live in or accommodating places to stay, complete with meals.

    It is a terrible and embarrassing thing, personally and nationally, for any man or woman to live an entire God given life like that but even God’s intervention will not override the free will that makes the selection to not even try and do what it takes to become and stay clean.

  • OldTexan April 27, 2021, 4:40 PM

    A dog with a man, when I went through some special Jungle Warfare training in the spring of 1967 that was supposed to help keep guys alive in Nam we were told that if a dog handler was wounded the first thing to do was to shoot the dog. The dog would protect his wounded buddy handler and tear the crap out of anyone who was trying to pick the soldier up. Then I was sent to Germany so I don’t know how true that advice was.

  • Kevin in PA April 27, 2021, 5:23 PM

    I won’t say that you are too kind, but I have become very calloused in recent years. I have little sympathy for junkies. I have had my share of bad experiences with them, stealing from me and lying to me.

    A little over a year ago, I was awakened in the wee hours and could not place the strange sound I was hearing, nor from where exactly it was coming. I eventually went back to sleep. The next morning I step out on the front steps and notice a heavy-gauge, construction-grade extension cord plugged into my front outside outlet…I thought to myself, “that’s funny. I don’t remember plugging in anything over here.”

    So, I unplug and begin to pull the cord up from under the mulch. Whoever it was that plugged in took the time to bury the cord under the mulch near my shrubbery and then at the lawn, buried it under the grass as well. Clearly, the culprit didn’t want to be detected. I pulled and pulled and followed the thing all the way to the garage of the vacant house next door. The place has been vacant for about 2 years and it is an eyesore. The township should condemn it. I’ve contacted the bank that holds the paper on the dump and they have no intention of fixing it or tearing it down. They just want to sell to some sucker and unload the place.

    Anyway, I get to the garage door where the extension cord goes under the door and into the garage. I bang loudly and holler YO! No answer. I walk around back and the back window is wide open. At this point, I am guessing it’s some neighborhood teenagers probably having a party in the place and bailed out the back window when I unplugged the power.

    I check with the neighbors on the other side of this property and they also claimed to have heard some strange noises last night. I decide to call the State Patrol. We don’t have a township police department. We are in farm country. 45 minutes later a trooper arrives, I explain the details, just as I did when I called it in. He goes around back and sees the window open, which gives probable cause to enter, but not before he gets back up…. another 30 minutes passes and trooper #2 shows up. They sweep the place, while I wait out back watching for possible runners jumping out the window. After a few minutes, I hear voices in the form of the property and go to check what’s happening.

    The garage door is up and there is a car inside and they have two junkies (glazed eyes, runny noses, and the sleazy look of heroin junkies)and their dog. I think the dog was clean and sober.

    The guy is crying about how tough his life has been and since covid, he lost his job (this was last March or April) and blah, blah. Then he turns to me and starts to profusely apologize for boosting my electricity. I told him to shut up.

    Cops ask me if I wish to press charges and I laughed. I asked where will the state send the subpoena to appear? And even if the dirtbag could provide some sort of mailing address for the court to send paperwork, do you think he will show up for a hearing? I don’t. They concurred.

    I told them I want them out of the place and that they are in no way to ever come back here. I also said I wanted to speak with both of these dopers when they were finished with the verbal warning. The cops agreed and five minutes later I was told that I could speak with them.

    The first thing I said to the guy was that if he would have come and knocked on my door, told me he was in trouble and needed to hook up to my electricity for a night or two, I would have probably said okay. I continued that if he would have come out and talked to me when I banged on the door, I likely would not have called the cops, but everything he did was stupid, stupid, and more stupid.

    I turned to the girl. She was dirty and doped out and probably younger than my own daughter, maybe mid-twenties. I recommended that she get away from this guy because he is a loser and he will drag you down with him. She insisted “he’s not a loser”. To which I said, you are sleeping in a car in the garage of an abandoned house and you’re boosting my electric! If that’s not a loser I don’t know what is.

    My final words: Don’t ever come back here, because next time I won’t call the cops. I will deal with it on my own.


  • ghostsniper April 27, 2021, 5:32 PM

    “Money don’t enter into it.”
    Well yes, money ALWAYS enters it.
    Stolen money.
    Without that stolen money you would have had no one to call.

    “…call in the Chico Police…”
    Right there.
    Stolen money DOES enter into it.
    In the absence of that stolen money you would have dealt with that cretin in the bush yourself, directly, or not.

    You can’t have freedom (individualism) and tyranny (democracy) at the same time, just as you can’t have free will and religion at the same time, just as you can’t be a male and a female at the se=ame time. Choose wisely.

  • Mumblix Grumph April 27, 2021, 7:10 PM

    Is this the true “Peace Dividend”? The unintended consequence of no wars to “thin the herd” every once in a while?

  • John Henry Lyons April 27, 2021, 10:11 PM

    Sir: Ah, Chico.

    I lived there for half of my life, and what a half it was. From the mid seventies to the early nineties, it was a magical place, even as that quality slipped away with more homeless, harder drugs for cheaper, and a growing influx of blue city carpetbaggers and their insane liberal baggage.

    Without the college and Bidwell Park, Chico could easily have been called Porterville, Merced, Fresno Norte, or Stockton.

    The Camp fired burned out Number 1 daughter. She and her husband got out with the grandgirls, the puppy, and what they were wearing. A year goes by and finds them in the Pacific Inland Empire, and a year later we joined them. Though I left behind many good friends and memories without the benefits of a proper goodbye due to the China Virus, I have no desire to return, if even for a visit because I prefer to remember what was, foggy as some of it may be. To return and see it as it is does me little favor when I can hold, if only for myself, the treasures of years of my very blessed life in that place in my heart I hold for Chico.

  • ghostsniper April 28, 2021, 4:24 AM

    Nicely sed, John Henry.

  • gwbnyc April 28, 2021, 4:31 AM

    “Drugs and alcohol have been known killers for several hundred years and getting off of those things requires hands on medical and spiritual help”

    With respect, I’ve found that not to be the case.

    One has to stop.

    The spiritual might follow. It may precede it.
    The Medical Dr. Seuss Meets Rube Goldberg Pocket Lining and Control Self-Replicating Apparatus is evident of itself.

  • John Venlet April 28, 2021, 5:12 AM

    You can’t have freedom (individualism) and tyranny (democracy) at the same time,…

    This is correct.

    …just as you can’t have free will and religion at the same time,…

    This is incorrect.

  • Annie Rose April 28, 2021, 6:03 AM

    My aunt has a very kind heart. Years ago in the mid-70’s, her church learned of a homeless man living with his 11-year-old daughter under a local bridge in northern Louisiana. Having an 11-year-old daughter herself and being financially very well off, she felt compelled to help.

    She offered to let the girl live with her family so she could go to school and be looked after, while the church worked with the dad to get him some social services and a job. Her daughter and this girl became fast friends. They began to act out at school and at home. They began sneaking out of the house late at night to meet boys. I should mention that my cousin at the age of 11 was beautiful and looked physically like she was 18 years old.

    The dad kept dropping by and demanding money, or he would take his daughter. He became very threatening towards my aunt and uncle and said he would accuse them of being “inappropriate” with his daughter if they didn’t pay him more and more money. A few months later, the two girls ran away together to have a “fun adventure”.

    My uncle and aunt hired a private detective. It took him three months to find the girls. He found them in a dirty, cheap hotel room in New Orleans with a line of diseased-looking men outside the door along with their black pimp, who they insisted loved them. They were hungry, drugged out, and scared. They were “working” on one bed.

    The detective and my uncle grabbed them and forced them to return home. The girls continued to be defiant. So my aunt finally drove this girl to the bridge—her dad had refused to clean himself up from his drugged-out state or to work with the church. My aunt told the girl to get out of the car. She told her to never darken their doorway again.

    My cousin continued to be a problem. She straightened out for a while when she met and fell in love with an older college student when she was 19. They married and had kids. When the youngest was in high school, her husband came home one day and found out that my cousin had run off to California to join a commune. It’s been 15 years and no one has heard from her. Her siblings could never figure out why their sister was this way. They were raised in a loving home with two wonderful parents. But my aunt chose to do a good deed and their family was never the same again. Tragic. I have a very jaded, but realistic view of the homeless crisis.

  • mary April 28, 2021, 7:07 AM

    Annie Rose–
    A sad, but true story of trying to help. I have a similar one. I suspect many families do, as well.

  • Jack April 28, 2021, 7:29 AM

    gwbnyc, …..your experience, my experience. Each tells a different tale.

    My experience has been that alcohol and drug abuse is much more a spiritual issue than a physical issue but both support each other and they cannot exist independently of each other. What the flesh does will always affect the spirit and always vice versa.

  • EX-Californian Pete April 28, 2021, 7:53 AM

    I don’t miss Chico at all.

    And I sure as hell don’t miss Commiefornia at all.

    And both are WAY past redemption at this point.

    I think most of us have been briefly “homeless” at one point or other in our lives- due to a disaster or unforeseen circumstance. It’s happened to me a couple of times, the last one due to the Camp Fire. Keyword- “briefly.”

    People with determination, drive, friends, common sense, and resourcefulness bounce back pretty quick.

    People without those assets become “habitually homeless.” And I have zero sympathy for those people and those who coddle them. Guess why those folks are homeless? They have “used up” all their family and friends, are lazy and stupid and aren’t worth a damn. Most seem to be mentally ill due to heavy drug and alcohol use. They have dug their own graves, and want the world to be their graveyard at the expense of others.

    Then, there are the bleeding-heart coddlers- hypocritical little Liberal twits that think giving money or ‘tiny houses’ to the dregs will miraculously turn them into productive model citizens. Of course, they demand that TAXPAYERS foot the bill, or WE do the work. I’ve asked every one of the coddlers I’ve met “How many have YOU housed? Why not let them camp in YOUR yard? Why don’t YOU volunteer at Houses For Humanity or donate money or materials to them?” They will either lie, run away, or try to baffle you with Libtard doublespeak after that.

    The worst one is that greasy little “Patrick” puke in Chico- he hands out baloney sandwiches to the homeless- bought by taxpayer money that he gets for his “mental and physical disabilities.” He’s one of those who uses Libtard terms like “unhoused” or “campers” instead of “homeless” or “pathetic junkies.”

    Separate the homeless who are truly disabled, and the Veterans, and spare no expense on helping them.

    As for all the others, round them up and send them to Mexico- in a “cultural exchange” program, as in “exchange” for all those illegal aliens flooding into the USA. Turnabout is fair play.

  • Missy April 28, 2021, 8:31 AM

    Back in 1983 when I was a starry eyed liberal, I convinced my late husband that we should host a Fresh Air Fund child for two weeks. We lived in a rural area, and it was a paradise for kids, well at least before smartphones.

    We asked for a boy our son’s age, and we got a huge, tough older kid from Morningside Heights in NYC. The boy had never slept in a bed, and at age 7 was unfamiliar with the alphabet. He roamed our house at night, and he tried to pull out our son’s eyelashes every day and worse. He could not sit still long enough to watch tv.

    After a week my husband put his foot down and had the kid moved to a family with older kids. Last month my son checked the NY State inmate locator and found that our “child” had done a term for attempted armed robbery. I could not have fixed this kid even if he had lived with us permanently. My naive attitude then that everyone was “fixable” with sunshine and goodwill is still mainstream with the elites, and we are stuck with the fruit of this catastrophically wrong approach to antisocial behaviors.

  • James ONeil April 28, 2021, 8:41 AM

    Darn glad I left the lower forty eight in the rear view mirror over fifty years ago.

  • gwbnyc April 28, 2021, 10:17 AM

    your response appreciated.

    I was speaking in generalities, I think we are closer in agreement than the brevity here allows.

    I got the white light in 1983. it is my whole life.

  • Jack April 28, 2021, 12:41 PM

    gwbnyc….it is my whole life too and I cannot remotely imagine living for a second without it.

  • John H Lyons April 28, 2021, 1:56 PM

    Cal Pete: Patrick the Sleaze! One of my favorite dirts! He wrote a juvenile letter to the CNR referring to Melania Trump as “Melanoma Rump”. Being a 2-time survivor, I wrote a follow-up and lo, it was printed. Gave both barrels to the schmuck. Now, get this: he followed up with a letter of apology! Methinks he might have been getting similar feedback from the Swamp of Butte County. A thoroughly useless yet disgusting representative of the sub-caliber inhabitants that ruined a wonderful place.

  • EX-Californian Pete April 28, 2021, 7:27 PM

    John Lyons-

    Yeah, he’s a greasy little piece of work!
    Back when the ChicoER still had a pair of ‘nads and allowed comments, Patrick and I got into it on a fairly regular basis. I barraged him with facts, but stayed pretty civil with him. He did all the Libtard stuff like name-calling, attempted belittling, and then came to the point of thinly-veiled threats towards me. I’m the kinda guy that likes to receive his threats in person, but the little puke chickened out every time. Typical…

    Well, I got to researching the guy and found out what a sleazebag he is- terminally unemployed, criminal record, and on full disability- although not really disabled. (except mentally, it seems)
    I figured out his usual “work” schedule- handing out the baloney sandwiches and “providing street therapy” for homeless dregs, and made a personal appearance at one of his stops.

    A little backstory- I’m a big ugly bastard. I workout a lot, weigh about 235. I’m 6’4″ barefoot, and about 6’5″ in my riding boots. I’m a Yi Dan, and have been told that I carry that presence. I ride an older, classic Harley. Think of a Caucasian, taller version of Danny Trejo- without the tattoos.

    I rode up to Patrick’s spot on a Sunday afternoon (in the square) and walked up to him. I said that I’ve heard so much about him, always wanted to meet him, and was so happy to finally see him in person. He was all smiles and full of himself.

    Then I leaned in REAL close, gave him a big, toothy smile, and told him who I was- the guy he’d insulted a gazillion times in the ChicoER. It was one of those priceless moments in life I’ll cherish forever.

    Funny thing- for a “disabled” guy, he can run pretty damn fast.

  • John H Lyons April 28, 2021, 8:32 PM

    Cal Pete:
    I salute.