Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Tale of Two Women

This is a tale of two women. They share two things in common: they both have long hair, and they are both from Butts County. That’s where the resemblance stops.
Their names don’t matter. For obvious legal reasons, I can’t use their real names, but I will call one woman Ms. Jones and the other Ms. Smith. They are both real people and are both, to a degree, friends of mine.
I’ll start with Ms. Smith. She grew up almost literally dirt poor, surrounded by the rusting metal hunks of trailer park homes and the constant odor of cigarettes, booze and decay. She is not traditionally pretty, and her teeth are less than perfect—far less, in fact. Her parents were both alcoholics and her mother bears the telltale “chicken lady” appearance that chronic crystal meth users develop, toothless, thin and gaunt. Her father works for a local contractor when he can, but her mother wanders the streets, back and forth to the local store for smokes and booze. A pretty depressing world, and young Ms. Smith could hardly be blamed for falling into a cycle of alcoholism and addiction, given the role models she had at home. The poor girl hardly stood a chance.
Ms. Jones, on the other hand, grew up in a nice home. Pretty—extremely pretty, in fact, she had her choice of careers, and of who she dated. She found a guy she really liked and soon found herself pregnant with what would turn out to be a beautiful child. She also found herself in college, studying hard in pursuit of what can only be described as one of the most noble of professions. Degree in hand she achieved her goal when she was hired at a nearby school as a teacher and shaper of young minds. Her life was set.
Ms. Smith, on the other hand, had it rough. With her poor background, and imperfect appearance, the best she could do was a minimum wage gig at a local convenience store, where what money she did make was then taken by her parents for their vices. Then ownership of the place changed hands and soon Ms. Smith, who had been doing a surprisingly good job, was out of work.
Then life pulled one of its nasty little tricks. While Ms. Smith was being let go from the only job she had ever had, Ms. Jones, well paid educator, with a bright future, nice car and house, made the decision that she just had to try crystal meth. Just one time. One auto accident and charges of erratic behavior later, all of a sudden Ms. Jones found herself out of a job and with a sick craving for a drug that would soon leave her not only selling her child’s toys and computer for meth money, but frantically looking for hair products that would fool DFCS when they tested her hair for signs of meth use. Her good looks were beginning to fade. Her child had been taken away. Then earlier this summer she was arrested at a roadblock for possession with intent to distribute a large amount of crystal meth. Life in the gutter, life in the trash, life almost over.
Ms. Smith, on the other hand, took the high road and moved out of her addicted, leeching parents’ trailer and in with good relatives in a neighboring county. She never did fall into the vicious cycle of addiction. Instead,she showed what true character is all about: she found another job, met a nice young man and is thriving. Things are good.
Isn’t life funny that way?

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