I love reading the profiles on people in the Sunday paper because the longer I live in this area and the older I get, the more frequently I actually know the person profiled. I was profiled five years ago, and at the bottom of the right side they always ask you to say “one word that describes me best is _______.”
Those are some interesting answers. I didn’t hesitate for mine. It took me .000004 seconds to blurt out “competitive.” Anyone who knows me well, and especially those who grew up with me when I played three sports in high school, knows this. I think I liked Neile Jones’ the best: “I hope I can’t ever be described with just one word.” Amen, sista, savvy answer by a savvy lady.
A word I have rarely ever been accused of being, as sarcastic and cynical as I can come across sometimes on my show, is “naive.” People in the media are usually exposed to a higher ratio of soul-sucking instances of depressing human nature than the average person due to the fact that we (the media) are the ones having to REPORT the very ridiculous stories of people shoplifting topless and drunk, choking to death on bacon, drunk or someone who shoots themselves in the head but does so next to his wife … who happened to be killed by the same bullet that he killed himself with since she was lying right next to him. You know. Stuff like that.
So, I was watching television the other day and saw what had to be the 56th story in the past month about a meth lab bust in “our hometown.”
It made me think, do I actually KNOW anyone that actually does meth? I mean, when people get together, drinking is socially accepted. It’s legal. Beer, wine, alcohol, it’s legal, sold in stores, bars, hell even in Sam’s Club and convenience stores now (wooohooo Arkansas!) And you’ll go to parties, or know people, or hear about people, where pot is used. I’ve never smoked weed in my life (true story, much to the chagrin of a few people I know), but really don’t judge anyone who does. Whatever.
But, meth? I’ve never gone to a party where someone just started tweaking right there. Never had neighbors over for meth. Never went to a ballgame for a hot dog and some meth. Never played meth pong. Never shotgunned some meth. Never gave a toast with met. You get the picture. Meth has never been witnessed by me, ever. So, clearly, nobody I know does it, right? Only toothless trailer trash in the foothills who boil it in the pickups do it! Nobody *I* know would cook or smoke or shoot that crap! I mean, successful, normal looking people with families and jobs OBVIOUSLY don’t do meth!
So I went on my show Tuesday and asked, almost incredulously, “do any of you guys know someone who has used, or uses, meth?”
Now, I know my audience, okay? The Loyal and Royal Army spans all socio-economical ranges, but I know damn well I have an enormous amount of people in the Army who are not college educated or make a lot of money. Many of them are straight up poor. Yet, I was ill-prepared for the response I got that morning.
Phone call after phone call. Facebook post after post. Email after email. All about meth abuse. One call came from a man who said he was making six figures, happily married, great job, big house, and he started using meth to work 18-hour days to make more money. One day nine years ago, with a wad of cash in one pocket and a stash of meth in the other, a carload of men came to his job site, knocked him down, stole his roll and meth, and took a sledgehammer to his face and head, leaving him for dead. He lost his job, his house, his wife, his life. He is now alive with a mechanical face, permanently disabled, divorced, and regrettful every day.
Another girl called up my show to say she wasn’t just IN drug court, she was LITERALLY driving to drug court … that very minute. Like, she was calling my show ON THE WAY to drug court. I asked her what kind of support system she had to help her with her meth abuse. She replied that her family – parents, siblings, boyfriend and even her GRANDPARENTS – all had gotten hooked on meth. She went on to say that her boyfriend had gotten help, and was so far clean, and helping her as well.
Posts sent to me that morning from people saying they’d lost people to meth. Husbands. Wives. Sons. Daughters. Rich. Poor. High school dropouts. Lawyers. Doctors. All with common denominators: addiction to a substance that made those hooked on it lie, steal, cheat, and whatever else it took to score that drug even if it ruined lives, jobs, marriages and families in the process. Meth, as many in the Loyal and Royal were correct in pointing out, is an equal opportunity destroyer. Maybe the best example of this is when you watch Drug Court with Judge Mary Ann Gunn on TV, where all the people who appear before Judge Gunn wear the exact same jail-issued outfits. Outfits people find themselves in that make them the same as everyone else, just as the meth found them.
Now, I know not everybody that appears in Judge Gunn’s drug court is in there for meth. Former Razorback Matt Jones was famously in there on cocaine charges. But meth has truly become The Perfect Storm of illegal and elicit drugs. Cheap to make, easy to get, and addictive as any drug there is. I have had Judge Gunn on my show a few times and if there is anyone I truly admire for their compassion and approach to not just the law enforcement of meth use, but the rehabilitation of those ravaged by the drug, it is her. She also knows probably better than anyone that meth abuse has, like a splintered windshield, reached every corner of our area, and most of America as well. And anybody who thinks that’s not the case is what I was before Tuesday morning.
Jon Williams is a contributor for the Fayetteville Flyer. He also hosts “The Jon Williams Show” mornings on Clear Channel’s 93.3 The Eagle and has lived in Northwest Arkansas for 20 years. Jon’s world revolves around his son Jack and wife Judy, and invites you to join the Loyal and Royal Army of his listeners on Facebook. For more of Jon’s contributions, visit his author page.