Homeless in Vancouver: Bloody needles and the bloody idiots who leave them lying around!

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      It’s amazing to me how blasé I have become about the sight of discarded needles.

      On Saturday (July 8) I spent the hottest part of the day sheltered in the cool embrace of the covered parkade where I sleep. Which is to say that I didn’t bother getting up until the hot sun was going down, alongside the temperature.

      What I did mostly was read Neal Stephenson’s novel The Diamond Age, on a circa 2013 Kobo Aura e-reader that I pulled out of a Dumpster last week—while slowly working my way through a box of honey graham wafers.

      And, for something over an hour during the afternoon, I kept half an eye on a visitor.

      This was a fellow who sauntered in out of the sun and sat down, with his back against a wall, on the floor of the parkade. In doing so, he picked a spot just far enough inside the entrance to be in the shade but as far from me as possible, which was good etiquette if nothing else.

      He was a stocky lad, cleanly dressed in black—black shorts, black sleeveless shirt, black ball cap and he was carrying a black backpack. So, I thought, he was overheated. No surprise.

      As the minutes ticked by and the fellow just sat there, doing nothing to alarm or annoy me, I soon relaxed and paid him only scant attention.

      Within a half hour I noted absentmindedly that he appeared to have fallen asleep where he was sitting, with his knees slightly splayed, his shoulders hunched forward and his chin resting on his chest.

      Sign of an injection drug user—but what drug?

      How nice! A blood-streaked syringe, with a wee drop of blood on the concrete.
      Stanley Q. Woodvine

      For whatever reason, I wasn’t thinking that he had nodded off after injecting himself—perhaps because he looked like such a tidy Fairview resident. So maybe shame on me for profiling because he was nodding off after injecting himself…with something.

      I know this because when he finally roused himself after another half hour and departed the parkade, he left behind a used syringe on the concrete floor.

      I admit that I typecast him once again: this time as a thoughtless drug addict who, having made himself insensible with an injection of opioids, was now happily oblivious to his surroundings and hardly in a frame of mind to clean up after himself.

      So I cleaned up his little mess and it should be said that the syringe that he used and discarded—the kind distributed in all safe injection kits—was a standard insulin syringe, used by diabetics and illicit drug users alike.

      And there was nothing else besides the syringe and its cap and wrapper that I recognized from a safe injection kit; not the purple latex rubber tourniquet, or an empty blue plastic sterile water vial, or little tin cooker. The only other thing that he left behind was a little plastic vial that was threaded at one end, which I didn’t recognize.

      So I wondered if he really had injected an opioid.

      I never saw him go through the rigamarole of preparing a fix but a friend tells me that some opioid users fix in advance, in comfortable surroundings, so that they can have a pre-filled syringe—ready for shooting up quickly in a parkade, say.

      All the same, can I really assume that this fellow was an opioid drug users and not a diabetic who simply stopped to inject himself with insulin. The latter must happen right?

      But what does it matter anyway? Whatever he was injecting he was an inconsiderate boob to leave behind his blood-streaked needle where it could pierce the paw of a pet, or hurt an unsuspecting child, or their parent, or (if it had laid there until Monday) stick in the foot of some employee, rushing from their parked car to work.

      Stanley Q. Woodvine is a homeless resident of Vancouver who has worked in the past as an illustrator, graphic designer, and writer. Follow Stanley on Twitter at @sqwabb.