So you want a good story?
An acquaintance of ours was sleeping early last Saturday morning when her son, age 11, came into their bedroom and shook her gently.
"Mom! Mom!" he whispered, "There's someone in the bathroom."
"Oh it's just your sister," she said groggily before rolling over, "go back to bed."
"No Mom, it's not Jessica, there's someone in the bathroom!"
The boy kept at it for a minute or two until she finally woke up and the child's words got through to her brain. She decided she'd better get up and see what was going on so she went to the bathroom door and knocked.
"Jessica--are you in there?"
She turned the knob and pushed open the door but it hit against something. She pushed on it, prying it open enough so she could see through the crack to the bathroom mirror. (This would be the point where the scary music would start playing--just for point of reference.) There, reflected in the glass was the image of someone who was definitely NOT her daughter.
She panicked a bit and ran to call the police (her husband slept through it all) then ran back to the bathroom where she pushed her way in. Bent over the bathroom sink, clutching the sides of the bowl and swaying back and forth was a naked woman, moaning and grunting and muttering to herself.
(So far so good? Are you gasping yet?)
Anyway, it quickly became apparent to our friend that the woman was completely drunk and didn't know where she was. The best guess is that the woman was homeless and had been wandering in the neighborhood when she found an open door and stumbled into the house.
The woman was in the final stages of hypothermia. In one of those odd biological twists, it's common for hypothermic people to have the delusion that they are burning up with fever--I'm not sure why the body does this, but it's this weird trick that nature plays--and it's not unusual to find people who are freezing to death stripping their clothes off.
The clues suggested that after the woman had stripped naked she stumbled downstairs to the family room couch where the boy was sleeping (apparently he sometimes gets up and moves down to the couch on Saturday mornings) and she woke him up but then went up to the bathroom. It was then that the boy went to get Mom.
By the time the police got there our friends had wrapped the woman up in a bathrobe and were trying to warm her. The police asked if they wanted to press charges but they of course said no.
What a story! But the funny thing is, although I'm obviously glad no one was hurt and hope this goes as a lesson to people who don't bother to lock their doors at night (especially with children in the house) I can't help but think that how fortunate it was that their door was open. They could have just as easily awoken to find the poor woman frozen to death in their front yard.
I'm glad they were able to prevent such a tragedy but it also made me wonder where the woman slept last night? Was she wandering the streets again, nearly frozen or drunk like the night before? Helping her one night surely won't solve the bigger, more tragic, problem.
Whenever the temperatures drop and I hurry to my cold car, praying for the engine to warm up or whenever I walk outside and the air is so cold it hurts to breathe and the snow crunches like Styrofoam when I step on it I'm always reminded of those who don't have the luxury of a warm house and soft bed, those who wander around town all day until the homeless shelter opens for the night.
What must it be like to be homeless in Alaska? Where is that woman now?
Technorati tags: Anchorage, Alaska homelessness
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
So you want a good story?