Monday, February 16, 2004

A lady with toxic red dyed hair came into the bookstore today to encourage me and my fellow bouqinists to come out the 20th for a Hugs not Drugs signwave. I was unpacking a massive shipment and was really annoyed with her chipper squeaking, but being presented the opportunity to subjectively attack her program (perks of no longer being a journalist--unbias out the window!), I posed the question: exactly how does waving signs on the side of the highway doing anything to 1) prevent people from taking drugs and 2) encourage the addicted to seek treatment that isn't even available affordably or locally?

((Before I continue, it is important to understand that the "war on ice" (creative lot, the County of Hawaii) is the island's cause celebre. It's quite en vogue to be concerned about the ice epidemic and it's even more en vogue to attend signwaves to demonstrate the dedication of one's concern.))

She replied that signwaves foster communication in the community. "It's a chance for people to get together and talk story," said this woman who transplanted from god who cares, continental USA, three years ago. I paused, knowing full well I was only wasting my time and breath continuing. "But don't you think you're preaching to the choir? I mean the people 'at-risk' don't come out to wave signs, do they?" She defended with "you know, more than 1500 came out to wave signs last time we did this." (It's amazing to think what people can be convinced of...) Then I pulled out the "I grew up here" and "I was a reporter at the paper and had to cover this kind of thing" cards, then climbed up onto the soap box and rambled on about how it seemed to me that the growing drug problem is indicitive of a greater social malaise, namely the lack of professional and educational opportunities for young people and the inability of the local government to secure funding for and implement social programs for recreation and treatment. I threw in a factoid I picked up at an ice meeting about how most new users are actually not second-graders, but in the 18 to 24-year-old age bracket, then added "if I weren't getting the hell out of here and my livelihood revolved around making other people's beds and smiling a lot for a bunch of puffy, white tourists who can afford to live the fantasy of paradise and who serve as a daily reminder of my shit role in the grand scheme of things, well, shit, I might be tempted to hit the pipe every now and again, myself." She looked at me, politely, as if I was speaking Swahili and said "I know Karen at the paper!" We both agreed that Karen is a nice person, then the toxic redhead insisted that I post her flyer up for my colleagues to consider. Coming back to the original topic, I said that I didn't mean to come off so negative, but that I think about this sort of thing a lot and while I don't doubt the devotion and intention of people like herself, it's sad to see these movements lose steam when results aren't produced due to the lack of effective planning. Redhead looked at me as if she needed to get in the last word as said "it is kind of depressing, thinking about all of this..." then hiked it out, no doubt in search of a dedicated 1499 other people not committed spending 30 minutes flooding the state legislature switchboard with syncronized phone calls, but to potentially falling victim to sunstroke and Kona driving, for "2 to 3 hours, free of charge."

Maybe my dad is right and I really just have a shitty outlook on life. This makes me eager for China, though. Just to be somewhere so different. Maybe six months of living in densely populated communism will make me appreciate the finer aspects of yankee doodle livin'. Maybe I'll be so put off by squatty-potties, Mao buttons and circular logic that I'll come home, get an MBA, buy an SUV, vote Republican and bitch about welfare mothers sucking up MY tax money and those faggoty-ass Canadians who would privitize their healthcare system if they knew what was best. Or maybe I just eat well and get really well versed in linguistic nomenclature.

As Al Landon said in his 1936 presidential campaign, "the future lies ahead."

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