"Grippers" (how to get homeless without even trying #14)

Episode #14: “Living with Consequences(click on the “Grippers” tab for previous 13 episodes)

From the Webster Dictionary: Con’ se-quence,  n.—that which follows as the result of some preceding act, cause, etc.

For the Slider family the act was Bob’s driving into the side of a new Toyota as he parked his truck. The cause was his having taken too many prescription pain pills that had severely dulled his senses. Did this just affect Bob? Not quite. Consequences oftentimes have this insidious ability to give birth to tentacles that reach out and wrap themselves around others in an unexpected and seemingly inescapable grip, clutching so tightly that the person(s) trapped have no idea how to break free. It also follows that the first people these tentacles reach out for are those closest to the person who had activated the whole process, in this case Tracey and Jake.

Having one vehicle had been sufficient for Tracey to get back and forth to her part time job, for Bob to go back and forth for doctor visits and his 3x a week physical therapy treatments plus, get Jake to his after school activities, winter baseball practices and weekend games. Now it was all on Tracey. She had to somehow get her husband and her son to where they were supposed to be and still be at work. It was a daunting, almost impossible task. The consequences of Bob’s Halloween “fender-bender” included his having to put in three hours a week of community service (which he was able to do at the St. Vincent De Paul Thrift Store) sorting and separating donated clothing. He needed 50 hours so this was, at best, a 17 week commitment. He also had to go to DUI class, the “Law & Substance Abuse Program”, get to physical therapy and, of course, report to his parole officer once a week. .

Tracey managed, after some serious pleading, to get her manager to let her begin working from  6:a.m to 11: a.m. Thursday through Sunday. This gave her Monday through Wednesday to schedule Bob’s probation requirements and PT appointments. It was, to say the least, a tenuous arrangement. Bob had to be somewhere at least four times a week. Since his dad’s appointments were “absolutely necessary” to keep, Jake was forced to quit playing winter baseball. There was no way Tracey could get him back and forth to practices and games,  get her husband to his various appointments, get to work, run errands, and do all of the other things that take place outside of the home.

Jake took this very hard. He tried to understand but he didn’t. Baseball meant so much to him. It ain’t fair. How could they let this happen. It ain’t fair. It really was not the baseball. After all,  it was only winter-ball, sort of an instuctional league where the kids prepared for the regular season. It was just the catalyst that drove the boy’s feelings to the surface and these feelings began to exhibit themselves through a sullenness, a drop in grades and, in a few instances, by playing “hooky”.

Tracey, like her son, was slowly developing an unwanted bitterness towards her husband, the man she had truly loved since high school. She had the inner strength to deal with all the adversity, confusion, tension,  financial chaos, and the mountain of uncertainty that had entered her life over the past year. What was seeping into her psyche was that Bob had turned himself into a “victim” and had climbed upon a train called the “Pity Party Express”. This journey that he had embarked upon was like a slowly moving knife, cutting deeper and deeper into his wife. Bob had no idea and could not see past  himself or his need for “medication”.

Next time: “Here come the Holidays”I

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