en.cum.ber To restrict. To impose upon.
Unencumbered is always better! What flight of fancy am I on today? Same as every day Pinky!
Each day that passes adds more gravity to my message, that’s why I usually beat you over the head with it. As I pensively stroke my chin hairs it occurs that you, gentle reader, know only a fraction of your scribe. My running side mostly and my gardening side recently.
But man, there’s so much more. And now that this blog is free of any oversight other than my own, I’m free to reveal as much as I care about my fascinating life. I’ll be 59 in just a couple of weeks and many of my years have been packed with unique, entertaining and unusual experiences.
1992. Will County Health Dept. I’m a fresh hire with a sparkly new B.S. in Community Health Promotion from NIU. First week there, trailing my trainer Sue. Grabs me just prior to quitting time, we drive to 1313 Mockingbird Lane, don our hazmat suits, meet the Will Co. Sheriff’s dept. Possible deceased investigation. House completely overgrown with weeds and brush and trees, crumbling stairs to the front door, unanswered knocks. Cop #1 shoulders the door in, we enter, the house dark as night due to what? Stacks of everything everywhere, a narrow path leading to a kitchen with no ceiling. Records indicate no water/sewer service to the address for the last 7 years. A stack of unserved administrative warrants on file. We call the gentleman’s name out as we wind through a lifetime’s collection of newspapers, books, wrappers, bags, boxes, cans, every manner of detritus imaginable from floor to ceiling.
Winding our way up a staircase to the upper halls. Reach a platform, turn left, flashlights illuminating bars. Next a blood curdling scream. The two cops and the two health inspectors just about messing drawers. And then it hit the bars, shaking the whole area. Eyes jaundiced and huge yellowed teeth, I swore they were fangs. A macaque, its jungle the jailed in master bed room. Cop up front with the flashlight, then Sue, then me, then cop #2, he yelling “Light that son of a bitch up!”, cop #1 unholstering……..
“No!” “Don’t shoot!” A weak voice from the shadows. The old man we’d thought dead, in a little cubby just this side of the bars. Had worked at the local paper mill for over 60 years. Put in paperwork for vacation, it got lost in a shuffle, he doesn’t show for work, they call the cops, and that’s why we were there.
We quickly assess. Old man is sitting on a bed. With barely enough room otherwise to move. The cubby completely filled with jugged urine and canned (Folgers, It’s Mountain Grown!) feces. He pleads for the life of the macaque. “It’s not Elsie’s fault!” “Please don’t shoot!” “Elsie, I’m so sorry!”. Wild animal in city limits added to the long list of health dept. violations. Call made to humane society for pick up. They recommend sedation. Old man begs to carry the primate to their truck without. The two entwined in deep embrace down the stairs, he crying loudly, apologizing, sobbing, truly heartbreaking. “Elsie, Elsie, Elsie, I’m so sorry!”
As we exit the house I’m handed a bright yellow Condemned sticker, slapped it on the window. Another vehicle pulls up, fellas wearing white coats from the 4th floor over at Jefferson Hospital (cuckoo’s nest). As we watch the old man carefully place Elsie into the box on the truck, our collective jaws drop when we realize Elsie is a rather aroused male.
I almost left the health dept. that day, not two weeks in. I’d end up staying another 120 days or so, why I left another…..