May 20, 2007

Down and Out in Toledo

(Toledo, OH) At first pass I thought the sleeping young man on the bench at Secor and Laskey was waiting for the bus, although the actual bus stop is some thirty feet south of the ill-placed advertising benches. After several hours elapsed, though, it became clear that this person was sleeping on the bench because this had been his home for the night.

A closer examination of my photographic subject reveals a few details, like his multiple layers of clothing and his use of extra clothes as a pillow. The young man's boots appear to be laced with clothesline, and his generally disheveled appearance suggests that his clothing has been more than a few days without going through a washing machine.

This person has a number of open sores on his skin, and you can see one just above the bracelets he has on his right arm. Such skin infections are the hallmark of methamphetamine addiction, though we of course cannot jump to the conclusion our subject is a meth addict.

My efforts to strike a conversation with the slumbering man were unsuccessful, and I decided the best course of action was to let him sleep off whatever was fueling his heavy somnolence, and I found the advertising slogan above the young man's head to be bitter irony.


Anonymous said...

That looks like another meth-sore on his right temple, Mike. Got a neighbor here in SA-TX he'd be perfect for!


Roo said...

Mike, this is a great shot. Irony at its best. And a sobering social commentary - complete with visual support.

I would wager that this young man has some type of 'dependency' problem that is outside the boundaries of the legal system. Unfortunately he is not the only victim.

The photo makes me wonder where did this young man come from? where is he going? how did he get here? what is his history? who does he belong to (family)? what will tomorrow hold for him?

While I can't condone substance abuse/use, I can be empathetic to the situations that sometimes lead people to the devil's door.

-Sepp said...

Grayish teeth are another tell tale sign of meth addiction. Keep in mind that heroin has come back in full force in our area too.

historymike said...

Could be, JD. If I see him again I'll tell him about the dating prospects in San Antonio.

historymike said...

Thanks, Roo. I wonder about the same things, and what sequence of events led to this situation.

historymike said...

Noted, Sepp. I didn't get a look at his teeth, but heroin is just as likely a possibility as any other.

microdot said...

Methedrine is a home made American problem, but let's ask ourselves, where does all this heroin come from and how does so much of it get so easily past our borders?

M A F said...

The photograph certainly offers up a sense of the ironic on several levels...

Teeth discoloration is one sign of meth use, so to is the rapid loss of teeth. The same applies to crack use.

Mike, a friend is an avid photographer who approaches people like the fellow on the bench and asks for permission before he photographs them. Sometimes he kicks down a buck or two. And oddly enough they open up to him.

Of course, I like to tease him, give him a hard time for "exploiting the impoverished for his craft."