Pubdate: Fri, 15 Mar 2002
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Copyright: 2002 The Baltimore Sun, a Times Mirror Newspaper.
Author: Dan Rodricks
Bookmark: (Treatment)


A MAN NAMED Robert pulled up next to me on a courthouse bench to tell 
how he got into a fight with a guy in front of Lexington Market and 
wound up at Central Booking and, while going through intake, a surly 
corrections officer threw away Robert's weekend, take-home supply of 

I was sympathetic about the methadone. I don't know why anyone would 
deprive a recovering heroin addict of that medication, even while 
incarcerated. We wouldn't deprive him of insulin if he were a 
diabetic, would we?

But, that point aside, as I listened to more of Robert's story, I 
found my sympathy waning. After his brief stint in jail, where did he 
go? He went back to Lexington Market. What did he find there? More 
trouble. He found "hoppers who wanted to beat me up," drug addicts 
who wanted to exact revenge for Robert's role in the earlier 

As I listened to Robert tell the story -- the next part was about how 
he got a knife and stuck it in his gym bag for protection and some 
teen-age fink saw him and reported the concealed weapon to police -- 
my mind wandered to the gorgeous fresh fish display at Faidley's.

And the fried clams and steamed shrimp at the Crab Pot.

And the stacks of fried chicken and western fries.

And the incredible array of Asian food at too many stalls to mention, 
and the mounds of produce and cold fruit salad. I thought of the 
devil's-food cake at Muhly's, and the perfectly roasted turkeys 
inside glass cases.

I thought of all that's great and good about Lexington Market, and 
how it's a shame that guys like Robert cannot visit the place without 
incident. Or find a good book and go read it in a park somewhere. Or 
find a job that would occupy more of their time. Or, at the very 
least, buy a lunch -- say, the $2.80 lo mein and teriyaki chicken 
special I found in the Lexington Market arcade the other day -- and 
take it elsewhere.


All easier said.

Drug addicts rarely manage to seek, find and keep steady employment. 
The ones who get into treatment find the passage from addiction to 
recovery difficult, with jobs hard to secure, friends from the old 
life clinging, and relapse always a threat. Until the passage to new 
life is complete, and recovering addicts find work and adequate 
housing, a lot of the old hoppers are limited to roaming the city 
streets, and seeing way too much of each other. Bad things happen as 
a result, and men such as Robert, who keep returning to old haunts 
and keep messing up, make it harder for the rest of us to enjoy 
certain places, such as Lexington Market.

Still, Robert's sordid story aside, things are a lot better around 
the market than they were just a few years ago -- just as it's also 
true that thousands more Baltimoreans are getting treatment for drug 
addiction. There is a connection. There is hope.

I keep returning to this theme -- clean up the drug addiction and you 
save the city -- but there's nothing, day by day in Baltimore, that 
seems more true or more constant.

As for Robert, I offer my consolation on what happened to your 
take-homes. But, please, for your own sake, and the sake of all who 
hold Baltimore dear, get a new life.
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