“Hey Pat,“I’m writing about the Ward 6 race for school and would love to have a cup of coffee with you sometime next week. Let me know if you have any times available for that.”
I’d met the bright young man a couple of weeks before and he had told me he was interested in how government worked. We spoke for a while, talked about his family, about his daughter, and he had shown keen insight about why people might run for office.
“I’d love to.Please call me at your convenience. I often take Hayley to school on Tuesday and/or Thursday.”
So we had a cup of coffee and talked about the difference between school board, city, county and state government. Like many people he had not known the nuances or even the striking differences between the responsibilities and revenue sources that exist at different governing levels. We spoke more about his family. He was so proud of his daughter.
He wrote the paper and gave me a copy. It gave me fresh insights on how people thought about their elected officials that helped me tremendously with my door to door campaign for City Council in 2010.
He felt he owed me something for the interview, but I let him know it was quite the contrary—I owed him a debt of gratitude. “Call me any time you think I can help…” I let him know that I could be a resource for him.
Then this, earlier this month, at about 1:30 am when I was wrapping up some details of the North Eugene County Commissioner race, on my Facebook Chat:
“Hey, Pat, you there?”
“Yes, congratulations.” I’d heard he had gotten engaged.
But he didn’t need congratulations that night, he needed help,
“I’m having some real psychological issues aside from all that. I would like to talk to you. I don’t know if it’s enough. I moved the furniture to to bloack off my parest from being able to come out of their roon. They put me on celexa”
We corresponded back and forth for a half hour as I determined the depth of the crisis.
He was having trouble with alcohol and his doctor was switching his antidepressant medication, so there was a period where he couldn’t take the medication.
He had been drinking–a lot.
I had told him to call if he needed help, and now he needed it. We spoke on line for a couple of hours and then by phone. He was fully despondent.During our phone conversation I realized this was a deep crisis and I had been his only outreach.
We spoke, and the key to settling him down was his daughter. I reminded him of her and of how proud he was of her. He calmed down and unblocked his parents’ room (they hadn’t woke up.)
Talk of his pride and joy, his little girl, had given him some hope.
The next day I picked him up and we went out for ice cream.
He’s ok now, but how many young people find themselves without a life-line in a situation like this?
For some reason, I was on line, and for some reason he contacted me.
It made me realize the minutia of finding words about bus transit and land use pales in the face of a true life crisis being faced by a bright young man.