By Representative David Yacovone, (D-Morristown)
There are moments and interactions we experience that we never forget. Here is mine:
I was on my way out the door of a local restaurant with my take-out order when a fellow, who I will call John, sitting in the corner, waved me over toward him. It was dimly lit, and I had a hard time recognizing whether I knew him or not. He pulled on my jacket sleeve for me to sit down. I did so reluctantly only because I didn’t want the take-out order I had for my family to grow cold.
“Hey, you’re Dave Yacovone, right?” I nodded and made a weak smile, not sure what was coming next. “Can you give me a thousand bucks; I need some help.” Jokingly, I said I wasn’t Santa Claus and started to get up. He did not let go of my sleeve. “Wait a minute, you guys are all on the take down there in Montpelier! You got the money! Don’t give me that!”
After a conversation about how legislators are not “on the take”, the discussion shifted a bit to what was really troubling him. He shared that his wife had left him, he was behind on child support payments, and he owed his landlord money he did not have. There was a part of me that wanted to confront him on his money woes. After all, he could spend money at the bar. I fought the urge to judge. He made it clear that bourbon was his best friend.
He alluded to what was a horrific upbringing at the hands of his father. I imagined the toxic stress he endured and the vicious toll of untreated adverse childhood experiences. John went on to say he felt like he did not belong, like he did not matter to anyone. All the warning signs were flashing red. He said he just wanted to be happy.
Then, as quickly as he had called me over, he abruptly shut me off, and told me if I didn’t have any money to help him, to get lost. I looped back to the bar tender and told him I was worried about John. The bartender told me that he was a regular, and that he would be okay. Weeks later, I was excited to help John get his unemployment checks processed and to learn he was still in the game, so to speak.
How I wish I could introduce legislation to help all the lost souls like John. To help the homeless, the addicted, the hungry, the unsettled, all those who struggle so. If only there was a law to help, it would be so easy. Life for many is not easy.