No. of Recommendations: 61
Today, I was drafted.

I went with a team of city personnel to an elderly woman's house, at the request of her grown children. I'm with Buildings, the others were with Police, Fire, Health, and Law. The lawyer had the search warrant, but the police and fire captain talked us in without much fuss.

Margaret is a hoarder, the worst that any of us have seen. And while I've been in houses that were more biologically vile, this one was stuffed to the gills. No pathways at all; we had to climb. The trash was compacted to a level higher than four feet in the entryway, and more than five feet in the rest of the house. Some rooms could only be crossed by crawling within reach of the ceiling. The only person who explored the basement crawled on his belly, practically bumping his head on the floor joists above. Margaret sleeps in a depression in the trash, and uses the bathtub for her toilet. She can't open her refrigerator; it's up to its eyeballs in compacted "stuff". She can't fix her failed furnace because no one can get to it.

Before the afternoon was over, a socialworker from a local hospital arrived, and Margaret was taken to the hospital's psych ward in a patrol car. She was lucid, articulate, and intelligent, told us that we were irritating her and she didn't like what we were doing. And the fire captain, bless him, said "We don't like it either, Mrs. S., but you're not safe here." I doubt that they can hold her in the hospital for long; she isn't crazy, out of context.

And then I waited for the board up crew to come and do an emergency barricade. No criminal in his right mind would break in. But Margaret won't be allowed back in her own home until the City says it's safe. And only then after her lifetime accumulation of stuff has been removed, one dumpsterful at a time.

So I came home. Sorted out two more boxes of books for the library. Decided I needed space, more than another craft project, and pitched the ingredients. Emptied the laundry basket, put away some linens, cleared a few square feet of "stuff". Sat down. Posted here.

My name is Margaret too.


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