How many times have you seen syringes lying around?
It’s happened to me three times.
The first was along one of the main streets in my town as I pushed a stroller. It appeared to be wedged between the curb and the edge of the pavement. I’ve gotten plenty of shots in doctor’s offices but, for obvious reasons, I never really look at the equipment. So when I approached this discarded medical waste, it was smaller than I thought it should be. It was partially obscured, but I wasn’t going to inspect it any more closely. Executing a 180-degree turn, I proceeded right back the way I had come. I did not walk that route again until I had seen that the street sweepers had been by. There was always lingering guilt that I didn’t report my suspicion of a potential hazard. I resolved, repeatedly, to do better next time.
That opportunity came soon enough.
Along a different section of another busy road, as I was again walking with a stroller, I noticed two syringes lying in the middle of the sidewalk. There was no question this time. I could clearly see the orange stoppers and the thin black lines marking the dosages. I cut a huge swath around them and returned home. Once there, I banished my sneakers to the back of the cellar and called my husband, the state trooper. After the last sighting, he had informed me that the local police deal with this kind of thing regularly.
“They’ll take you more seriously,” I told him. “You call the local station now. Before school lets out and kids are walking down that sidewalk.”
“Yes, dear,” he sighed.
I waited 15 minutes and then drove by the spot, slowing down with my hazard lights on, to check. I didn’t see anything as I passed in either direction. I felt better.
But I still tossed those shoes.
The third time was in the parking lot at the mall, near the Macy’s entrance. I had gone around to the trunk and was removing the collapsible stroller (how come syringes and strollers seem to go together for me?) when my eye caught the glistening hard plastic cylinder on the wet pavement. I returned the carriage, which had not even touched the ground yet, thank God, to the car and drove clear to the other side of the shopping center, by the Lord and Taylor. Once inside, I hiked all the way back to Macy’s and promptly notified the first sales associate I came across. She was impeccably dressed with a gorgeous scarf artfully draped around her neck and shoulders. My news appropriately horrified her and she vowed to have it taken care of immediately.
For some reason, that assurance wasn’t enough for me, so I also went to the main security desk. Despite telling him twice, the uniformed guard I spoke to was very unconcerned. It seemed this was a regular occurrence.
“Yeah, I’ll call maintenance,” he said reaching for his radio.
I stood watching, to make sure he properly identified the location.
“Yep,” came a voice through the static.
That was about eleven years ago and still haven’t parked by Macy’s.
Just in case.