Late Thursday afternoon I was wandering around the CBD in Saigon, called District 1, camera in hand. It was 5.30pm and the sun was setting. As I walked up a main street opposite the national law court building a guy rode past me on a motorbike on the footpath. Nothing unusual in that here. He stopped 20 metres ahead, in front of a woman who was sitting on the footpath with her back to the wall, literally, as it would soon become apparent. The street was jam packed with peak hour traffic, motorbikes 10 deep and a mile long.
There was a brief exchange between the two and as I came level the guy fished in a plastic garbage bag he was carrying and handed the woman a syringe.
Oblivious to, or uncaring about my presence, the woman promptly pulled up her sleeve and injected herself right in front of me.
The dealer glanced nervously from my camera to me and back to my camera. I wanted to make a photograph but decided that discretion was the better part of valor, and kept walking, barely believing what I had just witnessed. The whole scene played out in a matter of seconds.
I guess the same thing happens every day on the streets of New York or Sydney or anywhere else, and I guess I should not have been surprised, but it made my skin creep, and it made me angry. Angry at the user for falling so low, angry at the dealer for his "slow death on the installment plan" delivery service, and angry at all of the higher ups, however long that piece of string might be.
I guess I should not be surprised and I suppose that makes me naive. I have often thought of drug users as weak, and I suppose that makes me arrogant.
In my own life I have had my share of troubles, as we all do, but thankfully nothing that two glasses of wine and a good night sleep usually didn't fix, and I suppose that makes me lucky.
I will be counting my Blessing's for some time.