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Stats & Data

August 14, 2009


There are over 4,000,000 Americans either on parole or probation or are currently incarcerated in a jail or prison. Around a third of those Americans were convicted on drug offenses, the majority of which were drug trafficking charges followed by possession. Drug charges account for nearly 80% of the increase in prison/parole population since the 1980's when the "War on Drugs" really kicked into gear. 

A recent NPR story covering the results of a study conducted in China reported that just by handling money a person experiences less pain. (The story can be read here http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=111579154&ft=1&f=1001 ) The story suggests that these effects are akin to similar reactions our bodies have towards taking pain medication... drugs.

My head was hurting when I woke up this morning so I decided to run my fingers through my large coin collection by the side of my bed. I really should say change collection because the word coin might bring images of Spanish deblumes or mis-mints from days of yore, but really its just a bunch of nickels, dimes, and quarters all hailing from the depths of my pockets. Really it wasn't much of a collection either. At last count it was just under 67 dollars so must be around 68 because its only been a day and I count it ever other day and at the count before last it was around 65 dollars.

The effects this stroking had on my head pain wasn't immediate. I was well into my morning routine before I had noticed there had been a slight degradation of the pounding i had awoke with. I say pounding because my favorite way to describe the intensity of a headache is by comparing it to a large animal and its manifestation in my brain. By the time I was pulling on my business causal style shirt, it had buttons, the Elephants stampede in my skull had been downgraded to a march.

Periodically for the rest of the morning I would stop by my change collection and let a few handfuls fall through my fingers. Normally the sound of metal on metal would cause my headaches to flare, but there was something magical about the sound of dimes hitting quarters. It was almost like someone from far away, perhaps through a large tin cylinder, was saying "Its going to be alright". By the time I was grabbing my keys to head out the door the Elephants were just finishing up Swan Lake to a standing ovation of neurons. The coins and I had won.

I whistled a tune as I skipped to the train stop. Everything seemed to fall into rhythm with my song. The turn of the turn style the beeping of commuter passes. As I approached the entrance this little diddy needed a triplet so I passed my card along each of the three turn styles. Beep. Beep. Beep. With a tip of my hat, which was not actually on my head, I entered. As I waited for the train the sun shining brightly on my face I thought of what a great day it would most definitely be.

Then all of a sudden like a flash the Elephants were taking the stage again, but their leotards and pointy shoes had been replaced with leather pants and over sized electric guitars. The platform began to spin as the pain grew. I looked for the exit but the train had pulled up and I mistakenly rushed into the opening door thinking it was the way out back to my change. I stumbled into a seat. Actually i stumbled onto a person in a seat. Images of large pachyderms smashing a drum kit while one screamed "It's not going to be alright" into a microphone flicked through my head. The doors closed. I tried imagining swimming in a pool of gold coins and it began to ease my suffering until Scrooge McDuck showed up and told me to get the fuck out of his money pool.

I began sweating and then came the convulsions, everyone in the train car began exiting through the door that reads only open in an emergency, which you couldn't fault them for opening because by all means this was one. I crumpled further into my seat. The end was near, but whats this? I felt something under me, something square and in a back pocket, something that held the key to me pulling through. I grabbed and groped my ass to free my wallet from my pants. I hastily clawed away attempting to open it, but it was a trifold, a cursed trifold. I threw it to the floor and stomped and stomped it until... there he was, Andrew Jackson freed from his cage.

The Elephants stood still. I bent down and gently scooped Andy up, or Drew, not sure what his closest friends would of called him but I felt comfortable calling him it because at that moment he was the bestest friend I had ever had. In my renewed state I properly unfolded the trifold and took out my remaining saviors. I clenched them in my hands rubbing them against my hot wet cheeks. To tell you I didn't want to lay a kiss on every one of them would be a lie, and I would of done so if one of those damn Elephants hadn't started signaling for the landing of a 747 full of Elephants ready to compete in a step competetion.

I wept. The doors of the train opened. I looked up to take in my final image of this earth and there it was above a convenient store window. It read ATM in large glowing letters that shined brighter than the morning sun. I cast away the useless Jacksons, they were no good to me anymore. Visa, and Mastercard would save me now.