Il Ladro di Bicicletta
Il Ladro di Bicicletta
Yesterday I faced a really big dilemma. I was at the hospital talking with a woman who is in total denial of her HIV status. The hospital social worker called us and asked us to come over and talk with her about getting her daughter tested and also about trying to convince her to take her ARVs. Normally, our nurse would go over to talk with her, but our nurse was in Corazol for the day, so they asked me to go. As I was biking over to the hospital, I was thinking, ‘what the heck am I doing!?!? I am not qualified for this!!’ I got there the nurse was ready to send me in immediately (the daughter was admitted to the pediatric ward and the mother was in there with her). I had to tell the nurse that I could use a little more information on the situation---seriously, she was just going to send me in and I had no idea what I was doing! The mom is in denial of her status and looks to be in pretty bad shape and while the daughter is in the hospital, the nurses wanted to get her tested so she could start receiving meds if she were positive. Okay. Fine. I still had no game plan but went to a meeting room and met with the nurse and the mom. I started just by saying I worked with Hand in Hand Ministries and explained a little about the center for the kids. She wouldn’t shake my hand or even really look at me. When I got to the part about HIV/AIDS, she started saying “no no, my baby clean. My baby no sick, my baby clean.’ Over and over. We went round and round to explain that we wanted to be sure that her baby was not sick so we wanted to do this test. No luck. Then we started talking about family and other things and she was VERY hard to understand because she was talking creole and her speech was really slurred (not because she was under the influence, but because she only had one tooth and poor pronunciation). We finally got back to the test after talking in circles for a while, and I told her that I knew it was really really scary to get this test and it was okay to be scared and I would sit and wait with her the whole time. I don’t know if that’s what did it, but she agreed. Phew. The nurse went to go get the paper and the mom said she had to go buy something and went out of the hospital! I was so scared that she wasn’t going to return and she hadn’t signed the consent form yet! But she did come back just a few minutes later. The test was only supposed to take 10 minutes but of course, no one could find the woman who administered the test and I ended up being there for a few hours. I talked some with the mom, but she is pretty sick and has no energy, so she rested a bit too. The results came back negative, which is fabulous, and the mom was so happy. She was lying in a cot near her daughter’s crib and didn’t want to talk, so I told her I was also happy and left. That, my friends, is not the big dilemma I faced. But I wanted to share that because that’s where my mind was when this next situation happened. I came out of KHMH (the hospital fondly known as Kill Him, Murder Her—KHMH, very well respected place….) and went to unlock my bike. My bike lock had been almost completely cut through! I was confused as to why someone would stop when seriously, the lock was almost totally cut, but thought to myself “wow, this is going to be funny when I tell my roommates that someone almost thieved my bike.” A KHMH security guy then approached me and asked if that was, indeed, my bike and when I replied in the affirmative, he said “you’re lucky I needed a walk!” He was taking a break from sitting in front of the building and needed a walk (even though his job is security and I would guess that the security of the bike rack DIRECTLY in front of the doors would apply to that position). Luckily, he saw someone trying to cut my bike lock and called the police. He told me that I had to go to the police station and make a report. WHAT!?! I don’t know that I can clearly convey the randomness that I faced when the security guy is telling me how lucky I was that he needed a walk and how I now had to go to the police station to make a report because they caught they guy and they’re waiting for me. What. Okay, I bike on over to the police station and take my bike inside because I no longer have a lock to leave it outside, and they good people inside say, “it’s the lady with the bike!” too funny. I bring my bike into the police officer’s office and he tells me that they have the guy down the hall (!?!?) and do I want to press charges? Umm…I’m sorry, what!? What does that even mean here!?! He says if I don’t press charges, they let him go. Meaning to me, that if I do press charges, they do NOT let him go. Right. So I apparently look confused because the officer offers me some more info. he had a beat up backpack on his desk from which he pulls out giant wire cutters and says, ‘he used these.’ Um…okay. He then shows me a lock that was completely cut through and says that there were two thieves and one of them cut through that lock and rode away on the bike before they could catch him. Again he says, do you want to press charges. I ask what exactly that means and he starts with “well, you would go to court and testify…” and I interrupt and say, no no, I don’t think I want to do that. The officer says, we have two witnesses plus you and all you would have to do would be to come in and say this was your bike. Essentially, this guy is going to prison if I press charges. Which, coincidentally, is where my roommate adam works! Another officer comes in and says some joke about hattieville (which is where the prison is located) and all I could think of was that I would be sending this kid to prison! That’s not okay! I ask if that is my only option. The officer says, well, do you want the price of your lock back? I think, yes, this is the first logical thing I’ve heard yet and yes that is exactly what I want and nothing more. Great. The officer says “well, you just have to sue him and….” What—I don’t want to SUE anyone!!!! I ask the officers what they think I should do, since I really don’t know what would be the right thing to do here. I explained that I’m fairly new here and they know more about this sort of thing than i. The second officer tells me that he can’t force me to do anything but he really thinks I should press charges…. the kid was in last week because he stole his mother’s cell phone….he’ll be in again…and miss, I’m sorry to say this but he could hurt someone….next time he could hurt you or hurt me….i can’t make you do anything, but I would press charges….
Right…everything is much clearer now. I was leaning towards not pressing charges, oh, because sending people to prison is not really my thing, and now I feel TERRIBLE and GUILTY and still don’t want to send him to prison. Another hard thing was that he didn’t actually thieve my bike---he thieved someone else’s, yep, sure did, but I was riding mine and would be riding right on home from the police station. So how could I send a kid to prison for not thieving my bike!?!? But he totally did thieve someone else’s! you see the dilemma I faced!?!? I wanted to ask the officer’s if I could make one phone call and call adam and say ‘WHAT THE HELL SHOULD I DO?’ I felt like I just didn’t have enough information about anything—about the procedure, the courts and whatnot, about life here, about the best thing to do….I ended up not pressing charges and the police were terribly disappointed with me. I felt so conflicted, but I also knew from the beginning that I wasn’t going to press charges. when I went back to work, everyone there told me they would have pressed charges. great. But when I went home, my roommates said they wouldn’t have, which made me feel like I was, in fact, a sane person and didn’t disappoint the whole of Belize. So that was my dilemma. I’m interested to hear what you all think and what you think you might have done.