A friend of mine killed a motorcyclist Sunday night. He was so out of it, either on beer, vodka, blow, crack, meth or god only knows what, that he simply drove into the young biker from behind on Route 9W, fast enough to squash him dead. Early word was that Jack left the scene, but if so, it was probably only because he was in a stupor, since at least the police don't seem to be charging him with that. He is in the county jail, though. Everybody in our small town knows that Jack is a doper and a drunk. He's the genial alcoholic still drawing from the reservoir of sympathy established when his own 16-year-old son died instantly in a car-versus-tree accident while racing a friend on a dark back road. It was long enough ago that my wife, who biked past the tree yesterday, said the “shrine” is gone— a football, a deflated party balloon, a small white cross, some faded we'll-miss-you-Bobby signs. At least we kicked Jack out of the ambulance corps, where he was one of our drivers. But there was even argument about that. Could we do it without proof, without specific evidence? Well, how about numerous arrests both for DWI and possession? Yeah, but… One of the frequent arguments against permanently suspending a confirmed drunk's license is that you're removing his or her livelihood. You're turning them into a contractor without a pickup, an appliance repairman without a van full of tools, a commuter stranded 30 miles from work. Last week, I watched the cleaning lady from our fancy health club climb wearily into a taxi in front of the gym's big marquee. I barely knew there were cabs in our small town, but the cleaning lady apparently couldn't afford a car and paid fares twice a day to get to and from work. Maybe the suddenly truckless contractor needs to find a new line of work and call a cab. I'm sure at least one 20-year-old motorcyclist would have agreed.
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