About Utah: A stranded traveler no longer

SALT LAKE CITY — The email pinged into my inbox with no warning: “Years ago you spoke with me on the streets of downtown Salt Lake City. I was conning people out of money. Saying I was stranded and needed to get home. When you confronted me I told you that most of the people asking for money on the street were heroin addicts. I believe that you wrote an article for the paper on this a few days later. For me this was a lifetime ago. I was a reckless, sad, lost child. Many things have transpired in my life since then. I am drug and alcohol free and have been so for over 5 years. I am a case manager who works with the homeless population here in Salt Lake. I am doing what I can to give back to the community from which I took so much. “Our brief conversation and the few other encounters that we had afterward have stuck with me over the years. I’m not sure why. I would very much like to buy you lunch and talk with you. If you are not interested I understand. If you would like to chat you can email me or call my cellphone. If I don’t answer leave a message and I will get back with you. If not let me wish you blessings. “Sausha Douglas Lovell”

It was mid-May when we met on the street. He said he was stranded and needed help. The problem was, he’d been using that same line for weeks. I called him on it, and for some reason he came clean, not only about his own drug addiction but about most everyone else begging on the street. They didn’t need food, he said, they needed heroin.

I wrote a column, “Dialogue with a stranded traveler,” that ran May 19, 2002.

I remember when we talked I found his story all the sadder because he was oozing with personality and charisma. I told my kids and co-workers at the office about him. In the back of my mind he never really left. And now he was back.

To hear he was off heroin and had turned his life around to the point he was helping others …


In a second.

We met at the Blue Lemon at City Creek, around the corner from where we talked in 2002. I ordered a salad. So did he.

I tried to buy. He insisted I couldn’t.

Sausha is 46 now and at least 30 pounds heavier than the last time we saw each other. Most of his hair is gone. I wouldn’t have recognized him in a thousand years — until he started to talk. And there it was, the same patter, the same charm, the same personality that kept that heroin habit funded year after year.

The column hurt business, he told me. After that, some passers-bys told him, “Oh no, buddy, I read about you, not giving you a dime.” That and trouble with the police got him out of …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Top stories


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