Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Can good people do bad things?

Before we go any further, please disregard the ridiculously drunk guy in the red jacket. In the far left of this picture is Ron Williams. In the far right is Justin Havens. I had met Ron maybe 3 or 4 times and thought he was an okay guy. Justin had been a good friend and co-worker of mine for going on 9 months.

Both were arrested last week on a myriad of charges, including burglary, grand larceny, armed robbery, and conspiracy. Click here to read a report from local newspaper the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.

With Justin being a friend, obviously this was a big subject of discussion among those of us who worked with him. The general mood was that of shock. How could somebody who was such a nice guy do something so horrible?

We all know the answer, and it is not an uncommon one in this area - drugs. Drugs can make good people become somebody who they are not. They can make people do bad things for what they feel like they need. Drugs made Ron and Justin stage a robbery. According to the article, Justin and a woman were hanging out together when a masked man robbed them at gunpoint. After their arrest, they apparently confessed to Ron robbing them and then splitting the "loot" with Justin.

I first met Justin in late January or early February. I instantly liked him. He was very charismatic and helped me out with my new job duties. Fairly early on, though, I noticed that he and a few others around me had some issues with prescription pill abuse. It happens. Recreational drug use is something that seems fun at first. I've tried it. Snorting a pill up my nose wasn't as fun as I thought it would be, so I stopped after a few times. So, I understand why people will try it. Curiosity and boredom can be a dangerous mixture.

There were more than a few occasions at work when somebody would come up to me and say, "Am I the only one who notices how fucked up Havens is?" And then I would study him for a second and see the glassed-over eyes and a body seemingly running in slow motion. So, I saw him at what looked like his worst. And I also saw him at what I thought was his best - a funny, nice, friendly, happy guy.

What is most troubling about all of this is that Justin looked like he had been doing better with his issues. He started hanging out at the bar more often with us, something he didn't do as often (because you don't need to drink if you're on other stuff). He had started working in an assistant coaching capacity with his local high school football team. He loved talking about working with those kids and I could tell that he genuinely enjoyed it.

I tweeted a few weeks back that I had one of my top 5 favorite days of work ever. The reason for that was largely due to Justin Havens. It was a slow work day, so myself and my usual gang of friends were goofing off. What made it different was that Justin was involved in the shenanigans. Seeing him, for lack of a better term, act like us was hilarious and made for a memorable night.

What troubles me is that while he was helping me have one of my best days of work ever, he was allegedly helping orchestrate a string of robberies throughout the area to help support his drug habit. It's such a positive memory somewhat tainted by negative thoughts.

A question that comes up a lot is whether or not good people can do bad things, or if they're just bad people. Do bad people exist? Or are they just good people under bad circumstances? Do I still like Justin Havens? Yes, I do. He's my friend and you don't stop liking somebody just because something bad happens. Do I trust him? I don't think I do right now. He was doing some bad things behind our backs.

Is he a bad person? It depends on where he goes from here. I would like to see he and Ron come out of this situation for the better. What they did was wrong and I'm sure they both know that. From what I saw of Ron, I liked him. I really like Justin a lot. I want them to both be okay and hopefully they will be.


  1. Perfectly put Slater. I think Havens is an awesome guy who did some really bad stuff. Thank God only his record was hurt and he got caught before he or anyone else could be seriously injured. I just pray that he can now get the help he needs. This was a big wake up call for me. It's so easy to just believe that everything's fine when they seem OK. But we, as members of the human race, need to be more connected and reach out when we know in our gut that something is wrong. Prescription drug abuse is NOT OK. Be there for your friends, hold each other accountable, ask the hard questions, dont be afraid to make someone mad. All of these are valuable lessons. I know it feels like he let us down, but we saw him struggling, and he obviously wasnt able to help himself. Where was I? Let's not abandon him in his most desperate times. Let's be there for him and be the strength he needs. Miss u CHRIS!!! and btw, ur an awesome blogger!!

  2. Thank you for the comment, Tara. I miss you too!

    And, you're right, this is definitely a wakeup call to everybody that things are not always as they seem. Just because it looks like somebody is doing well with something they might not really be.

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  4. Here Here Chris. Very well put.