Among the calls that I really hate are those that come from a detective asking, "Hey, could you check the jail records and see if [Insert Name Here] ever listed a next of kin?"
Everyone knows the name, because the man attached to it has been arrested several hundred times in the last five years. And that's not hyperbole.
Public Intoxication, mostly, but a significant number of Inhalant Abuse charges, and Criminal Trespass -- because the local stores got tired of him shoplifting aerosol paint and barred him from entering.
He always came to jail either stoned and friendly, or stoned and fighting, filthy and stinking. He'd detox for about a week, and then he was a mousy little grey man unnoticed in General Population, or occasionally as a trustee.
He'd go to trial with a Public Defender, his charges would be pled to Time Served and then he'd be released to go back to his little camp under the river bridge on the edge of town. Usually shoplifting a can of Krylon on the way.
He never listed any next of kin, never had any visitors. Older personnel seem to remember a brother, but no one can nail anything down.
I know that dying is the ultimate lonely experience. No matter how many people are with you on this side, or the other -- death is a one-person doorway.
Still, it just seems to me a terrible tragedy that the only people to know of, or care, about this man's passing are patrol officers and jail staff.
That he'll be processed by a government functionary and laid to rest by a back-hoe driver.
No matter how good you are, or how bad you are, there should be kith or kin to mourn, to dress you, and to walk you to your final resting place.
I know that life isn't fair, but ... still.