How do you deal with crazy people? Do you smile and nod until you have the opportunity to escape? Do you try to ignore them even when they appear to be speaking directly to you? Do you act crazy as well and try to communicate with them? Do you sympathize with them as another human being with problems and dreams and try to connect?
Let me tell you what I do? Or in this case, what I did. This afternoon I decided to get Chinese food for lunch. When we entered the Chinese food place, there was a short black man standing at the counter. No one ever expects a crazy person. It’s always a surprise. Chris and I just happen to be discussing gun control as we entered the Chinese food place.
You know.. How 17 kids died and the government isn’t going to do anything about it.
I don’t know if that is what made him talk to us, but considering that isn’t what he talked about, I can’t be sure. When he turned to look at us, you could see that the white of his left eye was blood red. He wore somewhat dirty clothes, as if he worked a hard labor job, and had one sock on. No shoes. I didn’t notice that right away though.
He seemed very normal at first. He spoke in something like a Caribbean accent. He talked about being a veteran but also working in secret intelligence for the government. I can’t get into much of what he said because most of it I tuned out. He said Walmart doesn’t charge him for anything. He said he had a stroke and began to cry about it for about 40 seconds. He called Hillary a liar. He said he supported Donald Trump. He even inched into scary territory stating he had “plans” for the White House and that if he were the one to go after Bin Laden, he would have killed his children. He said a lot.
After we ordered our food and sat as he talked, Chris continued to look at him and nod as he spoke without engaging too heavily. The man had a backpack and recent shootings can make some people careful in how they interact with strangers. I, however, looked straight ahead with a disengaged look on my face. I only have so much patience for things I don’t understand.
I am sure this man has a story. I am not sure that he was telling it. Most likely something traumatic happened to him. He was once like you and I and one day or over the course of years possibly, something happened to make him what he is today. I say crazy, but that isn’t fair. He most likely has an undiagnosed condition. This kind of thing can happen to anyone. He said he had a stroke. Maybe that part was real. Maybe it was all real. Maybe the government did this to him so that the secrets he knows sound like the ravings of a mad man. Unfortunately there is no way to know. Worse, it is likely that no one is helping or is able to give him the help he needs. He is lost and will one day be forgotten.
Becoming like him is one of my greatest fears..