A Thud & A Scatter, And Suddenly I'm A Walking A.T.M.

The other night I got scammed on my way home. I was walking along the sidewalk with a friend, and three older men were walking towards us. Geez, I suddenly sound like a kid in elementary school... well there were these bigger kids who... No.

Each of the men walking towards us was carrying a plastic containers of food. For some reason, the three men split up so that we'd pass through the middle of them - and they more or less sandwiched us. As one of the men passed me on my right, I bumped his hand & send his food flying out of his hands...

Everything grinds to a halt as the container hits the sidewalk.

At first, my reaction was uh-oh. I felt bad for the guy for dropping his food. He starts ranting about how the food was for his kids & now they were going to get nothing - keeping in mind that it's around 11pm. Not the best time for a sidewalk confrontation. I normally try to pencil those in around 2:15 to 2:30... Y'know?

So food's on the ground & the now-foodless-man is huffing and puffing and about ready to blow my whole house down. I stood there in shock - not knowing what to say... I mean - he bumped into me & dropped his food. I felt bad for him. But then he puts himself in my face and starts asking why I did it.


It took me a moment to figure out what he meant. "Why'd you do it!" he kept saying. Bumping into the guy was unavoidable because the two of us were passing through the middle of the three of them as we headed towards each other. It wasn't something I... oh.

That's when it dawned on me that I was being had. He wanted money & I figured his two friends were going to make sure he got it. The whole thing had been set up long before my friend & I arrived. I guess most people give in at the "it's your fault" thing - but when THAT didn't work, he pulled out the ever-popular crazy-card.

"Hey man I'm crazy! I'm broke and I'm crazy!" Well that's great. I'd suggest Ritalin for the jitters and crazy except for the broke-part. I'd suggest a job to alleviate the broke-ness, but then there's the crazy part. Ah well. And since he IS crazy, I won't council him on the grief caused by the loss of his two-day-old danish... and clearly the point would be moot.

By the way - I just felt like saying moot. You don't hear the word "moot" often enough anymore... not since Rick Springfield used it in Jessie's Girl. ("I want to tell her that I love her but the point is probably moot") Yeah. So anyway...

The sidewalk confrontation continues. He's broke. He's crazy. And lucky for me, he's now my problem. Funny how you can never be honest in a situation like that. I wanted to say "Come on buddy... We both know the game we're playing here. You want money... it's a question of how much and do I have it." ...I had $2 and a Blockbuster free-movie coupon.

Well he passed on the coupon, and we went our separate ways...



::::: | Monday, Apr 26 2004 at 10:38 PM
::::: |


mandedah said:

While I sympathize with your discomfort in this dreadful situation, I am offended by your phrasing "the ever-popular crazy card" or words to that effect. I'm sure you are aware of the seriousness of the problem of mental illness in our society. While issues like race, sexual orientation, homelessness, alcohol and drug addiction are now fairly "comfortable" topics that we are encouraged to view and discuss with an open, politically correct mind-- the issue of mental illness remains the last stigma. While the people you encountered were undboutedly somewhat disturbed and behaving so, there are plenty of people with diagnoses who handle their lives responsibly, maintain normal and healthy social interactions, and even contribute to society.

::::: | April 27, 2004 10:10 AM

Rob said:

you know... you're right when it comes to actual mental illness. There's a difference between "mental illness" and "crazy." This guy appeared to be neither mentally ill nor on any drugs. I grew up in a family of mental illness, so believe me, I know the real thing.

In this case, it was just a guy who chose to more or less mug people rather than ask for the money.

Afterwards, my friend and I had a discussion about what it takes for a person to fall so far... to resort to thievery. I'll be honest, I wish I knew. Why is it that one member of my family can get hooked on drugs, and I got hooked on life?

Who knows. If I could figure that one out, I'd be a psychologist instead of a... what is it I do again?


::::: | April 27, 2004 10:31 AM

lisa said:

I have to throw in my 2 cents. I don't believe there is anything wrong with the descriptive term "crazy."

My mother is crazy. Or, as some would have it: "mentally ill." I've been taking care of her for 15 years. I use the common term "crazy" because it lightens my load, in that, it helps to make common, for me, a situation that is soul-wrenching and has often left me feeling very alone. I became parent to my parent in my early 20s. And she laughs when I say, "Well, Mom, you're getting all crazy on me again. Let's try it again."

When I say, "Well, off to go visit my crazy mother," people who don't know me usually assume that I mean that only in an affectionate sense -- as everyone has a mother who is somewhat "crazy" with love. I do mean "crazy" affectionately, as "mental illness" is a stark reality she and I have had to live with for so very long.

I can't say I agree all the time with politically corrective rainclouds. I like your writing, Rob. It is accessible. Pray we all could lighten up the world as you do.

Being politically correct shouldn't be all doom and gloom. I understand mental illness all too well, and choose to reclaim the term "crazy." I see how my mother struggles, and it has become my lifelong struggle too. I will say it again: My mother is crazy. And I love her to the point of changing her diapers.

::::: | April 26, 2005 3:30 PM

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