The Odd Among Us

Once in a while we meet a customer who makes Mel Gibson look sane.  If you saw the move Conspiracy Theory that Mel starred in, you know that this likeable fellow, Jerry, a NYC taxi driver, knows THEY are out to get him.  They, you ask?  Who is the they?  Well, it doesn’t really matter, I guess.  But THEY (always capitalized) are after him.

We sometimes have folks wander in who have a conspiracy theory.  THEY are cheating them, following them, destroying them, plotting against them or tricking them.  THEY may be politicians (either right or left-leaning),  the education system or the woman at the bank.  Yesterday it was Hitler.

When this 60-ish man came to the counter, we’ll call him Sam, he wanted to know how to write a book.  Choking back a snide remark that might have included handing him a piece of paper and a pen, I probed further.  Did he want to find a publisher for his already finished book?  No, he wanted to write a book and tell millions how Hitler, aka as our government and court system is evil, has cheated him, owes him a lot of money and also took away his hearing.  Ah, yes, my conversation with him was very loud and drew much attention from both our employees and the customers in the store.

I tried to treat him with dignity.  The conversation, or monologue, went on and on, taking weird and illogical sharp turns.  I saw his confusion.  I saw his fear.  And I was overwhelmed with a rush of emotions.  Compassion, frustration and the compulsion to laugh at him.  I dared not look at my co-workers for fear of breaking up altogether.

Luckily, other customers came along, the phone rang (thank you, Piper) and he shuffled off, content for the moment with the name and number of a local writer’s group.   Their next meeting will be lively.

What is our response to those like Sam who just don’t fit?  I’d love to hear your thoughts and hear how you respond to the odd among us.  I’m not worried about Sam reading this.  He doesn’t have a computer, email or a telephone, because, remember, THEY took away his hearing.

Published in: on September 22, 2010 at 5:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

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