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Chris G. Williams Beware: I mix tech and personal interests here.

This weekend was not so good.

While I was away (Minnesota) I started getting reports that one of my Reality Check customers (a regular and a friend) was acting strange. Ok, more like stranger than usual. He's always been a little odd.

But now he was agitated, rambling and saying some pretty bizarre stuff. He says I saved his life last weekend (12/3). He also says I showed him what was wrong in his life and provided him the means to fix it.

For the record, I never did either of those things. I did, however, stay up all night at the shop. He and I were the only ones there (except for my oldest boy, who was sleeping on the couch) and we talked a lot, but about nothing of significance. Mostly we just hung out. Apparently I mentioned something about children with ADD and how doctors use speed (Ritalin) to bring it under control.

I got home last Wednesday night. More complaints rolling in. Ok, more like comments than complaints, but still... He was doing lots of scribbling and talking to himself. Posting odd little notes, almost like instructions, around the shop. Taking people's snack food and hiding it from them.  I didn't see much of him on Thursday. He was a bit more talkative than usual, but seemed ok. I drove to Atlanta and back.

Friday (12/8) he comes in the shop. Talking nonstop. Rambling about "people who care about me, but aren't doctors, telling me they are worried about me" and "if I get hungry, I'll eat. If I get thirsty, I'll drink something" etc...  You could tell he was agitated, but he was speaking in that disturbingly calm sort of way a person uses when they are trying to convince others they arent crazy.

I look at the clock and realize it's not even 3pm. He shouldnt be here yet. He's a high school teacher, but wow he looks like hell. Hasn't shaved in a few days, kind of wide eyed. Definitely something wrong.

So, I ask him why he's not at school. Apparently several teachers and his boss got together and had a little intervention at school. Apparently it went badly and now he's here and he's pissed.  He keeps rambling about "people who aren't doctors." His school called his mom, and she starts calling him and his school is calling him and he's getting VERY agitated on the phone and in my shop.

Eventually he calms down for a bit, but never really stops talking... just going on and on. Eventually I stop paying attention. He's a regular, and by that I mean he is in the shop every single day it is open and would be there on Mondays too, if we were open.

More of my regulars start rolling in and they all tell me stories of the crazy stuff he's been doing. Apparently he hasnt been sleeping. He hasn't been eating properly or drinking either. (By eating properly, I mean he's only eating beef jerky and vitamins.)

Over the next couple hours, he manages to verbally abuse every person that came into the shop. He yells at anyone drinking a soda, or eating candy. People he considers friends now want nothing to do with him. He continues his verbal assault until everyone but me has left the main room... They are all upset, hurt or annoyed. I look around the shop and see his personal crap is everywhere... credit cards on one table, books on another, cell phone on another... it's everywhere.

Hand me my bat...

At this point, he has to leave. I tell him nicely. "____ you should go home". He responds with "It's ok, I'll go home when I feel the need to." I try again, and again, explaining that it was a directive, not a request. Still no effect, so I turn it up a notch. "_____ go home. You need to leave." Still the same response. Without retyping the same dialogue over and over, it eventually escalates to "_____!! Get the F*ck OUT of my SHOP... NOW!"

That seemed to get through to him, or maybe it was the bat in my hand. I dunno.

He starts to walk out, empty handed. I tell him to get all his stuff first. He refuses. I tell him again (slightly louder) and eventally he collects his things and leaves.

Half an hour later...

One of my customers goes out for a smoke. Looks like our friend's car is still in the lot. That's not good. So we walk out there, looking around. He is nowhere to be found. We check the car... it's empty, other than a large foam rubber sword. Definitely the right car.

Then the police show up. They're doing a routine pass through and we flag them down and let them know about our deranged friend that we assume is still wandering the street. They run his plates, get his address and leave.

Another 30 minutes go by...

Several police cars and rescue trucks go whizzing past the shop. Not good.  Someone walking in the middle of the road (highway) was hit by a car. Shit! Could it be him? We don't know. None of us know anything. I go out for a drive and see if I can find anything out. Nobody is around at that point. All the trucks are gone. I swing back by the shop and grab Meagan. She knows where he lives.

As we pull up, the people next door are peeking out the windows. They look agitated. We get out and bang on his door. no answer. bang some more... no answer. I do this 3-4 times, and try the door. It's locked. Finally the neighbor comes out and tells us the police and some paramedics showed up and hauled him off to the hospital. Apparently he had an altercation with the neighbor and tried to get in her apartment. She called the cops.

So we know he's safe. Not hit by a car. Not harming anyone or himself.

The remainder of the night was much less eventful. Pretty subdued, all things considered.

I was definitely not in the mood to play any games that evening so we closed up early, around 1am, after watching Dusk til Dawn. Great movie.

Saturday, we hear from another of our regular customers that he is still in the E.R. because they haven't been able to stabilize him. He's considered a threat to himself and others. Nobody has been allowed to speak to him at this point.

Sunday morning, the shop phone rings. It's his girlfriend in Indiana. She hasn't heard from him since Friday afternoon. She has no idea where he is or what has happened. She knows he hangs out at the shop a lot, and she found the number via google. She's crying.

God I hate it when they cry.

So I tell her everything. All the backstory I got from others, everything I saw, the trip to his place, thinking he got hit by a car, the relief afterwards, etc. I tell her all that, give her the name and number to the hospital and wish her good luck. She never stopped crying.

Sunday afternoon I drove to the airport and hopped a plane to TX. I'll be back on Thursday.

I have no idea what I'll be coming back to, but I have a feeling that was just the beginning.

Posted on Monday, December 11, 2006 2:41 PM General Interest | Back to top

Comments on this post: Maybe you could just smack me around some, while you're at it...

# re: Maybe you could just smack me around some, while you're at it...
Requesting Gravatar...
All that Magic card ink finally got to his head...

I can't say I would want to be in that situation. You think about your customers who are being irritated and think about your regular who has some sort of problem in the head. Hopefully he will get the help he needs to get back to shuffling magic cards and throwing downs some crits (If that is what you do, awesome, never touched those things).
Left by Jeff Julian on Dec 11, 2006 3:08 PM

# re: Maybe you could just smack me around some, while you're at it...
Requesting Gravatar...
Hopefully you will be able to look back in a couple weeks or months and see that this was a positive turning point for him, when he was able to start getting the help he sounds like he needs.
Left by Paul on Dec 11, 2006 3:28 PM

# re: Maybe you could just smack me around some, while you're at it...
Requesting Gravatar...
Actually, your friend has classic symptoms of a bipolar manic episode, complete with lack of sleep, deranged behavior, talking faster than normal, and psychosis and paranoia. I hope that someone had the good sense to admit him and get him some help. An intervention would only work if he was sane, but he needs to get some help before he does something to himself or others.
Left by Scott Miller on Dec 11, 2006 5:03 PM

# re: Maybe you could just smack me around some, while you're at it...
Requesting Gravatar...
Wow, boss, that's rough and scary. At least he's getting the help he needs now, wot? You did the right thing by the other regulars in your shop, and that's a good thing. Bad things happen to good people sometimes. I can also appreciate the way you handled the phone call. That couldn't have been easy.

Perhaps it's all done, and things will level out now.
Left by Theo Moore on Dec 12, 2006 6:39 AM

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