Yes, I can see you

This evening, I decided to indulge two of my vices: junk food and walking around with my headphones on, listening to music. So I walked to Target, which is close by my apartment, and picked up my poison: Darrell Lea soft eating licorice and Market Pantry Sour Watermelon Slices, barely noticing the woman sitting on the bench in front of Target, smoking a cigarette.

On my way out, bag in hand, head still in headphones, I passed her again, and she called out “Sir!”

She looked like a public service announcement: A smallish White woman with dark hair in an indefinable middle age roughened by hard living, dressed in a dark jacket and jeans. She looked a bit lost, which was emphasized by her speech.

She said I was taking a risk walking around in headphones like that, and that I should open my ears and hear the world. I thanked her for her advice, not mentioning that Missoula rolls up the sidewalks late on Sundays, especially out where I live, far from downtown. She asked me what had been happening, and I told her that it’s been quiet. She accepted this, and informed me that she goes to various neighborhoods, seeing what’s going on.

She told me she stays out of trouble, and kinda looked away, down the street, and got a bit quiet, a moment of rest after the pressured ramble. I thanked her again for the advice, and began to walk away, leaving my headphones off.

I was a few steps away when she asked me if I could see her, or if she was invisible.

I said, a bit loudly, I could see her fine. She walked towards me, and began to talk about how I had walked by her without acknowledging her and she was paranoid about addictions and how I shouldn’t keep my headphones on, the last a bit like a concerned mother. A bit like my mother.

I thanked her again for the advice, and she asked, with a note of concern, if I heard evil voices. I said no, she reiterated not wearing headphones, I thanked her again, and we parted.

Completely polite. Completely nice, and bearing good advice. Pity about the textbook presentation of a debilitating mental disease.

Yes, I see her. I saw her on my way in, and I took her, vaguely, for an employee on the last break before the store closes. I saw her on the way out, and I finally saw her, diseased, broken, lost, but helpful and kind instead of angry or aggressive.

I began counting symptoms almost as soon as she began talking. Pressured speech, distractability, smoking… classic. My mom, an RN, worked in Warm Springs during her training decades ago, before they turfed out all but the violent cases. I can’t recite the DSM, and I’m not trained myself, but I know something of the shape of it, of this disease process.

We all see her. Every society does.

Why do all the cray-crays sit on those benches outside stores? They scare me.


I was once sitting on a bench in the front intrance game area at a Wal-Mart (waiting for the person I was with to finish shopping) when Random Guy walks into the store and attempts to converse with me about the latest Harley Davidson motorcycles. (I know nothing about Harley Davidson motorcycles.)

They have to be somewhere. Outside of a big store is better than most locations. There’s benches. They have access to the free toilets and drinking fountains inside the store. They can engage in conversations (and ask for money) with all of the people passing in and out of the store. And if they get a little money, they can go inside and buy something to eat.

We don’t have benches outside shops, or anywhere much, any more. Tough luck if you want to sit down.

Wal-Mart is made for loitering and hanging about. Reason #197 Why I hate the place.

What exactly constitutes ‘pressured speech’?

I’ve never heard the phrase before.

Pressured speech is nervous intensity, and not just anxious but as though they can’t NOT speak. It’s sort of the anxiety rattle-on thing, but with a bit of an obsessive quality.

Plus there’s likely to be CCTV, and regular staff who sometimes get to know them a bit. Someone like that isn’t likely to be a danger, but they’re very vulnerable.

There’s been cases coming to light round here of homeless people, especially those who were somewhat mentally ill or drug addicted, being abducted with the promise of money, then used as slave labour. And I don’t mean just not paid for a day’s work and dumped back, I mean sometimes held captive for years. If no-one even notices- or cares- that they’ve gone, there’s no one looking, so being in the public eye, likely filmed could be some deterrent.

Not me. My volume is turned up, the podcast has my attention, and I’m good.

I was listening to a podcast yesterday on my morning walk when I began to hear an odd noise. I took off my headphones to better identify what the sound was.

Across the street walking in the opposite direction was a middle aged man. The noise was coming from him. About every ten seconds, he would just yell. I couldn’t tell if he was yelling a word or just a scream. He sounded so desperate and sad. It just made me feel awful for him.

We have a large homeless population in my neighborhood. So many young people.

Thank you Derleth for seeing her.

We have a guy that walks around Flint named Fiddlesticks. He’s some kind of war veteran who refuses to accept benefits. I believe the pawn shop lets him sleep somewhere behind the store. I caught him walking down the street with a bra over his clothes in broad daylight once. I’m not sure if he’s anything more than a pitiable drunk, but we all know him. I wonder if society is letting him down by not doing more, but at the same time, he’s his own person. He’s got to be 60 years old or so, at least, and I’m being generous.

There is a local crazy round here (well, 12 miles from here, down by the Kroger) who dances down the side of the highway backwards, doing spins and generally looks like he’s at his personal Grateful Dead concert. Always shirtless, unless its snowing, and always with the same cargo pants and crazy fur hat. Looks like Grizzly Adams, only about 90lbs. And worn out leather.

Just a matter of time before this asshole gets hit by a car.

I bet as a kid you stomped on every crack in the sidewalk as soon as you heard it was forbidden.

What about this man makes him an asshole? I hope people are gentler with you if you ever have emotional problems than you are being with him.

The man, from your description, is disturbed. He is not failing other people, they are failing him. There should be ways to prevent him putting himself (and potentially other people) in danger. But that’s not on him, that’s on us.

Forbidden? I remember hearing that it caused spinal fracture of the maternal lineage of some sort. Unable to recognize a mechanism of effect, I ignored the warning and noticed no harm.

I think every little town or village in Arkansas has a local crazy. Mr.Wrekkers Uncle Petey was the one in our local-ish hamlet. It was a big embarrassment to the family. He fed the pigeons and alley cats. People were up in arms about it. You know how it went, they claimed he was adding to the problem. It was all so funny to me. I secretly took him bags of cat food. I may have been drawn and quartered if I was found out. Cause I am such a rebel and shit.:wink:

We have one in our town. He walks around with his portable tape player (yes cassette tapes) playing 80s and 90s rap tapes, while dancing to them. I see him in town, and up near the interstate. Someone has to be driving him, because that would be quite a perilous walk, even for a sane person.

He’s come up and talked to me before, he’s harmless. We were inside the Hardee’s/Red Burrito, and he showed me his pocket change and asked me if he had enough for anything. Fortunately, they had a special on tacos (59 cents each), so I counted up his money and told him he could get 2 tacos. He was pretty excited about that.

I was in the supermarket near my work just a few minutes ago, and there were several police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances turned out for a disorderly man yelling curses inside the store. Not sure what else might have prompted them to detain him.