Saturday, January 27, 2007

You Are Not My Problem

Somewhere between the hours of 9 to 5 every day I inhabit a world that is delicately described as "Hard to Employ Populations". Don't get me wrong, I hate having to get my ass out of bed in the morning as much as the next guy, am disgusted at the fact that I sit in a cubicle, and am generally offended that I'm not given a salary for simply being the all around bundle of joy that you know and love. But aside from that I generally like my job. It's a wonderful mix of writing grants, doing mind numbing paper work and research, and having people threaten to kill me.

There are various degrees of "Hard to Employ" out there. Somewhere near the bottom of the pile lies the guy who was talking to the wall the other morning. A manager runs in to my side of the office with the unmistakable "Somebody come quick" urgency of someone who smells impending violence in the air. We all rush in to the waiting room - itself an act that generally pushes people over the edge from agitation to outright rage - and just stop.

He's not really menacing. Just standing next to the wall having a conversation. With it. After it became clear that no blood was going to be shed, most people wandered back to their desks. I stuck around and stood halfway between the two conversations taking place, the guy talking to the wall, and his councillor talking to her boss.

Upon further observation, it became clear that the guy was actually involved in two conversations. The one with the wall was pretty calm. It consisted mostly of, "No, take another hit... shit smoke all you want, I don't care... yeah, I used to have to smoke a lot to get off, but now I can get high just by thinking of it... no man, hit it again, I'm cool... yeah, don't it feel great... I feel like I could take on the world... I mean, nothing matters at all... yeah... yeah... no, hit it one more time, I'm just floating away here...."

If it were taking place with an actual human being back in my pothead days, he would be pretty cool. I sincerely doubt he was talking about the reefer, though... The second conversation, which was interspersed with that one, was where the aggression was coming out. "Motherfuckers think they can thrown me out...." "what the fuck am I to you, huh?" "you cant try and tell me how to fucking act, I live my own god damn life, motherfucker.... don't you look at me... don't you look at me." This conversation was taking place in a manner that in saner people would be described as "talking to yourself" He, on the other hand, seemed to be addressing the space two feet in front of him. He went back and forth, turning to the wall all chill, and going back to threaten the air in front of him. The conversation between the Councilor and her boss was even more entertaining. Apparently being batshit crazy isn't reason enough to throw him out of the program, and we need to terminate him in a way that doesn't leave us open for a lawsuit. The prospect of him standing in front of a judge testifying seemed pretty amusing at the time, but what do I know. I'm the guy who laughs at all the inappropriate parts of movies... while everyone else is getting around to empathy and human emotions...

Somewhere while they were having the conversation, we lost track of the guy. He stepped into the elevator and wandered off into the world.... "Where did he go?" "Well," I suggested "if he got off in one of the other floors and starts to do his act we'll hear the screams soon enough, and if not he's not really our problem anymore... is he?" With a certain class of people my goal is to get them out of the office without incident. Beyond that, I don't really care. I have no power to save them from themselves or anybody else. All I can accomplish is to convert them into somebody else's problem, and hope that I'm not around to clean up the messes they leave behind.

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