I am in the music section of the library putting away cds when a man in gray sweat pants, hair the color of fresh horse manure, age, twenties, approaches me. “How are you doing? Can you help me?” His speech is rapid. He shifts his weight from one foot to the other. I note that he has different colors socks. Pink and blue. He paces a bit.
I tag him as manic. A busy mind unleashed in the slow drawl of the library. Later, I learn that he regularly accosts one of the library assistants when she is on the first floor desk. He told her his name was Britain and that he was bi-polar. My assessment is right.
He wants to know if I know of the group “Yes.” I don’t. He becomes irate; waving his hands in the air, saying, “how can you not know them. They just filled a stadium.” He stomps his foot like a frustrated child. Then pauses, “Do you think there are mean-spirited people in the world?”
“What?” I respond, even though I heard him clearly.
“You know. Mean people. Do they exist?”
U suspect he runs across many people who are mean to him because he behaves like a wind up toy marine on overdrive. I wonder what he is like when depressed. I imagine he doesn’t bathe, eat, or leave his house–a human doll void of feelings, lost in the wave of blue bed sheets.
“You really want me to answer that?”
FIrst, I yawn. “Sorry. I didn’t get much sleep last night.” Pause. He unwaveringly stares me in the eyes. I don’t flinch “Okay. Yes, I think there are mean people in this world. But as far as mean-spirited, very few considering how many people there are. I like to think the world is filed with gentle and kind souls. I also think you attract how you behave. If you’re mean, then people are going to be mean back. Kill them with kindness, yes?”
“You’re a nice lady,” he says, “but delusional. Mean people are always in our midst. Mean. Mean. Mean.” He pounds on his chest as he repeats mean. “Now will you help me find “Yes? It’s a rock band.”
I look under “y” in rock for him and come up empty handed. My hand feeling naked, vulnerable, as he drills holes in it with his eyes.
“So much for that,” and he walks away.
I’m thinking “did that just happen?” Yes. I think no further and leave it at “yes.”
It sounds like one of our inmates. Just because someone is cycling in their moods or having psychotic symptoms doesn’t mean it’s okay for them to be rude. I loved your way of interacting with him – a realistic way. Also, the yawn I liked. I like the way you describe interacting with library patrons who are mentally ill.
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