Becky Says...

April 2005

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Tales - April 13

In my years at working at Non-Profit Agency #1, I came to know a woman who spent a lot of time taking advantage of the common areas of the agency's building. In her time, she fell through a lot of the cracks in the mental health system. While the agency couldn't do a lot to help her, we could at least provide a safe place for her to spend some time.

Having conversations with her was usually a little startling for people who didn't know her. She would be talking perfectly rationally about whatever was the subject, then she would veer off into a tale of the electrodes in her brain by which the government could contact her if the telephones weren't working. Or she'd tell about giving birth to eight babies --- as in octuplets--- and how tiny they were.

The reality was she had two children, born separately. Both were grown and both were painfully aware that their mother was not sane. Neither child could take care of her on a permanent basis, although they did what they could.

Eventually, everyone in the downtown area knew her, by sight if not by name. Those of us who knew her a little better warned some of the shopkeepers to keep an ear out for her, so that they could step in and redirect her attention if she started telling one of her tales to unsuspecting customers. She really liked having a new person to listen to her.

I was reminded of this woman last night, when someone I don't know well at all started telling a tale I found very far-fetched. I'm pretty sure the teller of the tale was telling me the truth, with perhaps exaggeration thrown in for spice. But I'm absolutely sure the teller of the tale mainly wanted a new person to listen.

So long as the teller doesn't have a chapter that involves government-issue electrodes, I'm happy to oblige.

Text © copyright 2000-2005 Becky