According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in four adults aged 18 & older suffer makes everyone else suffer from their diagnosable mental illness in a given year in the U.S. This means that there are approximately 57.7 million wackjobs loose in the population free to breed, drive, & vote. And I’m pretty sure that I’ve lived next to more than my fair share of these people, particularly those with bipolar & personality disorders whose self-medicating treatment plan involved the consumption of large quantities of narcotics & booze. But this is not a public service announcement. This is a chronicle of some of my experiences with those folks whose mental illness was, shall we say, more pronounced than usual.
Notwithstanding certain family members and Crazy Mary Critchen, one of my first encounters with a mentally ill neighbor came when I lived beside a two lane rural highway. My rented home was midpoint between Susquehanna University and Bucknell University. It was an area populated mostly by Mennonites and spooky ass Protestant cemeteries from the 1700’s, but this particular region of the country also has the dubious distinction of being home to United States Penitentiary Lewisburg, which housed home-grown terrorist Timothy McVeigh, among other notable criminals.
I lived there for about two years and the neighbors who had occupied the upstairs unit in the back of the house were certifiably dysfunctional. Neither of them worked, so they rarely left the house, but I heard them during weekends because the heating vent from the furnace in the basement ran through my apartment up to theirs and amplified their conversations. It was convoluted bass-ackwards to run the vent through a unit that derived no heat from the furnace, but then the building itself had at one time been a giant farm house that had been split up into individual rental units.
As I was privy to their weekend conversations courtesy of the heating vent, I could attest to the fact that they rarely spoke to each other or to their children in a conversational tone of voice. Their preferred method of communication seemed to vary between drunken rant and dysfunctional rage. (Or maybe they were just fighting over who got to eat the last Twinkie since he & she were grossly obese.)
I wasn’t home a large majority of the time during the week and so I didn’t notice their conversations as much. Because they were not employed, they were rarely awake during early morning hours when I was getting ready to go to work. And by the time I got home at night, they were asleep or had already had their arguments. But on weekends, they usually began their day around 9 a.m. because it would start with the adult male addressing the adult female with his usual, Yo bitch, whar’s my brickfast! (Note here that this particular part of the State of Pennsylvania could have just as easily been located in Alabama without any noticeable change. Same Whiskey Tangoes in this area of PA as there are in Alabammy.)
These folks were annoying, and, I detested them for disturbing the only time during the week when I actually attained more than 5 hours rack time, but thankfully, their tenancy was short lived. Aside from an incident during which time they evidently did not supervise a child who had left the water running in the bathroom sink, thereby resulting in the ceiling in my kitchen collapsing, their mental illness intrusion into my life was minimal. They moved out after 3 months, presumably in search of a first floor apartment that they would not have to hire a forklift operator to hoist their 400 hundred pound asses up a couple stairs like they did at this one. They were eventually replaced by new tenants who weren’t quite so socially impaired or obnoxious.
The real fun with mental illness began when the other second floor neighbor on the other side of the building in the back apparently lost his job (or maybe he quit) as a truck driver. When they first moved in, I was cognizant, but as long as they didn’t generate excessive noise on weekends, I rarely heard them. About the only time I did notice them was when the adult male parked his semi-trailer cab in the lot by our dumpster in back.
In the ensuing days after the trucker stopped working, I noticed the lot became more congested because he was filling it with engine-less, rusting vehicles on cinder blocks. These 3 extra vehicles served absolutely no purpose that I could see since none of them had means of locomotion, but as long as I had a spot to park, I wasn’t going to make a problem where there wasn’t one. I didn’t have the time. I didn’t have the inclination.
One summer evening, I returned home around 17:30 H from my day job, and, parked in my usual spot in back of the building. I had exactly one hour to eat dinner and then drive to my second job that I had for shits & gigs on the nights I didn’t have class. I no sooner parked and exited the vehicle when I was verbally accosted by the unemployed trucker hillbilly holding a fifth of Jack in one hand, and a sawed off shotgun in the other. (No, I am not embellishing.)
He was sitting in the driver’s seat of one of his burned out vehicles drunkenly babbling about something and gesticulating furiously. I couldn’t understand what he was saying, and, didn’t care to find out.
When he realized I was walking away instead of asking him to speak up, he practically fell face first out of his seat onto the rocky ground and stumbled towards me. He slurred something, but I was not about to converse with this sorry sack of douche. The booze fumes emanating from his breath alone would have been enough to ignite the entire lot if anyone got close enough with a lit match.
The hillbilly continued slurring/drooling/spitting when something (I don’t know what exactly) made me suddenly stop walking and turn around to face the drunk who had been stumbling a few paces behind. I looked down at him over the top of my sunglasses, smiled the thoothiest smile I could muster and drawled, Y’all have a nice evenin’ now, y’hear? Then I turned around and continued walking away. I could practically hear the one, tiny, stripped cog that passed for his brain spinning furiously in a desperate attempt to generate a comeback, but all that came out was a mangled, Youuuu….RobbaDobbaZuubuu.
Now what robbadobbazuubuu means, you’ll have to ask the hillbilly. I’m assuming it was English, but one never knows when dealing with white trash drunkards whose mother tongue is Jack Daniels.
The very next evening, the hillbilly was drunk off his ass again, and this time, he could actually stand without falling down as he again, verbally accosted me after I parked my car.
I didn’t say a word and kept walking towards my unit because I could see that the shotgun he was waving in my direction was cocked. After I let myself in the apartment, I immediately contacted the local police department, who then referred me to the State Police. Pennsylvania is one of those states where when the local donut squad does not feel like dealing with Drunken Asshole X, they brush you off to the State Police who also have no inclination to help either. In fact, Pennsylvania should rename itself to the Our law enforcement doesn’t involve itself in anything unless pieces of your body is scattered around bloodying up the nice white walls State.
I explained the situation and assumed that public drunkenness and waving a loaded shotgun in someone’s face would constitute say, some sort of endangerment? Silly me. That is not the case in PA.
The State Police sent out a trooper the next day to my apartment during the time frame I told them I’d be available. After I repeated the facts of the case, the trooper handed me a brochure for domestic abuse and promptly left.
Now you may be asking yourself what domestic abuse has to do with the facts in this scenario? I couldn’t even begin to tell you. Evidently, it’s OK with the State of Pennsylvania to be shitfaced in public and wave a loaded shotgun in a stranger’s face in a threatening manner. Law enforcement has more important things to concern itself with. Like ensuring that the state controlled monopoly on booze is free to come up with ever more inventive ways to generate and maintain alcoholism rates among the citizenry.
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