Friday, December 31, 2010
An encounter I had in a market last week affords a textbook example of how to handle a stranger obviously dealing with some kind of psychiatric condition:
I was picking up items for a Thanksgiving feast, plus other odds and ends. Into the basket went olive oil, plus carefully-selected avocados, then onions. Then I temporarily abandoned my cart as I made a run for other produce - asparagus, salad greens ...
I started dumping the stuff back in my cart, when a lady informed me it was her cart. Sorry, my mistake, I was about to respond. Then I saw my olive oil and avocados and onions sitting exactly where I had put them. I looked at her in askance.
These are mine, she insisted, pointing to the items.
No use arguing, I decided, as I politely disengaged. I dumped my stuff into a new cart and quickly restocked. Okay, avocados are never quick. The person I was shopping with came over. I recounted what happened, then let him know it is never wise to get into an argument with someone who is clearly not rational.
It's best to walk away from the situation, I explained. If you can't walk away, you make sure you do nothing to set off the individual, I continued. I'm not a mental health professional, but my work and volunteer work has given me some experience. Anyway, it was no big deal. Okay, it would have been a big deal had those avocados in my cart been the only ones in the store ready to eat, but you get the picture.
Obviously this person wasn't behaving rationally. No question about it.
Time to return to why I was here: I'd forgotten fresh cranberries. I dashed away from my cart on a mission of search and retrieve. There, close to my quarry, was an abandoned cart. Curious, I checked the contents:
Olive oil, avocados, onions ...