Bezerkeley, California. Today marks my first week anniversary since I arrived. In that time, I have been called a dunce by a woman shouting at me in the street, I have been jeered at by a guy on the train, and I have been read sections of crazy books by a man in a hat on the street. And so my question, to all the learned men and women studying at this prestigious university, is always: what’s with all the crazy people? Is there some crazy-person magnet that draws people from throughout the US to this town, or is there something in the water that I need to worry about?
The general perception is that social services are really good in this town and that there is a general tolerance for the crazies that doesn’t exist elsewhere in the US. But surely people don’t turn crazy just because they are tolerated? Daniel’s answer is probably closer to the truth: that many of these folk fried their brains with psychedelics in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and this is the result.
This doesn’t explain my run-in with the guy on the train on the way back from San Francisco, though. I was sitting in my seat, minding my own business, when suddenly the guy opposite me who had been lolling asleep sat bolt upright. In a slurry voice and with darting eyes, he fired off a series of questions to everyone who he caught in that flickering gaze.
Now you must understand that this was not an old hippie from the ‘60s. I had actually thought that he looked like a hip Internet entrepreneur or a modern artist and was about to ask him on a date. He didn’t smell and was wearing clothes that indicated a certain degree of fashion-consciousness that certified people probably do not possess. But here it was, 1pm in the afternoon, and the man was either very drunk or very high.
I watched other peoples’ reactions with fascination. They tried to play the pretend-that-absolutely-nothing-out-of-the-ordinary-has-just-happened– and but for the flicker of nervousness in their eyes you would have believed it. But this man wouldn’t be ignored. He was crying out to the world to take notice and to tell him where in the world he was and what day it was. Poor guy. I guess he had a really bad hangover later.
A young woman sitting next to him was very kind (as was I in a “kind of” way). In return, he asked her if she was single, and then he got off at her stop. I do hope both of them are ok.
And so, the madness continues.