No, this isn’t the Holiday Inn

Earlier this evening I was sitting in a room on a psychiatric ward during visiting hours, when a few other visitors arrived (to see another patient, assigned to the other bed in the room). A middle aged man looked into the room from the doorway, and at the person I was visiting. He said to his companion, “oh look, the wacko is in here.” His companion gave him a shush and shoved him out the door.

We decided to take our conversation elsewhere. As we were leaving the room (with the person we came to visit in tow), we passed the commenter. I looked at him and I was suddenly determined not to be the one who felt awkward. I looked him unwaveringly in the eye, like I was playing some kind of immaterial game of chicken. He said something to be friendly (“hey there,” or something like it), but I didn’t say anything back. When it became clear that I was not the awkward party in this brief encounter, it took some of my remaining reserve (from my otherwise shy, but weary soul) to keep from stopping, leaning in, and whispering, “oh look, the biggest fucking ignorant jackass I’ve seen all day is still here.”

I’ll have you know those were the exact words on the tip of my tongue. They are not particularly inspired words, but they fit my emotional state.

Dude, just where the hell did you think you were? Instead of banning cell phones on psych floors (regarding visitors and what they bring in on their visits), they ought to ban immaturity.

I don’t expect a whole lot of compassion from society at large when it comes to mental illness; but I’d expect a little more from a guy who obviously has some connection to it… why else would he be a fellow visitor on a psychiatric floor? Maybe I’m being a little too harsh. Maybe he’s a newbie. Maybe this was just his reaction to a horrible environment – a little defense mechanism in action.

Regardless, it was about as angry as I’ve been this month. I’m not sure wether my lack of response was a sign of maturity or fatigue.

Give the gift of words.