Friday Firesmith – Clearly Disturbed

I went to Publix today to get a sub for lunch. The store I normally visit is across town, and this one is a bit different. Their Deli isn’t as fast or well-staffed. Many people seem interested in getting food there, but even with call-ahead online ordering, a wait is to be had. But the subs are good, and I am hungry. Usually, I wait until I get off work to eat, but today, no, I need food. 

Three women are ahead of me, and they are together. One is doing the talking and ordering, and one is taking care of the third woman, who is clearly disturbed. The disturbed woman is young, maybe middle twenties, and the woman trying to keep her on an even keel is much older. Disturbed woman moans, but not loudly, cries, and wants to leave. DW likes to be hugged, and isn’t violent or loud, but I step back, and give them all some space. 

“Why did they bring her in here?” a man behind me whispered to either me or the woman behind him. 

“I think they’re hungry,” I tell him, and he glares. 

“They could have left her in the car, you know, with one of the women, and the other could have come in,” he says with a tone of voice that this is a problem he has just solved and we should thank him for it. 

“Maybe they’re trying to socialize her. Maybe she wanted to come inside,” I suggest. 

“Who gives a rodent’s donkey what she wants?” the man says, and a woman behind him says something I can’t hear, but he doesn’t like it. 

“What do you think is wrong with her?” he asks me. 

“She’s living in a society that doesn’t value people who cannot be productive, so there’s a minimum amount of resources available to her, or her family, and this is what we get,” I tell him. 

“They ought to keep her locked up,” he says, and the woman behind him says something to him that I can hear, but cannot repeat in this place. 

“You a millionaire?” I ask. 


“You independently wealthy?”

“Hell no.”

“If something happens to you, and you’re incapacitated, you’re more likely to wind up a ward of the state, and depending on how well you function, you might get to go to Publix for lunch one day,” I say, and a woman behind the counter waves me forward. 

“I rather be dead.”

“Thanks for proving my point, enjoy your lunch,” it’s time to end this. 

The woman making my sub looks at me, looks at the guy behind me, but says nothing. Clearly Disturbed Woman and the two with her, get their food and go. The guy behind me moves up. 

“Why do ya’ll let people like that in here?” he asks the woman preparing his food, but the woman just smiles and asks him to repeat his order. 

The woman making my sub stops, glares, and I sense trouble. 

“Could I get spicy mustard?” I ask and she turns and looks at me. 

“Thank you,” I tell her, and smile, she smiles back and exhales. 

“Thank you,” she says, “spicy mustard it is.” 

I function better than Clearly Disturbed does, but in the long run, lower than average. I get by. I think about what to say and do before I go out in public. I smile a lot. I tip well. I make an effort to be friendly. 

I can do it. She cannot. 

That doesn’t make me a better person than she is. 

Take Care,


Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.

Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

12 thoughts on “Friday Firesmith – Clearly Disturbed”

  1. Obviously the disturbed one in this story is the man who has no patience for his fellow humans. He’s the A@*hole.
    I have grandchildren who are autistic. They may not function the way society expects them to, but they are bright and intelligent. One of them was reading at a 4th grade level at three years of age, he just didn’t speak much around strangers. If I ever meet someone like Mr. A when I’m with them and he has the sheer audacity to breathe a word against my babies, I may need bail money.
    One of my pet peeves is people who judge others to begin with. I applaud you for speaking up. I don’t know why he felt the need to comment on whether or not she had the right to be in public, if anyone should have been locked away, I daresay it should have been him with his archaic ideas.

    • Chick, the ability to function in today’s society isn’t exactly the best gauge of intelligence to begin with. Personally, we ought to be teaching people to communicate outside the norm. It would be amazing what we could learn. There are other worlds inside our own, and we ignore them.

      I was very happy with the people at Publix for carrying on with their business instead of throwing a knife at the guy.

    • Jim, I’m certain there will be. People are in a hurry, they have an hour for lunch, and someone is in their way. It’s awful to have to wait, and everyone should be able-bodied and comprehend reality in the same manner. That is, until something happens to them, and then people ought to understand. I live in South Georgia, and when Mom and I go out for lunch, people will hold the door open for her, and move out of the way so she can get by. It’s pretty good here for older people. That guy in Publix was not what we usually find.

  2. This is another example of the old story about some people putting down others just to make them feel better about their miserable life. And I’ll bet that he doesn’t have a dog! If he did, then God help the dog…

  3. WTF, I left a comment early this morning but it’s disappeared.
    I refuse to be censored, almost as strongly as I refuse to admit I must have screwed up. LoL

    Lock her up? Is it so hard for him to grasp the cost of incarceration when she could inexpensively be soylent green. Maybe he put his nest egg in for profit prisons.

    The spicy mustard move was brilliant, but risky. Attracting the attention of a woman who’s clearly pissed off and with access to many sharp knives. Fortunately it worked and speeded (sped?) up your lunch to boot.
    Win ~ Win, for the silver tongued devil.

    • Bruce, breaking someone’s concentration when they’re about to throw down is never a bad idea. If she was really about to start talking loud to that guy, nothing I could do would stop her, but if she just needed some direction, that would do it. Beware those women who work in food service. They’re going to be nice nearly all of the time, and smile through it. When that smiles goes, you ought to go, too.

  4. Yeah, that guy behind you has issues. And not good ones.

    While I do not have experience dealing with those like Disturbed Woman, I am a “live and let live” type. This means I would have pretty much done what you did, Mike.

    We all have issues sometimes dealing with the public, so patience is a virtue–and a necessity.

    • Tim, the older I get the more I understand on a personal level what these people are going through in life, and what the people who take care of them are having to deal with every day. Why stand there, upright, with autonomy over your self, and judge those who do not, and cannot have that? He might wake up one day after a bad wreck to discover he’s in the room next to this woman. I wonder if he would try to have lunch with her some day.

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