Wednesday, January 5, 2011

This nonordinary person

Tonight at work I encountered a customer who performed a very odd ritual before handing over money to buy beer.  Amidst a strange medley of odd jerks and seemingly purposeless 'motioning' with his arms to a nonexistent point of interest, he dug in his pockets and wallet for money.  Upon procuring the money, before he handed it to me, he pet it gently and then kissed it several times, coins and bills alike.  He also mumbled incoherently at odd moments, but this constant mumbling was interspersed with coherent words pertaining to the situation, such as 'thank's and 'oh, ok' and 'goodbye'.  I of course was struck by the strangeness of his behavior, but it was explained to me later by Stephen that this particular person had obsessive compulsive disorder and something like Tourettes syndrome.  Crazy, in other words.

My first reaction to his behavior, which stretched all through the encounter, was a kind of prolonged shock.  After he left, Stephen immediately busted out laughing as he recounted to me my slack jawed reaction to this persons behavior.  Stephen and I shared a laugh as he explained to me what the strange ritual was, that the guy was OCD and was 'kissing his money goodbye'.  Amusement was followed almost immediately by introspective curiosity about what I had just witnessed.  I'm not sure if it was my imagination, but when I made eye contact with him it seemed as though his look was one of pleading apology... or maybe just a plain, barren plea... for something.  He looked at Stephen this way a couple of times too.   And finally... last but not least... I felt sympathy, sadness and remorse for my reflexive and habitual reactions to this nonordinary person.  And shame.  I hope I see him again so I can be nicer to him next time.  Maybe even treat him like a human being.

1 comment:

  1. There was a customer like that when I worked there. He was one of my favorites.