26th August, 2016. 8:27 am. Paranoia and Last Night
I've been unable to really cook at home for a while, now. I mean, I could, but with the state of the kitchen and all the moving-in/moving-out going on, it's not been my first choice. That said, on my way home last night, I felt like I could afford to eat out. So I drove to a nice, neighborhood restaurant a few blocks from home.
I parked a bit further out than I normally would (the lot was kinda-sorta full) and walked across, between the cars, towards the main door.
I did not make it to the sidewalk before a bald guy, about my age but rather slender, interrupted me with an apology and started to tell me his life story.
Now, I've been here, before. I've been approached by strangers who start telling me about their problems as a prelude to asking for money. So, I was already on my guard for bullshit. And, truthfully, my bullshit-meter was clicking fairly heavily as this guy went on.
He told me how he was waiting in the parking lot for one of the only two friends he had in this life, a former commanding officer from his old days in the military. I asked if it was Desert Storm (back in '91) and he said, "yes". That person was supposed to help him. With what, I didn't know.
This fellow showed me some faint scars on the side of his face. They kinda went back over his left ear and bald head. He said he got them when shrapnel killed two of his patrol, "and it should have taken me, too."
About this time I encouraged him to join me on the sidewalk. He agreed as other patrons walked past us into the restaurant.
He went on to tell me how he spent 18 years in prison (out of a 32-year sentence) for killing the man who molested his daughter. Apparently, Al Quie, former governor of my home state of Minnesota, came to visit him in prison every week promising to get him out "because all soldiers need to come home". He told me that the former governor got his sentence reduced.
And, yes: my bullshit meter kept clicking over. But I didn't stop this tale-telling. I was a bit nervous because, in part, of how the guy was acting: a bit twitchy. And scared. He seemed embarrassed or unwilling to say what he wanted. He still hadn't gotten around to asking me for money. He just kept telling me more and more about his life.
He told me how he had depression. I told him I was in the same boat and, until about 2 months ago, had gone through a very hard year without proper medication. I didn't mention to him how I was having troubles, still. I wanted to reassure him that I understood. Even if I wasn't sure he was telling the full truth, there was something in his mannerisms that said "mental illness". I can empathize with that; understand it.
He went on to say that his wife divorced him while he was in prison and he lost his kids. They were grown, now.
He told me that his daughter was in her 30s, now, (maybe her 40s ... I don't recall the exact details) but that she had been in some sort of accident and was in a coma. She lived in Moorhead (up by Fargo) and he finally managed to say that he wanted to visit her.
I asked what I could do to help, still pushing for him to say it, but he kept beating around the bush. He said that it was his car --this white car, over by the lamppost in the lot-- that he had, there. I finally asked if he thought his car would make it up to Moorhead. He said he wasn't sure and I asked if he needed some money to get up there.
Then, finally, he said that's what he needed.
I honestly am not entirely sure why I did what I did, next. I told him that the restaurant had an ATM in it and I could go in and get him $100.
I didn't really believe him but I empathized with him. He said he didn't want sympathy and I told him that I did have sympathy for him but that's not why I was trying to help. I told him I wasn't very wealthy (a truth) and that I'd had mental health issues recently (also a truth) and could spare a hundred bucks (not true).
You see, I'm on the verge of losing my home if I can't get a good stream of income coming in. I also have friends who are very poor and need my help, too. So, no: I couldn't really afford it. But I wanted to help him ... even though I didn't really believe him.
I mean the sheer amount of crap he was describing was the biggest red flag. Plus, of course, coming up to a complete stranger in a parking lot outside of a restaurant was also a red flag. There are plenty of places a person can go for help that aren't a restaurant parking lot ... even if they're meeting an old friend.
He did say something about one of his friends betraying him and him punching that guy (his talk of killing and violence, I will confess, made me nervous). Again, the full details are a bit of a blur.
But I did go inside. I did withdraw $100. I gave it to him as he asked me for my cell phone number and email address. I used my cell to text him my email address ... the one I use to sign up for things I have no intention of ever answering. (A junk email account.) But since I texted him, he does have my phone number.
He promised to pay me back, double. He promised to take me out for dinner. He said that he knew his daughter would wake up from her coma if she could only hear his voice. I did not say that I thought that was "too much" even for a soap opera. But I thought it. I also said he didn't need to pay me back.
He had me shake his (bandaged and allegedly broken) arm and then brought me in for a hug.
I bade him farewell and went inside. I didn't see where he went. I checked my pockets and made sure I'd not been pick-pocketed. I got a table for one and started getting afraid. What if this guy was now waiting outside to follow me home and mug me? Should I call the cops? What if he really had all these problems and I was thinking so poorly of him?
I couldn't see the parking lot from where I sat but, as dinner progressed, I Tweeted my concerns. By the meal's end, I was a wreck.
I slowly left the restaurant, making sure I was in the company of others, and looked around for him.
There was no sign.
The white car he said was his, was still parked there.
I was pretty sure, by then, that he'd lied or I'd mistaken which car he'd been talking about. But there were several it could have been. I was pretty sure it was the white one, though. And before going to my car, I looked around, warily to see if he was there. He was nowhere to be seen.
I checked my back seat before unlocking and getting into the car.
Then I drove away from where I lived. I drove around for 45 minutes and even stopped at a gas station to put air in my tires. Everywhere, I looked for him to see if he was following me. I didn't see him.
Eventually, I drove towards home.
After a few blocks away from the gas station, on a back-road, I saw a white sedan --just like the one he'd told me was his-- following me about 2 blocks back.
I couldn't see the driver at all. I had no idea if it was him but a decent size of my mind said it could very well be.
At the next stop sign, I took a left and checked my rearview mirror.
The white car wasn't there. It wasn't even stopped at the corner by the stop sign. I got a block and a half away before I finally saw it go through the stop sign, continuing in the direction it had been going on the frontage road. It was as if he had stopped, just out of sight, to assess what I was doing.
This terrified me.
I drove around even more, now scared to go home.
I even drove past the restaurant, again, and saw that the white car (I think it was the same one) was still parked there.
As I said before, I drove around for a total of 45 minutes. Then, nervously, I went home after driving by an old house I used to live in, 11 years ago. This time, I saw no one following. No white cars, no nothing.
I parked, closed the garage door, gripped my keys like Wolverine's claws, and jog-walked to the side door of my house. I went in, locked the door, and dead-bolted it.
I was supposed to join my roommate to clean up the kitchen.
I did not.
I went upstairs, closed my bedroom door, contemplated locking it, and just went online.
I still don't know who this guy was (although he gave me his name; I logged it on my cell phone's "Notes" feature) or what was truth out of what he said. I'm afraid, still, that he may be setting me up for future scams: that he could phone me or email me or something. I honestly don't know. I am not sure what to do. But I didn't see any sign of him or his car this morning.
I want to help people. But I also am wary of them.
I don't know if there's a point to all this, really, except for the fact that my anxiety and fears may have ruined a perfectly honest request for aide. Or maybe I'm being set-up for something like identity theft. I checked my accounts this morning to make sure there were no unauthorized transactions (there weren't).
So now I'm looking over my shoulder and waiting for the other shoe to drop.
I hate that I'm this suspicious but it has been at the crux of my mental illness issues for years.
Hopefully I'll never hear from him again.
That, sadly, seems to be a best-case scenario.
Current mood: paranoid.
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14th August, 2016. 4:59 pm. Depression == Ennui
It's an odd feeling. I don't feel good but not particularly bad, either. But this feeling of ...boredom?... is slowly whittling me away. This morning, I tried to accomplish some writing and managed to get a couple hundred words into something I started last night, but then I got interrupted for no real reason. It derailed me and undermined me. I left the house but couldn't get myself back on track after the roommate interruption.
Then, it came time for a con-comm meeting. I felt terrible: backed into a corner and freaked-out by all the people. I couldn't wait to get out of there. It was terrifying.
I got back home, decided to try and write again, but felt nothing. Just a big, empty hole.
I thought about food but nowhere enticed me.
In short, it's been a day of descent into ennui
or, as I know it, "depression". I can't be stirred. Emotionally, I'm gone. Physically, I'm tired. Socially, I'm feeling out-of-touch.
I tried to be social, today, but didn't manage it.
I really am finding it hard to even get out of this chair.