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Monday, August 30, 2010

'Crazy Lady' on the #6 Jackson Park Express

This morning I took the #6 bus to downtown. Upon stepping on to the bus, I noticed a woman sitting in the seats facing inward, directly behind the bus driver. The fact that she was talking loudly and incessantly was overshadowed by the fact that she was talking to herself. Her top-of-the-morning gibberish was noticeably unwelcome by the Monday-morning commuters. It was not even 7:30am. I would bet most, if not all of us were annoyed by the fact that Monday morning had greeted us too soon, yet again. But in the spirit of big city urbanites everywhere, we ignored her and read our books, magazines and newspapers, or turned up the volume on our iPods. Most would agree in describing the woman as crazy.

But before you go feeling sorry for her and shaking your head in pity, hear this. By the time we reached downtown, the bus driver looks in his rearview mirror and says in an exhausted, yet authoritative tone: Ma'am? The woman in a meek voice: yes? She starts talking some more, but he interjects. This time, he turns around in his seat. Ma'am, come on, you're disturbing the people! Come on now! She then responds, wait for it...okay. And continues to talk, but substantially lowers her voice to a nearly inaudible whisper. So the question being, how crazy was she really? Was she even crazy at all? Maybe she was just obnoxious. I am caught talking to myself all the time. How crazy are crazy people? I have always asserted the belief that your average, homeless 'crazy' person, may have just 'checked out'. Now don't get me wrong, more often than not, the people we encounter on the street, out in public, are certifiably mentally ill. Prayer and medical attention is definitely needed in these cases. But still I often wonder, how many of the marginalized 'crazies' have just become fed up with holding on? I can tell you I have come close to losing it on many of occasions myself. Some might say I have even succeeded a time or two. What keeps us 'normal' people together? How close are any of us from walking down the street with no care in the world of our behavior or who is watching? How thin is the line between sanity and insanity? No matter how crazy we had all classified her in our minds, she wasn't that crazy. She knew what the bus driver was talking about and responded reasonably. Was she even crazy at all? Or just tired of conforming to sanity and the social norms associated with being 'sane'?

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