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Reader Submission

28 August 2008 7 Comments

While I’m on jury duty, we get a lunch break and there is a cafeteria in the court house. So, I’m getting on the elevator after lunch, back up to the courtroom. Ahead of me, a woman is mumbling to herself. We are the only two on the elevator. She turns to look at me and thrusts the sandwich in my face. “You see any lettuce on this sandwich?” she asks. I open my mouth to speak but she interrupts. “This damn sandwich costs $4.50. I ain’t have but 4 dollars. I told the man I ain’t paying but $4 for it. There were other sandwiches out there with no lettuce. And they cost $4 dollars. NOT $4.50. You know what I’m saying?”

I did not know what she was saying. I thought about asking her why she didn’t just buy the sandwich she could afford. But I did not.

“Would YOU pay $4.50 for a sandwich with no lettuce?” she asked me. And this time, she looked at me like she really wanted an answer. “No,” I lied. “I would not.”
The elevator opened and she walked out, still mumbling to herself.

Did I do the wrong thing by agreeing with her? What Would Thembi Do?

P.S. For the record, her sandwich DID have lettuce on it. I saw it plain as day.

There’s mental illness, and then there’s straight up crazy, and anyone who needs a stranger’s shoulder to lean on over some lettuce qualifies as the latter. And if there’s one place to find crazies it’s in a municipal building – municipal = general population, and genpop has a higher percentage of crazy than the workplace or most social scenes. I draw crazy like doggie doo draws flies, so you’re definitely asking the right person. The key to dealing with crazies is to just play along, don’t ask them nothin’ and don’t give them any extra information, so you did the right thing. True crazies believe that they’re normal and we’re all crazy, so if they can find a friend in you then your agreement may be enough to let them drop the issue. Going with the flow and convincing a woman with a screw loose that she actually has it all together not only soothes the sound of the ping-pong balls bouncing around in her brain, but it also keeps you from being the enemy. This strategy does have its limits: if the crazy decides to lead a revolt over the issue, you certainly don’t want to be involved. Should things advance to that next step, I usually tell crazy people that I’m on probation and don’t want to get into trouble. Works every time.


  • Ill Mami said:

    Great response, Thembi. You are absolutely correct. Court = crazy people run-ins. Interestingly, mental health court is generally a much calmer place.

  • Bryan said:

    Your blog has officially become the ONLY reason I make it through the day….ONLY

  • Thembi said:


    Its the only reason I make it through the day too. Trust me.

  • brohammas said:

    When in the court building and told way too much info from said crazy person; try saying, “yeah I totally knwo what ya mean. Yeah it’s crazy i thought they would never catch me but thank heaven’s for good lawyers, know what I mean?”

    Then just look them straight in the eyes and stop smiling.

    conversation OVER!

  • Regina said:

    LOL @ Brohammas!!!!

  • THE 78' MS. J said:

    That tell them you’re on probation and you don’t want to get in trouble line is priceless. Killing me with the typed words. Anywho have a wonderful weekend.

  • Phil said:

    I feel like i’m always defending crazies and light skinned folks on here.
    Real talk: a more annoying than usual morning at work + too much mayo or stinginess with the sweet peppers on my turkey hoagie = a effing problem for everyone

    Times are rough and the lettuce that they put on there was clearly not worth 50 cents…she was just a bit frusturated. That out of the way, i would have agreed too.

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