Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Strange But True

I have told you before how my siblings and I seemed to attract strange people. It aggravated my mother because she really did not find them amusing or entertaining. At times she worried for our safety.

Then I married. Unfortunately I married a man who seemed to have the same knack for attracting strange people. I will tell you about a few.

There was a strange young man who wandered into our place of business one day. He seemed shy and when he talked he would drop his head and speak into his chest. Of course my husband hired him.

He was so strange that even I wanted nothing to do with him. My husband said maybe we should allow him to come home and stay with us. I stood my ground and refused. We had four small children. This guy was really weird.

There was the day my husband did bring him home. I did not want him there.

I finally said he could bathe and leave. It was quite late and I relented and said he could spend the night.

I told my three boys to push their dresser against their door when they went to bed. Their room was next to ours so we would hear before he could get at them. I took my daughter to bed with us.

Now I was not worried about him molesting the children. I simply was not sure about his mental state. I did not know who he talked to when he was seemingly talking to himself. I did not want him in my house. He was to leave in the morning and not come back.

In the course of our business we often took truckloads of merchandise across the bridge to another country. At the bridge customs inspected the truck, the merchandise, and the people in the truck.

One day this young man went along for the ride. At customs they asked him about his citizenship. He lowered his head and mumbled into his chest. After several tries the agents took him from the truck and put him into a holding area. They sent the truck driver on his way.

My husband went and managed to get him released. He decided to go home wherever that was. He was hitch-hiking late at night and jumped in front of a car to make it stop so he could get a ride. The driver did not see him until it was too late. He was killed instantly. Someone should have gotten treatment for him when he was much younger.

I am not sure where Crazy Jim came from. It seemed as if he had always been there.

He was one of those people who seem to be normal until you start to talk to him. His ideas were "off-the-wall" and odd. He seemed to be obsessed with the way people's (especially female people) bodies functioned. It was never a sexual thing. I think he just wanted to learn.

A few months after he began to hang out around my husband he met my husband's brother's family. He felt right at home (They were collectors too.)

He halfway moved into their home. My sister-in-law would complain to me that he was constantly going through the medicine cabinet and other storage places in the bathroom. He did not take anything; he was just snooping.

He was always hungry. My sister-in-law said she could not keep any food because he ate it all. He did not work so he was underfoot for her all day. When my brother-in-law came home from work Crazy Jim latched onto him.

My niece had no patience with him. She kept kicking him out. He would wait until his "buddy" came home from work so he could go back in the house.

My brother-in-law would tease my children the way any good uncle will do. One day my oldest son won a rubber hot dog at a carnival. He decided to get his uncle before his uncle could get him.

With a little help from his aunt who supplied a bun and some mustard my son served the hot dog to his uncle. His uncle saw what it was and did not want it. Crazy Jim almost  hurt himself grabbing the hot dog. He was disappointed when he bit into it. He did eat the bread and mustard though.

The Keyman was called that because he just knew he was going to get rich making keys. After his mother died he sold her house and lived in a camper. And made keys.

He was another who latched onto my brother-in-law after he was introduced. I might interject here that part of the reason was that I would not allow these people to stay with us. My sister-in-law was much nicer than I.

The Keyman also began to take his meals at my brother-in-law's house. But he ate regular meals and did not take everything thing else in the cupboard.

He did however hook up his camper to the house electricity so he would not have to pay for his own.

For a time The Keyman and Crazy Jim lived together. That was only until they could no longer tolerate each other and a fight broke out.

Both of them have also died. It ended their loneliness.

This partnership will be a bit confusing as I introduce them. Please bear with me. Bob was a nice young man with a family when we met him. He worked at the junkyard doing whatever was asked of him. He was a house painter by trade and belonged to the union. He would no longer paint for some reason.

Bob was a veteran of the Viet Nam War. As with many he was not quite right. He was deemed to be 100% disabled and received a whole $80 per month. His children received more than he did. He was always a nice guy.

Bob's wife left him for someone else. He never really grasped what that meant.

Red was a teenager when we met him. Again a nice guy. My sister dated him for a few months. Eventually they were no longer seeing each other. We took him over to my brother-in-law's house. It was there he met my sister-in-law's sister. In time they were married and had several children.

Their marriage did not last. Neither did mine. Red's ex-wife and my ex-husband married a few years later. Red was sure they had been seeing each other all along. I am just as sure that they were not.

So Red and Bob became friends. They came up with the idea that rather than work for their drug money they would become panhandlers.

In the big city panhandlers often stand at the exit from the expressway begging for money. These people often take in more money in a few hours than many of us do all week. But these two got greedy.

They discovered that if they jumped too close to a car or even in front of it and claimed to have been hit the motorist would be more likely to give them a large amount of money rather than wait for the police and have to file an insurance claim. It was a good scam for them. For a while.

One day Red jumped out in front of a loaded semi truck. Of course the driver could not stop. Red was hit and severely injured. He was in the hospital for more than a week before he died.

I lost track of Bob. I hope he was able to beat his addictions and is doing well.

Everybody called him Doc. I never knew his real name. He was a middle aged man who owned his own tow truck. He worked for us for a couple of years. Most of the time I think he lived in his truck.

Doc was diabetic. He kept his insulin in his truck which was not a good idea. The temperature in the truck was not good for storage of a medication that needs to be kept cool. It was also not hygienic. No one could convince him that his lifestyle was dangerous to his health.

Eventually his disease bested him. Another death.

There was an older man who worked in a junkyard near us. They did not pay him because he had a drinking problem. I think they meant well but giving a person a couple of meals each day does not compensate him for all the work he did.

When he began to work for us we made sure he had what he needed as well as his salary. If his drinking was monitored he was less likely to lose control of it.

He once told me that he did not know how old he was. He had a sister in one of the southern states. He knew her name and had an old address for her. Because he could not read or write I wrote to her for him. There was never a reply.

He became too old to do the manual labor he had done all his life. He was still alert. I needed someone to care for my children when they came home from school until I came home from work. The old man stayed with us and we cared for him in return for watching the children. They loved him so it was a good arrangement.

One night there was a fire across the street from us. Of course we climbed out of bed to have a look.

A couple of older women lived next door to us. They came over to discuss the fire. Then one of them leaned over to ask me about the man staying with us. I explained that he was there to help with the children,

She whispered, "But he's black." I whispered back, " I know. But it doesn't rub off." I always wished I had told her that he was the real father of the kids. Oh well.

He grew tired of staying indoors and moved on. They found him in a car at a used car lot. It was the middle of winter and he had climbed in to try to get warm. It was too late.

There was a man who worked for us in the junkyard. He was a decent worker and we got along with him. But he was not a good family man.

He had several children but this is about his oldest son. I cannot say he was a good kid. His father taught him to steal cars. The reasoning was that if he got caught he would only be sentenced to a juvenile facility rather than prison.

The man was cruel and apparently beat his wife and children when the mood hit him. Sometimes he would want to hit his wife but was either too drunk or too lazy. So he would make his son go beat his mother.

The kid would come over to visit at our house often. He was always polite. And believe it or not he never tried to take anything from us. If we allowed the kids to run across the street to get some candy he went along to make sure they were not cheated.

Even after my husband and I went our separate ways he stayed in touch with each of us.

He came to me one night and told me his mother was in the hospital. He had no way to go see her and it was in a neighboring city with a better hospital. I told him I would take him.

When we got to the hospital he said he would find some way home. I told him I would stay with him.

That was when I learned his mother was dying.

I stayed at the hospital with him all night. He slept on the floor when he could sleep.. His mother died the next morning. He was hurt but glad he had been there for her. She knew he had never wanted to hurt her.

He sort of latched onto my son in later years. He had a serious drinking and drug problem. My son would feed him and let him clean up at his house.

He had been gone a while. My son rented the house to someone else and moved to a new house. The kid went to the house looking for my son. Of course the people told him my son did not live there now. He did not believe them and threatened them. They called my son.

My son went there immediately. There was the kid breaking out windows in his anger.

When my son stopped his car the kid walked over to him ready to hit my son. Instead my son hit him.

He fell down, jerking convulsively. My son thought he had killed him and panicked. He jumped in his car a left.

The mother and grandmother of my son's oldest daughter called him demanding to know what happened. Apparently the kid (who I should point out is at least 10 years older than my son) revived. The two women took him into their house. It was not a fun time for them. He had soiled himself.

The next time my son saw him he said, "You're not going to hit me are you?"

There is a partially happy ending. The kid is a friend on Facebook now.

My sister had been divorced for a while. She began to see a young man and was anxious for me to meet him. I have to tell you that in the beginning every time he stood near my sister my fists were balled up ready to strike.

Then I warmed up to him a bit. That was when I found out that his best friend from childhood was the leader of the local Nazis. Needless to say I was furious.

My sister's boyfriend was having a birthday party and she asked if my husband and I would go. I said absolutely not. She begged. She pleaded. She said they had promised that no one would come in uniform. His parents (who also did not approve) were going to be there. I relented and my husband and I went.

You can guess what happened next. In walked the Nazis in full regalia. I was ready to leave.

I was sitting in a chair across the room from my husband trying to get his attention. One of those people came over and began whispering in my ear. He was trying to make time with me!

His mistake was bragging about him being a Nazi. As he was degrading Jews I turned to him ever so sweetly. I smiled my most adorable smile. In the most genteel voice I could muster I innocently said, "You know I'm Jewish don't you?"

My husband was roaring with laughter as the guy slid on his bottom across the floor with his hands up in a shielding position. He was horrified.

Once the Nazi group disbanded the leader became a loyal friend to my ex-husband. He had lost everything including his family. They moved on. He became very ill and died.

The reason I thought to write this now is that I received a Facebook friend request from another kid who is no longer a kid. He was an odd kid who was so anxious to please. Many people took advantage of him. A lot of them teased him. But he had a good heart.

I was surprised to hear from him. I had just been talking to my son about him and wondering what became of him.

He had been the best friend of the brother of one of my friends. He was devastated when his friend died of a drug overdose. To my knowledge he did not do drugs himself.

My friend and I were good to him and I think he felt like no one else was. She and I are his only Facebook friends from the people we know.

He came to my house one day to show off his "new" car. It was a clunker but it was his and he was so proud.

When we went out to look at it one of the tires was flat. I told him I had a can of Fix-A-Flat he could have. He happily went out to put it in his tire so he could drive to get a different tire.

In a few minutes he came in and said it did not work. I went out to check on it. I saw the foam from the Fix-A-Flat oozing from at least 20 little holes.

He is now living in another state. He has a family and seems to be doing well. That makes me feel good.


  1. You and your family have kind and generous hearts, Emma. You may never know how you affected someone's life.

    1. Being nice takes little effort. Everyone deserves some kindness.

  2. Many interesting stories. I agree with Marie. You were kind.

    1. As I said these are but a few. As the old comics used to say, "I've got a million of 'em".

  3. My old English teacher Mr. D.P. Morris would congratulate you for telling us in your first or topic sentence what you were going to tell us about in the rest of the essay and then having the ability to stick to your topic and not stray from it. And boy, do you ever. Every single person you wrote about was strange indeed!

    My mother used to quote an old Quaker saying that went, "Everybody is crazy except me and thee, and even thee is a little bit crazy."

    1. Your English teacher would not be happy about my punctuation or the occasional ending a sentence with a preposition. I know the correct forms but I am lazy. I heard the saying slightly different. "Everyone is crazy except me and thee, and sometimes I wonder about thee."

  4. you and your husband has generous hearts but still i feel so afraid to have stranger in house .
    Happy valentine day dear!

    1. I did not let my husband move any of them into my house. My children are too important to me.

  5. When I first started reading this post, Emma, I was prepared by your lead-in sentences to meet a few interesting people. By the time I was done, I could not believe how many characters had come into your family's lives. And, more amazingly, how you can recall them all with such detail!

    1. As i said there are a lot more. My family is like a magnet for weirdos.

  6. I would feel the same way as you probably, protective of the kids. You and your family have good hearts that you were blessed with many life's precious experiences.

    1. That is one way of viewing it. I hate to see anyone suffering or feeling alone. But I do not want to become their mother.