I stopped at a RiteAid tonight on St. Charles Ave and Louisiana. There was a guy in there who, at first, I thought was going to try to jump the line. Then I realized there was something not right with him. He was dressed in street clothes and clearly not an employee but his actions were confusing because he was acting like one. He walked up to the counter where there were a stack of papers, a microwave, and some unopened boxes of various products.
The man started to shuffle through the papers dropping some on the floor. He opened boxes of products and placed them in nearby baskets, reorganized the counter in no logical order, and put an empty plastic container in the microwave like he was cooking something but didn't turn it on.
When it was my turn to pay for my items, the cashier told me the man used to go to charity for help. I told her I thought it was sad that society does nothing to intervene to help people like him. She didn't volunteer to share her real thoughts until I got real about it. Then she agreed.
I was afraid the security guard might react but he was super chill. The guy walked out with some items. I was in the car by then watching to see if anyone freaked out. I was ready to protect him if I had to. A store employee was standing on the corner very upset (I think about the things the man had taken). The security guard didn't bat an eye, thank God, but how sad this man may never have the chance to be well because society protects his right to be sick while people laugh at him or are afraid of him because he's so confused.
The whole thing is deeply disturbing because I feel so helpless to help him and he was clearly very, very mentally ill. We can CIT* train the world, but if we can't treat and care for people to help them get well, what does it matter?
*CIT: Crisis Intervention Team Training is a program to help police officers react appropriately to situations involving mental illness or developmental disability.