The Three C’s – Cranky, Conservative and Crazy

People – this is my longest post ever…and not a picture in sight… Oi!

The Cranky

Cranky people like me. I don’t know what it is about me – but if there’s a cranky, crabby, cantankerous curmudgeon about they seek me out.  I’ve been in several jobs where I get along just fine with the employee no one wants to deal with.

Same for teachers I’ve had – all the ones that people cannot abide, I’m fine with them.  I took a 400/500 level History of English Language class in graduate school as an out of discipline elective and it was taught by the most unhappy person I’ve ever encountered. He was a hardass too – he would tell you flat out that he would not be answering stupid questions or ones obviously not well thought out. And woe to the innocent that raised his/her hand to ask a question.  He did not suffer fools or students gladly.  His class was so hard that he didn’t have a different set of assignments for the graduate students (since it was a 400/500 level class, it meant that there were grads and undergrads in the same class and typically the prof would give the grads more work). We had lectures and one assignment, which was optional – and he highly suggested we do it. The midterm was essay format (my favorite) and people would be in the class taking the midterm and some of them would just burst into tears, jump up and run out…never to be seen again.  I got my midterm back and the comment was basically this was good enough for the midterm but would not be acceptable for the final.

It was the HARDEST class I ever took and the most fascinating ; plus I was determined to get an A or B (because I was sort of freaked out that if I got a C, I’d be on academic {double secret} probation for my entire stint in grad school ). I did the assignment (only about 5 of us did it) and spent a lot of time getting familiar with Old English – when the final came about, people that had actually gotten through the entire semester, freaked out during the test, and again we had jumping up, crying/yelling and running out the room.

I swear I’d never been in a class where that happened.  And by the end, the prof even JOKED with me and cracked a smile.  I think blood spurted from his eyes when he smiled but I could be making that up.  At any rate – I survived and passed the class (with an A even – surprise of surprises).

The Conservative

Along with cranky people, conservative people seem to glom on to me as well. I’m not conservative – but I’m pretty easy to get along with.  It’s always the men that seem to want to befriend me. I think it’s because they think I’m ‘interesting’ – or I look ‘weird’ or I’m some sort of ‘free spirit’ (I hate that term)… but then the things about me that they are attracted to become the first things they want to change about me.  Remember the song “Voices Carry” by ‘Til Tuesday (and I am not mentioning that band because they are named after a FAVORITE Bowie song called “Love Ya ‘til Tuesday)? That song illustrates my point perfectly. The straight guy falls for the weird girl…and then he’s embarrassed for people to see them together.

Right after I graduated with my sociology/Deaf studies degree, I worked at a place with a deaf guy. And of course, he was totally oral. Meaning that he did NOT want to use American Sign Language and did not identify with the Deaf community (the capital D is intentional) or Deaf culture. He saw ASL as something shameful… fine – that’s his deal, not mine. So he developed a crush on me – which was funny because I was involved in the Deaf community at the time and could not see eye to eye about his attitudes on communication.

And then, of course, there were the pictures in his office.  He had three photos of his ‘idols’… Ronald Reagan (gak), The Pope (meh, grew up Catholic – doesn’t bother me too much) but the last picture was the clincher… Rush Limbaugh.  I cannot abide him nor do I want to tolerate being by people that admire him.  Obviously, anyone that knows me – knows I was with my husband at that time – so it was always a “no go”…but the point being – why would this guy have an attraction to me when we are so diametrically OPPOSITE?

I do not feel horrified by conservatives (well, ‘teabaggers’ horrify me) – my entire family is conservative – and those that delight in intelligent discourse, I very much enjoy talking to about politics.  As well, I am very fond of David Brooks – he’s my favorite conservative on The NewsHour. Not surprisingly, I tend to get along better with fiscal conservatives rather than social conservatives.   Amongst my Republican friends, we agree to either not talk about politics or we agree to be respectful.  What more can you ask?

And of course the last group that seems to love me is the crazies.  I’ve talked about that extensively in this post – but rather than make you go there… I’ll just paste it in right here…

The Crazy

San Francisco is a hard city for me. Riding the bus is also a challenge for the same reason. I’m sure some of you know what I’m alluding to. There are a lot of us around. . We’re called ‘freak magnets’ – there is something about us that inevitably draws the weirdoes.

We don’t ask for this – it just happens. We just ARE through no fault of our own.
You’ve probably see it happen – someone, somewhere, innocently just standing there, minding their own business, a bizarre person comes along and all of a sudden WHAMO – a hilarious story is born. One of my freak magnet friends does like to ‘poke the jellyfish’ (yes, Annie – I’m looking at you) – so I guess some of us seek it out more than others.

I do not. I am, however, a people watcher and I like to make eye contact. I think that’s where it inevitably goes wrong. Nothing draws the crazy like a little eye contact. Now that I have a child, I spend more time avoiding some of the venues where freaks are likely to verbally assault me or glom on to me because it’s very scary for a young child to witness these unsettling albeit at times COMICAL events.

It probably hasn’t helped that I’ve held several jobs that encourage the freak encounters. Baker at a hippie restaurant, working in a natural foods co-op (nothing entices the deranged like organic bee pollen), vocational assessment and a university reference librarian for the evening shift.

I want to point out that I am not insensitive to the seriousness of mental illness. I am not making fun of anyone – but I am also not blind to the fact that sometimes things get a little bit funny.

The following vignettes are all true, all happened to me and all memorable in their own special way. I hope you enjoy them.

I’m the Freak in the Store

I guess it’s only fair to start with myself.

I’m a morning person – so what I was doing at a grocery store at 1AM I cannot say. It was a rarity, to be sure. Anyway, I was wearing my typical attire, tee shirt and cotton hippie skirt, held together with safety pins. I was looking at cheese and thinking about how many bizarro people shop at 1AM. Then, without any warning, my skirt falls off. And of course, as I look around at everyone looking at me, I realize I’m the freak in the store.

Punched in the Kidneys and Spat Upon

The summer after graduating high school, I was visiting Uncle and my “poke the jellyfish” friend Annie in California. So one night my Uncle takes us to Hollywood, drops us off and leaves us to it. Annie & I are decked out black boots, long black skirts, black cloaks, big bangs and lots o’make-up. It’s the late 80s.

So we’re walking around Hollywood when all of a sudden it occurs to me that we are the only females walking alone. Well the only ones walking alone without something to sell… Eventually a weirdo zones in on our presence and starts making suggestive comments to us. We just look straight ahead and keep walking (I’m really nervous at this point). The guy doesn’t take our lack of interest in what he’s got to offer well, so he proceeds to spit on us and punch me in the kidneys. That was the first and only time I’d been physically ‘assaulted’ by a stranger.

You NOT Nomal!

I have to admit – this is one of my FAVORITE stories.
I worked for about 3 years as an assistant vocational evaluator. Basically, you get a referral from an agency to provide an intake interview and then a series of vocational tests to help determine someone’s vocational possibilities, including reasonable accommodations. We always started client interviews at 9AM – always. And we would sometimes have a client over two days for testing – they came back around the same time as well.

So one day, I am assessing some guy – we interview him and set him out in the main testing area (I’m a proctor for these tests) and the day progresses as it should. As an aside, I sometimes have to leave the room for a few minutes. Which I did that day.

Anyway, fast forward to the next day, the same guy comes back and is testing away. He’s the only client we have scheduled for that day. Around 10AM I receive a call from the front desk informing me that my ‘client’ has arrived. I am stymied – I don’t have a client scheduled (I also scheduled all the appointments). I walk out front and see a petite woman – I ask about the appointment. In a very thick accent she says she has a 10AM appointment. I ask if she’s sure it’s with us because I don’t schedule clients at 10AM. She starts to get really, really angry –insisting that she called and made an appointment. At this point it’s obvious that she is a few cards short of a full deck – believe me, you can just tell.

At some point during this exchange, unbeknownst to me, the guy I was testing walks out into the main reception area and starts to talk (totally oblivious to the ranting insanity going on around him). As soon as the woman hears this guy’s voice, her head whips around and she starts pointing at him and saying it was his voice that answered the phone and he took the appointment. I was surprised, as you can imagine. By this time, my boss has come out and she calmly asks the guy if he answered my phone and took an appointment. Well, yes, yes he did… (We later find out it’s kind of what this guy does – he likes to pretend)

Then the woman starts pointing and screeching at the top of her thickly accented voice to this guy “YOU NOT NOMAL! YOU NOT NOMAL! YOU NOT NOMAL!” I hope I don’t have to point out the irony of the situation to anyone…

Ya know when you are hit with uncontrollable laughter? The more you try to suppress it – the more intense it becomes? Well, I got hit with it and I had to walk to the other side of the building so that I didn’t come across as either totally insensitive to the situation or someone in need of an assessment.

Stalking From the Bus

I had one and only incident during my vocational assessment assistant years that reduced me to shaking with anger and having to ask a client to leave. It was a young kid, probably around 17 years old. I don’t remember exactly what he did but it ended with a lot of yelling (on his part) and me trying to hold it together as a professional. My boss was a godsend as she can diffuse almost any situation. She did- she sent him home. I calmed myself down and left a little early that day.

I decided to take a drive to the Food Co-op where I used to work. I was parking my car and getting off the bus right at the same time, is that same kid. I’m a little freaked out because the Co-op is not in the vicinity of where we assessed him (my assessment of him? NUTS). I’m wondering if he was stalking me…until I realize that you can’t really stalk effectively from the bus. And he didn’t even register any recognition when he happened to look my way. So within the space of 30 minutes he’d forgotten who I was – and meanwhile, I’m a paranoid mess.

Even funnier – the next day the same kid comes back to assessment facility and tells everyone in a very angelic voice that he’s going to be delivering the mail to all the offices in the building. He wasn’t – but he came back for about a week to tell us about his mail delivering job.

Milk from my Breasts

There is nothing more exciting than working at a natural foods store – especially a natural food store co-op, where everyone feels justified in letting you know their most intimate medical oddities. I guess they feel if they pay a $50 membership fee, that it entitles them to treat the employees as medical professionals.

I liked working there – but only really in the produce department OR behind the register. Most people hated working the register but I loved it. It was a very fast interaction with people, you had a counter between you and the customer and it was impossible for them to follow you around. Working on the floor however, was another matter entirely. You cannot adequately protect yourself against crazy with a bag of organic popcorn and a nori roll.

The most bizarro encounter there consisted of a huge childlike looking guy – he looked like baby Huey with thick glasses – that persisted in following me around so he could tell me that he had to wear a bra because he leaked a quart of milk every day from his breasts. And did I want to feel them. AAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I love San Francisco. I truly do. That is an incredible city. I couldn’t possibly live there. I’d need a cloaking device any time I had to pass Union Square.
I was visiting my friend, Lisa, in SF – she’d lived there about a year (give or take). She never had a problem with anyone. We start walking down the street together (I’d been in SF for about 5 minutes) and this guy starts SCREAMING in my face “IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER!”

For anyone that lives there – the Union Square crazy cat lady took a shine to me as well.

Signing Rainbow Suit Man

Sigh – it’s hard being pregnant; especially when your husband insists on taking you to see Alice Cooper when you’re 7 months pregnant. I was so gargantuan that I couldn’t sit in the chairs for a long period of time, so we stood near the back of the main floor.

I didn’t really get to see Alice Cooper perform because for some unfathomable reason a Jerry-Garcia looking guy in a rainbow suit, complete with rainbow cat-in-the-hat top hat insisted on standing right in front of me, facing me, singing all the lyrics to the songs. If it wasn’t for my protruding stomach, as well as his, keeping us apart, he’d have been able to stick his tongue out and lick my nose. I would move to the left, he’d move the right…I’d move to the right, he’d move to the left. Finally, Scott had to insist that the guy remove himself from my personal space.

No Left Turn Angelique

I belly danced for a number of years with a troop. We were for the most part, pretty normal people (all things being relative). Except one – Angelique. She was completely mental.

Of all the weird things about her, the weirdest was that she couldn’t turn left. Not when she danced (poor snake she chose to dance with) not when she drove. My friend drove with her once – just once.

So who has to dance with No-Left-Turn-Angelique? ME, of course. Why? Because the troop leader felt I was one of the easiest going dancers there and Angelique ‘liked’ me. Of course she liked me – she was a nutter. Even better, she chose to dance with lighted candles on her head – we kept a fire extinguisher standing by.

The scariest thing about her was that she was a NURSE at a nursing home. A NURSE! How did she get to be a nurse? She could barely add 2+2.

Watch out for the Weird Guy Outside

I was getting my hair cut once at a trendy salon on a street that attracts a lot of interesting people. As the stylist escorted me to the front to take my money, he leaned over and gallantly gave me a warning to ‘watch out, there’s a weird guy outside that seems to be looking at you’. I turned around to look, turned back to the stylist, nodded comprehension in a subtle manner, walked out of the shop and kissed my boyfriend AKA Weird Guy Outside right smack on the lips. When I turned around to smile at the stylist through the windows, I think he turned about 10 shades of scarlet.

Yikes – this is already over 2000 words long – that’s probably enough crazy for anyone.

About Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher

I'm a research librarian for Public Television, story teller, bike commuter, baker, music fiend, lover of reading & books, mother, wife, friend - and many more descriptive adjectives and nouns.
This entry was posted in Aversions, Family, Humor, Mental Health, Random Thoughts, Relationships, Story, Words, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

82 Responses to The Three C’s – Cranky, Conservative and Crazy

  1. klyse3 says:

    This whole thing is completely hysterical. The best part is definitely the last one though. Poor guy!

  2. El Guapo says:

    I’m lucky enough to attract too many weirdos because I’m generally quiet.
    And many of them aren’t phased by being ignored.

  3. You not Nomal… but I think that’s why I love reading your stuff. Even if there are no pictures.

    Do you want to feel my man-boobs? I couldn’t stop laughing.

  4. Reblogged this on The Mercenary Researcher and commented:

    Thought I’d do a little re-blog-a-thog today ~

  5. erickeys says:

    Wonderful stuff! Thanks for bringing a smile to my face! I’ll have to see if I can remember some of the weirdness I used to see working retail in Harvard Sq.

  6. Holy smokes, I used to feel like I attracted the nesters, but you take the cake!!

  7. "HE WHO" says:

    This is one instance when bigger is definitely better – because it’s so damn funny – and you can’! get too much of a good thing!

  8. djmatticus says:

    Enough? What? I want more crazy! 😀 Thanks for the laughs!

  9. OMG! (I never use this) I loved this post. I’ll admit I couldn’t read it all in one sitting because that’s just my life. Hilarious stories all told in your wonderful, hilarious voice. Can I turn you into a character in my book? Would you mind? I think you might attract the crazy because you’re open-minded and easy going. People feel safe with you. I think I could tell you my deepest secrets. See there? Now, you think I’m crazy?

  10. Pingback: WordPress Team Up: The Hook And The Mercenary Researcher. And More Indie Chick Goodness! | You've Been Hooked!

  11. You wrote cranky and here I am. I did check and my breasts are NOT lactating.

  12. twindaddy says:

    Ladycakes, this is hilarious. If I’m ever in AZ or you’re ever near Cincy, we simply must meet up so I can witness some of these events.

  13. La La says:

    You’re a wonderful story teller and a wonderful gal and I love you.

  14. calahan says:

    Oh, San Francisco, you always give us stories to tell. Santa Cruz is on par with the crazy people stories.

  15. I love these stories. I’ve been drawn to you since I was 15 but I hope that I don’t fall into any of these categories! I think the closest would be “crazy”.

  16. mairedubhtx says:

    I read this entire post (phew!) but really enjoyed reading about all the crazies you have dealt with in San Francisco. I have relatives in San Francisco and they love it passionately, probably because of the crazies. Who wouldn’t. I love you even if you’re conservative and I’m not. We just won’t discuss it and we’ll be respectful. You can be cranky; so am I. I’m a bit crazy, too. I love you posts, even the ones that run a tad long. But you’ll never beat Tracy’s opus.

    • I will never beat that…
      Thanks for reading the ENTIRE post… did you have to break for a breather?

      Wait – I’m not conservative nor cranky – but I am crazy! I love having variety in my life –

      SF was a fantastic city – my favorite is DC – I feel very comfortable there – which is odd as I tend to shy away from cities as I’ve gotten older.

      I don’t think I’ve read her Opus – I’ll have to seek it out

  17. No wonder I like you! I’m Cranky, Conservative (fiscally, that is) and Crazy!!!
    And for the record – Rush Limbaugh is not someone I could ever look up to, much less, look at! haha! He’s the dumbed down version of what it means to be a conservative. Occasionally he says something smart, and by “occasionally” I mean, as often as Obama brings the country together and unites us. So basically, never. 😉

    • I can get along with almost EVERYONE…but interestingly (and I may or may not have mentioned this to you before) – I have had Mormon friends my entire life that I’ve lived in Arizona. It is like a pattern that repeats itself – my friends all know I’m agnostic and they’re fine with it…my favorite story was going to a baby shower for my Mormon neighbor/friend…every woman there asked the other women which ward or stake (is that the proper spelling?) they were from…except for me – not one person asked if I was Mormon… I must look agnostic…

      And Grippy – I loves ya no matter what your affiliation! I hope people don’t take my post wrong – I’m always amused/delighted by the different people that are in my life –

      • Denise, I never would read that into anything you write. Anyone with your sense of humor and intelligence could never be mistaken for an excluder. I love a good, playful and civil exchange of thoughts and ideas. I love people, especially MY PEEPS. You’re my friend, Denise. That won’t change.
        The Mormon thing doesn’t surprise me. I went to BYU and it seemed half the population was from Arizona! You probably know more about the Mormon culture* than most people.
        **not to be confused with the Mormon religion!! I always say I like the religion not the culture – all the Molly Mormons make me gag!

  18. Yikes. Have never worked at a Health Food store, though I had a friend who was into just about every nutritional fad for a while. Freaky. I think the public library has to be the best place for crazies out there. I mean, it’s free, so you get people from literally all walks of life. Lots of mentals, but you still had to try to complete their deranged reference requests.

    I had one conservative guy that thought I was fascinating because, as he said, I was “an attractive liberal agnostic living in Texas. Like some rare specimen he wanted to examine.” Um, okay. He also assumed I just liked going against the grain. Yeah, I choose to be a complete weirdo and total opposite of everyone around me. This guy was on facebook. Another reason I try to avoid that site these days.

  19. The Hook says:

    My friend,
    You managed to find a way to be serious – as so many of our blogging allies seem to be these days – while still being silly and fun.
    I cannot thank you enough.

  20. MissFourEyes says:

    Every one of those cracked me up! You must introduce me to some of these crazies, I don’t think I meet enough of them.
    hmm….or maybe it’s because I AM one of the crazies.

  21. unfetteredbs says:

    I love the Nomal story– actually I love them. You do have a certain quality now don’t you? lactating male breast–yuck.

  22. rossmurray1 says:

    I have learned much wisdom here.

  23. TAE says:

    No kidding it sure is long…
    I know the kind of man that likes you and then wants to turn you (for me it was the independence and attitude that lured them, and then lured them to say “now be submissive!”). I also know about the people-watching problem…though I’m not into eye contact all that much, it ALWAYS happens.

  24. Carrie Rubin says:

    I’ve always gotten along great with the cantankerous teachers and co-workers, too. Maybe it’s because I don’t put up with their bull, and they like that. Plus, it’s fun to dish it right back at them. They seem to like that, too. In fact, maybe I’M one of those cantankerous people…

    I don’t attract the crazies though, but I do love San Francisco. One of my favorite cities to visit. But thank God no man has ever asked me to feel his lactating breasts…

  25. Le Clown says:

    I will not like this post yet, as I haven’t read it, but I just wanted to ease your mind, and tell you that you shouldn’t worry… That 8000+ word post by Tracy will never be beaten…
    Le Clown

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