This morning when I got to work, there was a message on the office phone. The message was from a woman who gave her phone number but no name. She was asking that someone pick her up. I returned the call prepared to give the woman the phone number for the county transportation department, who could send out a bus to her.
The person who answered the phone was the caller's sister, who said she had her sister staying with her, and . . . "She isn't feeling well . . . mental health wise. She thinks she's well enough to ride the bus. And she isn't. She's getting almost too bad to live with."
I know how the woman feels. "I understand," I said. "My mother..."
"...was like that?" the woman asked.
"Yes. And nobody helps you unless they're a danger to themselves or others."
But mentally unbalanced people can do a lot of damage without being called "dangerous."
As we hung up, I think that woman felt better. I felt worse, having been sucked back into The Bad Times With My Mother.
A few weeks ago, a woman called, having seen an ad for a business advertising "cash for houses." She phoned the number in the ad, and the receptionist didn't know how it worked and said she'd have a representative call back. She and her sister were trying to sell their deceased mother's home, and what did I think about it, did I know anything about that particular "cash for houses" business? The woman wasn't computer savvy, so I Googled the outfit and read a little about it. I counseled her to expect to get a lowball offer on her mother's house, if she just wants to dump the house, it would be a way to go. I hung up and said to Jane, "I feel like Dear Abby."
On October 21 and again on October 31, I picked up the phone at work to speak with a woman who was inquiring whether or not the Village would be having Halloween on the 31st. I'm not actually positive it was the same woman both times, but the voice was similar. On the 21st she explained that the weather forecast called for rain, and she didn't want to send her child out to trick or treat in the rain. On the 31st, the caller didn't offer any explanation for her concern. Both times, I think I said something like, "Halloween is Halloween. It happens on October 31st. It isn't something the Village schedules."
I suppose there are community groups that have Halloween gatherings, but they aren't affiliated with Village government. I won't be surprised if someone phones about when the Village will be holding Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Eve. The Halloween woman, or possibly, the Halloween women, has apparently grown up in a world in which she looks to the government for answers to her every question, and probably complains that the government tells her what to do every moment of each day.