Thursday, January 04, 2007

Red Leader this is Gold Leader

My prior post really got me to thinking about the unfortunate people who go around hearing voices. I realize that mental illness is a serious affliction that affects around 60 million people and I honestly hope that science can, one day, eradicate it, forever. Until then, I hope to be able to do my part in helping make life easier for the sufferers.

Now don't
get me wrong, I don't have any delusions of 'curing' anyone or making some great 'breakthrough'. I was thinking more along the lines of helping the previously mentioned group who hear voices and have single conversations be able to better go about their daily lives without people always gawking at them or making fun of them after they go by. You know what I'm talking about, you're minding your own business, walking down the sidewalk and there's some disheveled guy, completely alone, walking toward you looking kind of paranoid and talking to beat the band. You don't want to, but you can't help but try and hear what he's saying. As he gets closer, you can't make out a single word until he raises his voice and shrieks something like, "But the carrots are purple!" Then, you try to self implode and take up a negative amount of space until the guy is completely past you at which point you breath a sigh of relief and return to the normal space-time continuum, thinking to yourself, "What a fruitcake."

We can't help noticing and reacting anymore than the talkers can stop talking, but I think I may have stumbled upon an idea that could help everyone. I had to make a quick trip to the grocery store, and as I crossed the parking lot I noticed a woman sitting on a bench with her grocery bags having a rather loud conversation. As I drew near, she noticed me, lowered her voice considerably, and looked at me in a very suspicious manner. My immediate thought was, "Ground control to Major Tom," as I looked down and shuffled into the store. As I maneuvered my way to the produce section, I found myself behind a lurching woman with wild hair having a very animated conversation involving lots of hand motions. At this point, I'm thinking, "Maybe there's a convention in town," and as I go around her I notice her 'hands-free' ear-piece and the wire trailing down into her pocket. When I realized she was on the phone I started to completely ignore her and then I thought, "Wait a minute, how do I know she's really on the phone?" As I stood there, transfixed, I watched as she worked her way through the crowded produce section; from the tomatoes to the onions and on to the exotic fruits, all the while talking and waving her arms and not a single solitary person gave her more than a glance. The glance was the key. Our brains have become so accustomed to open conversation that our eyes can register an ear-piece as fast as they can detect the word 'free' (or 'sex'). If we see an ear-piece, regardless of the conversation, we completely ignore the person and tune out what's being said. If we don't see an ear-piece we think, "Nut-job!" and stare out of curiosity, revulsion or because we think it's funny while feeling slightly uncomfortable.

I propose that, from this day forward, all used or discarded hands-free devices be given to people who hear voices and have conversations with said voices and/or people who simply have a penchant for having out-loud conversations even though no one else is in their general vicinity. The devices don't have to work and there's not even a need for the actual phone. That's the beauty of it! They'll be able to talk all they want while looking stylish and never have to worry about minutes or being made fun of. It's win-win!

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