The Tale of Crazy Betty
Sit down boys and girls as we tell you the tale of Betty. She is a cashier at our local large chain pharmacy. (The names have been changed to protect the cuckoo.) Or, as we like to call her, Crazy Betty. Of course we would never call her that to her face, not that she would notice since her unhingement has long supplanted her ability to read others affect.
Paul says: Crazy Betty carries on one conversation all day and this discussion is evenly distributed over every customer that has the zany fortune to end up in her line. Notice that I did not say that it was a misfortune because there is nothing wrong with being caught up in Crazy Betty’s craziness short of a mild sensation of disorientation, kind of like that moment when you first notice that you have a good buzz going.
Since they sell both milk and diapers, their prices are reasonable and they are open 24hours a day, I find myself at this pharmacy quite often. Being that Crazy Betty works something like 16 hours a day, I end up in her line all the time. At this point I think that I seek her out like my own disheveled pusher.
‘Can you tell that he works for the Renaissance Faire?’ she asked me one day. These were the first words that she had said to me that day so I had no clue who ‘he’ was and, to be honest, I could not tell that he works for the Renaissance Faire. Apparently this was a continuation of a conversational thread that she had started some four customers before me. She continued talking with no obvious acknowledgement that she had just asked me a question, all the time ringing up stuff to put into my 2 year old and stuff to catch what comes out. I smiled, paid, and, with a feeling that I was just in an intense conversation but no memory of saying any actual words, I left. As I was leaving I heard her saying to the next customer, ‘he’s always loved sword fighting’.
Crazy Betty is an example of neurotic, not psychotic, though she hovers at that line, hanging ten like a world class surfer. She has found a job where her particular form of eccentricity is actually a boon. No one complains about Crazy Betty because she is nice and fun, albeit a bit dizzying. Here she gets to talk constantly, never letting the fear filled silence set upon her, and she gets kudos for her enthusiasm.
I’m a big believer in embracing our craziness, of walking right up it, putting an arm around its shoulder and giving it a big hug. The little everyday crazies are the windows into the more important things of our psyche. When I confess my belief in omens, what I am actually saying is that I trust in the divine to guide me. Crazy Betty’s need to talk is her way of keeping in contact with the real, non-imaginary, people of the world. It is a small acknowledgement of her need to connect with humanity. That little nuance is the difference between neurotic and psychotic. Like the old saying: Neurotics build castles in the sky. Psychotics live in them.
Lee says: One day, Crazy Betty said around me (she rarely talks to you) ‘You know he is the best Dad I have ever seen.’ I noticed she was directing her randomness to the other checker who also seemed caught in the headlights. I smiled and made sure Ricky was on one side and Bobby on the other. ‘Hey’, she said waving at me, ‘their father is the best Dad I said.’
Wow! This is where I refined my diagnosis of Crazy Betty. She actually did have some semblance of understanding with reality. She knew my husband and that he often frequented the store. She made an opinion about him based on his care of his kids. She could step out of her ramblings long enough to judge Paul’s parenting. Her verbal diarrhea was really nothing more than the lonely ramblings of someone with anxiety issues. And, she was right about him too!
Crazy Betty had marketed her crazy for the perfect career as a cashier at a large pharmacy chain. Most people walk in there feeling sick ready to pick up a prescription and Crazy Betty pulls you out of your ‘I’m Sick’ pity party and you get a glimpse at the machinations of an addled mind and think as you leave ‘Wow, at least I’m not that sick!’