In my last blog post, I introduced you to Margaret, one of the stranger people I met during my time on the psyche ward. Before you read this you need to read Margaret, Part 1. If you don't read that then what I'm about to write today in True Stories From the Psyche Ward, Margaret, Part 2, won't make as much sense.
Margaret could best be described as a mine field. You never knew which step was going to set her off. Even though she spent most of her time in her room, screaming at the walls and drinking water with five and six packs of Sweet 'n' Lo in it, she still found time to roam the halls or show up for meals.
This day was like any ordinary day. However, in the psyche ward, every little change in routine is a big deal. Today was one of those days. We were having a "Tornado Drill". I was not familiar with a "Tornado Drill". Fire Drills and those senseless Nuclear Attack Drills we did in the 1960's - crawl under your desk in front of a wall of windows would surely protect me from nuclear attack. "Tornado Drills" at the psyche ward made about as much sense.
We were all instructed to go to the Men's room and stand against the walls. That would protect us from flying glass, but the building was built around the Civil War and we were on the fifth floor. I'm sure it would crumble like a stack of graham crackers when exposed to the least bit of pressure. I guess, having us all in the Men's room would make it easy to find the bodies.
One thing you don't want to do is tell a bunch of people with mental disorders that there is going to be a "Tornado Drill" and then wait three hours. All the people suffering from paranoia were on high alert and kept asking, "When's the drill, when's the drill?"
The depressed people, fearing the worst, all sat curled up in chairs in a recreation room, covered with blankets. Those with anxiety, paced feverishly.
All of a sudden, the cry came out, "Tornado Drill, Tornado Drill, move to your positions in the Men's room. Everyone shuffled to the Men's room and took random places along the walls. Margaret was near the back of the pack and took a space along the wall about three people to my right.
We stood in silence for what seemed like an eternity, then Margaret blurts out at the top of her lungs, "ALL YOU NIGGERS GOT TO GO BACK TO THE PLANET YOU CAME FROM." No one made a sound. There wasn't a gasp or even a deep breath. My eyes were clamped shut waiting for all hell to break loose. You see, half the population was black and I'm sure they didn't appreciate that, but no one made a sound. I could swear I felt a little pee come out.
Another few minutes went by and we were told we could return to our rooms and the recreation area. Everyone shuffled out without a sound and we all went back to business as usual at the psyche ward.
What could have been a major disaster, passed by like a feather in the wind. And that's another true story from the psyche ward, Margaret, Part 2.