Thursday, April 21, 2011

Surrealism under the Golden Arches

The events described below happened the other week when I was in North Carolina at my parents.  The old post card (1950s vintage, I think) is of Wrightsville Beach, which was a great place to head to when your high school has an open campus and the beach was only five miles away… 

While in North Carolina a few weeks ago, I was sitting at a bar along a wall in the back of a McDonald’s, drinking coffee and using their free Wi-fi (as there is no internet access at my parent’s home).  It was quiet in the restaurant as it was late morning, a time when there are mainly senior citizen’s sitting around drinking coffee and swapping stories about fishing and the tragedy that Carolina didn’t make it to the Final Four.  Our tranquil morning came to an end when a guy entered the stored and sat down behind me, telling an elderly couple that he was the luckiest guy in the world…  “I’m a preacher,” he said.  “The Lord called me when I was just a teenager. And I’m now retired.”  I turned to my daughter, who was next to me and whispered, “Don’t you dare say anything to him.”  She smiled and nodded.

Although I didn’t turn around, I had a sense the lucky couple was pleased to be talking to a preacher.  But the more he spoke, the more his lack of piety became apparent.  He pulled out his computer and said he’d made gazillion dollars using it. “Not a million, mind you, a gazillion.”  He then went on about how he paid $1500 for his computer but couldn’t figure out how to get it online.  He asked a number of people and even showed it to me, pointing the place where he’d plugged it in at the hotel.  From what I could see, the computer didn’t have a wireless card and, considering the brand, there was no way it cost $1500.  He then started in saying he’d sell it for $500, suggesting that he’d already made enough money from it. I assumed he was a con-artist and his scam was to sell a worthless computer. 

I did my best to ignore him even though he tried on several occasions to bring us into his conversation.  I was busy posting some pictures to my blog.  On the TV mounted above the booths, of which many of the seniors were watching, the news media was going on and on about Congress trying to pass a bill to allow the government to function without a budget.  Forgetting his preaching gig, the guy started in on those in Congress, saying they all need their asses kicked and how “f***ed up they are.”  Some of the seniors agreed with him, but others started for the door.  He continued, showing himself to be an economic genius, saying that he didn’t know what the problem was, that they could just have more money printed.  A man tried to contradict him, but then it appeared he realized that it was useless.  A few more headed to the door.

At one point in the man’s diatribe, he started talking about his dad and how his Old Man was so proud of him, until he became smarter.  And then, there was the time his dad cussed out his mother and he had to beat his ass (obviously practicing up for the whipping he plans to give Congress).

Then, he started talking about how, on July 4th, he was going to buy this country.  He wasn’t going to be the President, because the President had to answer to Congress (except in invading countries, I thought to myself).  He was instead going to own this country (with his gazillion dollars) and run it in a way to help everyone (a real populist).  “I’m a preacher and the Lord told me to do this,” he reassured us.  He planned to stop foreclosures and give everyone money and take care of everyone’s needs.  He continued on about how, on July 4th, some Brazilian boxer was also going to get knocked flat in the ring (What boxing had to do with this, I have no idea, but July 4th is shaping up to be a real news day).  

The man is seems is also a prophet, obviously one without honor as there were fewer and fewer folks listening to his ramble.

The couple he’d started the conversation with stood up and was heading out the door.  He told them that it was good to talk to them and asked if he could do anything to help him.  The man said that he could use an extra $200,000 and the guy started rambling around looking for his checkbook.  He couldn’t find it, but he found a business card (he also is a fishing guide).  He gave him the card and told him to them to get up with him.  As they were walking out, he returned to his “preacher persona.” “I know you’re God-fearing people,” he said.  “Be careful for what you pray for because, for Christians, all prayers come true.”  I shook my head in disbelief, but there was no way I was going to engage this guy and ask about the prayers of others. 

At this point, the senior crowd was gone and I enjoyed a few minutes of peace.  Then, a young McDonald’s employee came back to our section and sat down on her break.  I heard the guy get up and go over to the booth next to hers where he began to flatter her saying she looked a lot like his ex-wife.  He described his ex-wife’s features and then told a sad story about her violent death…   I was feeling more and more uncomfortable with the direction of his conversation.  He asked her age and she said nineteen.  Then he said that’s too bad, because he didn’t hit on women under twenty-one.  I swung around in my seat, smiled at the young woman and gave him a stern look.  He talked for a few minutes more, telling about his ex and about him being a preacher.  He tried to get the girl to look at his computer and see if she could fix it, but she refused.  I kept my eye on him and after a few minutes, he excused himself and headed out into the parking lot and got into an old truck.  As the truck back out, I noticed the bumper sticker on the back advertising an outfitter for Wilson Creek (a wilderness area in the mountains of North Carolina, west of Lenior).  Having spent some time on Wilson Creek area, I laughed and said, "Wilson Creek, that explains him, that man must have gotten himself into some bad moonshine.”  

For a story of me hiking in the Wilson Creek area, click here.  I have also canoed and kayaked Wilson Creek a few times, in a former life.


  1. Good thing you were there to kind of step in if necessary for the is so odd the strange things we run into in this daily life of ours......hopefully the man doesn't get anymore of that moonshine!......Hope your weekend and Easter is blessed Sage!

  2. Boundary happens everywhere.

  3. I hate getting trapped by people like that. There is one who comes to the pool/hot tub area of our health club, and you don't dare make eye contact with him!

  4. Hmm, I don't think I've ever encountered an old McDonald’s employee. Might be that's why they have 50,000 jobs open.

  5. I'm glad you would have stepped in to help the young lady. This sounds like so many loud talkers I used to encounter on the commuter train. :)

  6. WOW! I'm truly speechless and I don't know why I find that so surprising.

    Good post Buddy! What solid Character you are and have!


  7. I have a confession to make. Instead of continuing to work on my blog post, I actually opened a new word document and began to take notes of the conversation going on behind me--from which I got this post.

    Karen, I think the 'shine he has had some bad chemicals in it--which comes from recycling radiator coils into condensing units--a sure-fired way for brain damage

    Ron, more than boundary issues (unless the boundary problem is that he was outside of the mental hospital's fence)

    Kenju, Yep, such people can trap us!

    Vince, he wasn't an employee. As for his age, I'd say he was about my age

    Lynn, i'm glad I didn't have to step in!

    John, you know, I've come across more than a few folks like him in my life

  8. Rather you than me Sage. I despise false "men of God"

    Might have to take a trip over to Dearborn this evening and see one in the flesh.

  9. An obvious loon. The problem with such situations is one never knows if they'll remain annoying but harmless or escalate into something really nasty. Good for you in maintaining your composure and keeping the lid on things.

    Happy Easter, my friend.


  10. Funny but when I run into situations like this, my first thought isn't about the problems of the person in question or the poor people he is verbally abusing. Nope, my first thought it that this would make a good blog post. It is too the point that my wife only has to give me the do-not-blog-about-that-over-my-dead-body look. Blogger is kind of like that.

  11. That's a wonderful story Sage. I've lived here long enough to believe it--not him but the story--and no I wouldn't ask what happens to people who aren't Christian but are "good," though I do get tempted--not that I've heard a story quite as mangled as that one!
    Have a wonderful Easter!

  12. My guess is there is some fairly serious mental aberration going on there. Probably diagnosable

  13. Walking Man, I find him fascinating, but want to keep my distance

    Randall, yep, not doubt, and you are right that you never know where such a person might go next

    Ed, I did just that--I stopped what I was doing and started making notes in a word file!

    Pia, I've seen his sorts all over--North, South, East and West...

    Charles, I agree!

  14. Sage, I'm sure mental illness was involved, and I can well understand your fascination.

    I was once fascinated, too, by a homeless man, wearing a ratty military uniform and a couple dozen tattoos, who ranted the whole length of a bullet-train ride from Dijon to Paris that he was Nietsche's Ubermensch, finally arrived there in 1992 to enlighten us all. Really, of course, to berate us all for not immediately recognizing his superiority. He, too, tried to come at my sister at the end, even though she was all of 15 and didn't understand a word of French. Luckily, the conductor arrived at precisely the moment when my father was becoming seriously annoyed, and the man fled to another car, since he obviously hadn't paid for a ticket.

  15. If nothing else, it sure made for an interesting post.

    Sometimes I feel like I attract these types of people. I must have a gullible face.

  16. Sage..... quick thinking on the note taking; I find I'm doing that more and more often. Your story was great, and I'm supposing your daughter was somewhat amazed by it also.

  17. How sad. I wonder what his background was that led him to his current state of being.