I suppose the biggest problem is they feel superior to you. The man guarding the floor can be at a fourth grade reading level, yet in his mind–his pea sized brain–he ranks higher than any and all mental patients.
In fact, it’s not a coincidence that the ones who flock to these jobs have inferiority issues–that and of course required degrees of sadism. And the shrinks! All doctors pretend that giving a name to something means they understand an ailment. This is particularly true of psychiatrists. Armed with a diagnosis, will think they know you better than you know yourself. Everything you do is a manifestation of illness. It’s really quite frustrating.
What impressed me was that the floor was wood, covered with several thick layers of wax. Mr. Clippity-clop, I called him. In a pair of black Crocks, would go up and down the hallway–clip clop. If you stopped him to engage in conversation, the first thing he would say is “My lawyer is coming, you bet. I’m suing this place.” Then he would return to clopping up and down the hallway.
There was also a short swarthy man, who didn’t know any English. Fingernails painted black, he, too, would march up and down the hall, sometimes tossing an apple up into the air and catching it. Then there was Roger, striking an occasional martial arts pose while mumbling the Lord’s prayer. The big guy was fond of me, and an actual crazy person–someone who would likely be locked up his entire life. Far from stupid, but he knew they had his number.
The windows of my room looked out onto a parking lot–five floors up. The one wall was all window, and enough to give anyone constant vertigo. I slept with my back to the room, curled into a ball. The plastic pillow they issued was stuck to my face, wet with tears.