“They let the crazies out”

I work a retail job at a cookware store in the mall, and it’s always interesting to see how customers interact with the salespeople. Usually, I work in the back room, so I don’t have to deal with people, but I certainly hear the comments that my fellow sales associates make about the customers as they come to the back room.

There are certainly days when all the customers seem to be particularly demanding, and we had one of those days this past weekend. As some of the associates came back to the area where I work to take a break, they’d often make comments like, “These people must be on something,” or “They let the crazies out today.” The way most people choose to explain the customers’ actions is by using words that have something to do with ‘crazy people.’ I totally understand where they are coming from, but at the same time, it makes me think about what it really means–especially to someone like me, who is, well, ‘crazy.’ I also know what it’s like to come out of a psych hospital, and I wonder whether the associates know what their words really mean.

I know I’m being a bit picky, and sometimes people say ‘they don’t really mean anything by it’ about what they just said.  But it’s strange how we’re somehow able to choose when our words are supposed to mean something and when they do not, according to our own preferences at a given time. I’m not offended or anything, but at the same time, their words about the ‘crazies’ does make me a bit uncomfortable because I wonder how they would view me if they knew more about me.

I will say, though, that there really are interesting people that come into the store, and we store associates sometimes need to let off some steam as we take our break. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to equate those interesting people to be people who are mentally ill.


2 Comments to ““They let the crazies out””

  1. I think about this a lot. When people use crazy or insane as general terms of reference. It bothers me now. But before I was with my ex-wife, who is bipolar (bipolar I with psychotic features) I never batted an eye when someone used those terms like you describe. I think after you love someone who has a mental illness, or you have to learn to understand one yourself, you gain perspective on how seriously difficult it can be, and that absolutely any one of us could have a mental illness. I think comments like that are just ignorant. And I don’t mean that in a mean, way, just to say that they are ignorant of how mental illness is not the stereotype they imagine, and that many people they probably know are “crazy”.

  2. I think it’s just really easy to go along with others and just call random people ‘crazy.’ joking about mental illness seems like one of those things that’s still commonly accepted. I’m sure I make this mistake, too. i have to say that when it is so widely condoned, it is hard to stand up against those comment when they happen.

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