Believing my own eyes (not)
It’s getting to the point that I don’t believe my own eyes or trust what my ears hear. Sometimes it feels like I’m starring in the old movie, “Gas Light,” where the world is conspiring to make me think I’m crazy.
For the record, I know I’m crazy. It runs in the family. But it’s a good kind of crazy that is fun and interesting where we view the world in an off-kilter way. But I’m telling you: People are out to make me think I’m really crazy. The kind of crazy that isn’t good.
Three times this week, people have vehemently disputed things I saw or heard. In many conversations with the phone company, each customer representative vowed that what I heard the previous rep say was wrong. Even though I would repeat back to the rep what I had heard and she would say, “That’s correct.” The next rep would stop short of calling me a “liar” but deny that was ever said to me.
“Then pull the tapes of the conversations,” I replied, referring to those little messages that say, “This conversation may be recorded for the purposes of improving customer service.” For the record, that kind of audacity will get you “accidentally” disconnected.
Then there was that business meeting in Texas. I couldn’t make the meeting due to a prior commitment but my creative partner flew from Los Angeles to attend. Several texts and phone calls from him to me went something like, “Why am I here? I thought we were going to brainstorm creatively but this is a financial meeting.”
Puzzled, we discussed phone conferences that we had both been part of and what had been said. Back and forth, we batted dialogue and came to the conclusion that we were right. What we had been told was not what was happening in the meeting.
To settle it, I called the man who set up the meeting. “How did we so badly misunderstand?” I asked. This was a nice way of giving way to explanation.
“I don’t know,” he replied. “I just don’t know.”
As friends and family will tell you, my brain sometimes doubles well as a recorder. So, verbatim, I begin to recite exact dialogue from our conference call. He began to waiver. “Oh, it just began to change. It snowballed and got out of control before I realized it.”
“Why didn’t someone tell us that?”
“Well, well, well, we should have.”
My confidence in my ability to receive information clearly was suffering when I pulled out of my street as three fire trucks blew by, their sirens screaming urgently. Half a mile from my house, I saw them pull into the drive of a big house, covered in billowing dark smoke. Immediately, I began to pray for the house, the family and any animals that might be trapped. A few minutes later, I was at the hardware store when three more fire engines came screaming by.
Four old men standing around commented lazily, “Wonder what that’s for?”
I spoke up. Note to self: Keep your mouth shut. “It’s that big colonial house. It’s on fire.”
Every man looked at me and laughed sneeringly. “That house ain’t on fire.”
“Yes, it is. I saw it.” Note to self: Keep your mouth shut.
Their ridicule was clear. One man spoke up. “It’s something at the back of the house but it ain’t the house.”
“Oh.” I mumbled. “Well, I hope I’m wrong.”
I felt like a fool. I really thought I hadn’t seen what I had seen. And even when I drove back by and saw flames licking out of the top floor windows, I didn’t believe my eyes. Even when a fireman refilling his water tank at a nearby hydrant, told me it was true, I didn’t believe my ears.
This, I now know, is how really crazy feels. Before, I was just pretending.
[Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of “What Southern Women Know About Flirting” and “The Town That Came A-Courtin’.” Her newest book is “What Southern Women Know about Faith.” She lives near Gainesville, Ga. Sign up for her weekly newsletter at www.rondarich.com.]