As many of you know, my life story consists of a series of bizarre circumstances and cases of me being in the wrong place at the wrong time. There was the time my car got fire-bombed. The time I walked into a drive-by shooting. The altercation at a Fatburger in Los Angeles where the police got called. Being escorted out of book festival when someone very vocally threatened to kill me. The multiple fights I’ve had to break up. Me stopping the drunk guy trying to rob a UPS truck. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. But yesterday’s encounter with insanity was the craziest of them all.
I stopped off at the post office to mail of several copies of my book, Darius Logan: Super Justice Force (how’s that for a little shameless self-promotion?). There’s two significant things to know about this trip to the post office. First, this was my first time mailing off copies of the book, so I had no idea what was the most cost-effective rate to go with. This led to a longer-than-usual conversation with the clerk, as we compared rates. During this whole time, which is seeming to take forever, two thoughts are running through my head: “This is seeming to take forever, and I’m glad there’s no line behind me, because I hate being the clueless idiot that holds up the line with stupid questions.”
The second thing that made this trip to the post office significant is that I was at a branch I seldom go to. I had just taken my mom out for lunch, and we stopped by a branch close to the restaurant. Normally, I would go to the post office branch closest to my home, or maybe that postal annex place (although probably not because they get confused about which rates apply to what types of packages, and let’s not forget that I was on something of an information-gathering mission). So, I’m at the post office branch on NW 24th, which for those that know Portland, know that compared to other neighborhoods, seems like a not-that-crazy part of town.
I’m at the window, and the clerk is just starting to ring up my last package, when I hear a very loud commotion behind me. I turn and see a Postal Worker fighting with some Crazy Guy in the lobby almost directly behind me. The Crazy Guy is bigger than the Postal Worker, and manages to knock him to the side. He’s screaming something to the effect of, “I need to see my controller!” as he storms into the back area. For a brief second I think about trying to stop him, but I couldn’t see if he had a gun or not. And the one things running through my mind is, “Oh crap, this is it. This is that ‘ex-postal worker going crazy and killing everyone’ scenario we always hear about.”
By now Crazy Guy is somewhere in the back, and there’s a bunch of shouting and loud crashes, but no gunfire. I tell everyone that we should clear out for safety sake while wondering if should go back and get my packages, but to be honest, I don’t even look back to see if anyone is following me as I head out of the building. By now my adrenaline is starting to pump and I’m on my cell phone, calling 911, listening for potential gunfire. The 911 dispatcher answers the phone, and as I’m giving her information, she starts asking stupid questions that I can’t answer – “What is the man wearing? Do you work for the post office?” As I’m trying to deal with the dispatcher, a woman I recognize from the lobby of the post office comes running out screaming, “He needs help! Somebody help him!”
Without giving it much thought, I rush back into the post office while I’m still on the phone with 911. I’m trying to explain to her that I’ve entered the building and going to see if I can help. The dispatcher still wants to know if I’m a postal employee. To be honest, I can’t tell you what was going through my mind, other than the fact that I had not heard any gun shots, and that if Crazy Guy had a gun, he probably would have used it by now. I get into the backroom of the post office, and I find Postal Worker on top of Crazy Guy trying to subdue him. Crazy Guy is bucking like a bull in the rodeo, and postal worker looks like he can’t hold on much longer. I tell postal worker, “Look, I’m here to help, but the only thing I can really do is probably get on top of you to pin this guy down.” Postal Worker yells at me to do it, Crazy Guy is creaming at the top of his lungs about the controllers trying to kill him, and believe it or not, I’m still on the phone with 911. By now I’m yelling at the dispatcher to just shut up and get the cops here, and she’s telling me that she needs more information.
So, here I am, partially laying on top of Postal Worker, using one hand to help restrain Crazy Guy who is screaming like a maniac, and the other to hold my phone, while the dispatcher is asking, “Does he have any weapons?”
“I hope not, because I’m laying on top of him. Can you please send some cops?”
I look around, and see some guy standing right behind us, I hand him my cell phone and ask him to talk to the dispatcher. I can hear him answering the same stupid questions she was asking me, while Crazy Guy continues to freak out. Finally, he starts to calm down. He tells us that the government has sent operatives to kill him and he must find them. I say, “I understand. But we’re not here to kill you. We’re gonna protect you.” He says that the controllers are everywhere, and the Postal Worker tells him that the controllers aren’t here, and that we won’t let them get to him.
By now there’s a few more people in back who’ve come to help. I look over at some and ask them to go outside and look for the cops. For the first time, I’m starting to freak out. I want to make sure that when the cops arrive, they know not to shoot me.
Crazy guy is pretty calm by now, and he’s trying to explain that he’s on some new medication and that he’s having a bad reaction.
CRAZY GUY: I’m sick, but I’m okay now. You can let me go.
ME: I don’t think so. But hey, what’s your name?
CRAZY GUY: I don’t know my name.
ME: Yeah, well I think we’re going to hold on to you until the cops show up.
The Postal Worker and I continue to talk to Crazy Guy, trying to keep him calm, while he keeps telling us that he doesn’t know who he is. Finally, the cops show up. I realize that my mom has been waiting in the car, and must be completely freaked out. I call her and say, “There’s a situation here, but I’m fine, don’t worry.” I give my statement to the cops, and they keep asking me over and over again, “You don’t work here? Why did you come back and help?” I didn’t have a real answer then, and I don’t have one now. I went back to help because someone needed to.
By the time the police are done taking my statement a long line has formed in the post office lobby. I have to go stand at the back of the line to finish mailing my packages. Thankfully my mom offers to take my place. Some people in the lobby are calling me a hero. But the real hero is my mom, because she’s willing to stand in a long line for me.