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One of my regular odd jobs is working at a small farm.  The man who owns it, D, only grows vegetables and some fruits, and it's not a corporate-scale operation, it's just him, a couple of acres in which he plants whatever he feels like growing, and his wife, who used to help until she succumbed to the effects of Alzheimer's.  He hired me to help out a couple of days a week, three or so years ago, and I've been working there every Monday and Tuesday since.  It's usually relatively easy work, maybe cut some firewood and split it with a log splitter, or dig and fertilize some ground, or fix something that's broken, or weed a bed, or just ride around on the tractor, leisurely doing some bush hogging on the open areas.  There's one other person who works there, on Tuesdays, and we'll call her K.  K and I get along very well, we both enjoy working there and we both really like D and his wife (despite her mind ranging all over her time stream, she's still a sweet, wonderful woman).


D is an interesting man.  He joined the Marines because he thought he was going to be drafted, served his tour of duty and started organic farming when he was discharged.  He grew up with a stammer, so he's always been uncomfortable around strangers (once he knows someone, he's relaxed enough to speak without stammering).  With the stress of caring for his wife, his temper has become shorter, and he can be impatient, but those are moments, not the definition of his character.  He's kind, generous, thoughtful, appreciative... he's the kind of person I refer to when I talk about good people in the world.  As K and I have both said, he's rough around the edges, but there's a diamond underneath.


After a couple of years of trying to keep up with the farm and care for his wife, D (who is in his 70's, and still works like a machine) finally decided to look for more help.  He entered an online program which placed people who were interested in organic farming with farmers who used organic methods and products and were interested in teaching, and could offer room and board.  An internship arrangement.


It's been hit and miss, this program.  Most of the participants we've had haven't shown any real interest in farming, they were just taking advantage of the free room and board and trading a few hours of light work.  But that's been fine, really, it provided D with the extra hands he needed, and the interns were never problematic.  A couple of them have been fascinating people with rich lives and delightful personalities, and a real interest in what we were doing, how we were doing it and why, people who we all missed when they moved on.  This latest one, though...


She arrived about two months ago, and when I met her, five days after she started living in D's house, she was overflowing with complaints.  She referred to D as "toxic", insisted that he wasn't giving her "safe space", he wasn't respecting her or her boundaries, he wasn't "honoring" her the way she "honored" herself.  When I pressed her for an explanation of what made her so uncomfortable, she couldn't give an answer, despite going on for four fucking hours, non-stop, about how bad the situation was.  Nothing concrete was mentioned, she just kept going on about how uncomfortable D made her.  I know he wasn't making passes at her or touching her inappropriately.  He cried every day when he put his wife in a special care facility for a week just to see if it would be better for her... that kind of man doesn't think with his gonads or act on their behalf.  He's absolutely devoted to his wife.  And, again, he's damn old, too old to be chasing tail.


By the end of that day, I had a niggling suspicion that we were dealing with...


Can I get a drumroll, and some horns?


A Drama Queen.

The next day, the intern repeated everything she said to me, word for word, when she was gnawing K's ear off.  My suspicion deepened, but I don't stick my nose in other peoples' business, so I kept my mouth shut.


The next week, she's locked herself in her bedroom and refuses to come out.  She's observing the holidays.  She didn't mention this to D, she wrote a note and left it in the kitchen.  And, for some reason, D knocking on her door and asking about it was a traumatic experience, an example of D's "toxicity" and violation of her "safe space", as she describes it the following week.  D didn't push the issue or try to cajole her out, or even bother to ask why she couldn't be sociable during a holiday season, he just let it go and we all got on with the work ahead.


Week 3 is when I get all of this, from her.  She describes a terrible feeling of imposition, of disrespect for her, of being treated badly, and when I ask for more information, it boils down to her just not wanting to talk to D and blowing it all out of proportion when he knocked.  At this point, I'm not listening any more, I'm just nodding my head and trying to move the conversation in a different direction, one that doesn't feed into what I'm becoming more and more convinced is a contrived conflict, a completely created controversy for the sake of garnering sympathy.


What were her goals, why was she interested in learning about organic farming, what does she do in her free time, where did she come from, you know, casual conversation.  And it gets weirder.  She wants to live on a house boat... and grow enough food to live on.  On the boat.  She's a vegetarian, she says she breaks out in a rash if she eats animal protein... and she asks for a Cobb salad when we stop at a nearby convenience store.  With Bleu cheese dressing.  She needs a filter for the water... that's filtered... before it enters the house... because it's not city water, so she doesn't know for certain that it's "clean".  She's asking me if I can put her in touch with some people who can give her some paid work... but when I give her a list of names of people who would happily pay her to do some work, such as the local general store where I work on Fridays, which always needs someone to work the register (hard to find reliable people in a rural area like this), or my friend L, who has a dozen houses he rents out and posts on AirBnB and could use some help keeping clean (something she suggested herself), she declines because she doesn't have transportation (not even a bicycle) and doesn't want to walk (L's house is half a mile away from D's farm, a ten minute walk, and he'd happily pick her up and take her with him wherever he went if she didn't want to talk).


The more she talks, the more I realize she's utterly clueless about life and lacks any sort of focus.  She's been sheltered her whole life.  From what I could gather, what money she has comes from her brother, because this program doesn't pay anything and room and board were all D was obligated to give, so she has to have come from a family with some wealth, or her brother makes enough to support her in addition to himself and his family.  She's also moved a lot, and it's always a sudden, last minute decision, she's had to just "get out of there", for reasons (which were never fully disclosed, always nebulous), and it's always because the roommates/housemates/other people living there were "toxic".


The flags are all over the place now.  They're red and fluttering wildly, like blood spurting from a severed artery, and there are so many of them.


Week 4 gets off to a rousing start.  As soon as I arrive at the farm, the intern is asking me to teach her how to drive.  Or, more accurately, convince me to talk D into letting her use his car to learn how to drive.  Even more accurately, how to drive again, because apparently, she does know how to drive, but hasn't driven in so long that she doesn't remember how things like pedals and wheels work.


You're hearing those air raid sirens, too, right?  Yeah, those are some loud motherfuckers.  Damn near blew my ears when I heard them.


Since I'm taking D's farm truck down the road to do some cutting and splitting for the firewood pile, I agree to let her drive that, with D's permission.  He trusts me, and she's mollified, and we finish the work without a lot of drama for a change.  Before I leave, she hounds me for my phone number so she can ask driving questions.  Imbecile that I am, I give it to her... and become embroiled in more weirdness.  She's now texting me about this ongoing bruhaha with D over whether or not she can use his car for driving lessons, upset because he won't take her out for driving lessons, pestering me at 9 p.m. for driving lessons, asking questions about car rentals (what the fuck do i know about renting a car?! i'm not Hertz!).  Almost every day this week, a flood of texts pour in, so much that I almost block her number.


Week 5, after many, many long texts that I don't want to read or respond to, I go to D and ask him if I can use his car for a driving lesson.  He agrees immediately.  He's so quick to agree that, in retrospect, I find myself wondering if the intern ever broached the subject with D at all.  All of her complaining about how stingy he was with his car (HIS FUCKING CAR!  NOT HERS!), and I didn't even have to explain anything, I just asked and he consented.  Shady.  But the driving lesson goes well and she's satisfied.


Three days later, I'm at the general store (this is a real, old-timey general store, not a convenience store.  there's a back room with plumbing supplies, electrical supplies, farming and gardening tools, you name it, and food and supplies in the front (no livestock feed, though, everyone goes to big chain stores for that now)), replacing some tiles, and D comes in.  He's buying mouse traps and peanut butter.  The intern has a mouse problem.  The rest of the house doesn't have a mouse problem.  I mention that mice go where it's warm and where they can find food, and that I had a mouse problem when I lived as a hermit in a bedroom in the city, eating and keeping trash in there.  And that's exactly how the intern is living, she closes and locks the door to her bedroom and stays in there at all times when she's not required to do some work to fulfill her program duties, going shopping with D and his wife, or making a potty trip.  She insisted that D buy a padlock for her to lock her bedroom the first week she was there, and she


Later, that night, I get a text that's so long I'm surprised Verizon's network didn't spontaneously collapse.  I mean, I know I tend toward loquaciousness, but this was on another level.  D mentioned to the intern, in passing, what I'd said, and that set her on the war path.  As I read through it, everything that I'd suspected, everything that had left me feeling off about the situation, coalesced.  She was trying to manipulate me, convince me to side with her and take a stand against D.


I wasn't suspicious any more, I was certain.  It all snapped into place.  All of the moving around she'd done, it wasn't because she was interested in learning about different things, or because she'd finished her stays and went on to the next residence or program, or even because she couldn't decide what she was doing with her life, it was because she'd pulled this same shit everywhere she'd gone and had to bail with utmost haste when it came back around.  She'd made a living out of being a drama queen, going from place to place, stirring up trouble and playing people against one another, and running away when the aftermath settled on her shoulders.  I'd even hazard to say that the reason her brother was supporting her was to keep her as far away from the family as possible, just to keep her from creating more problems with them.


"None of my business.  Let's keep it that way, please." was my response.  Which, of course, prompted another long, but not quite as long, text filled with explanation and pity-me sentiment.  You know the kind, you've seen it all over the Internet, someone antagonizes someone else enough times for a moderator to step in and the aggressor vomits up a page of whining and polishes that plastic halo on a stick.  Yeah, that.  I didn't reply, and she never texted me again.


BUT WAIT, BEAR'S MORE! (that one still makes me laugh so hard that my lung hurts)


Yeah, I thought it was over, too.  She never tried to drag me into that act of her stage production again, but no play ends with one act.


The next Tuesday, we're harvesting for the weekly order (D sells online through a local co-op), and I'm polite.  I'm nice (yes, i can be nice.  fuck you).  She asks questions and ranges from talking about living in a mobile tiny house to living on a house boat, then wanting a farm where she can park her boat (i'm lost, too, so don't fret), and I'm conversant and open, though confused by how she bounces from one plan to another.  I answer her questions and try to help her focus.  For example, I point out that getting permission to park something doesn't do her any good if she doesn't have something to park there.  I tell her that a shed on a trailer, which is how she wants to do a mobile tiny house, would cost three times as much as simply buying a used camper and putting a little work into it.  The beginning of the problem is not a failure to get along, it's her mouth never closing long enough for her ears to function.  Five times, she asks me what she's supposed to be harvesting.  Five times, I tell her, "Two orders of broccoli, one pound each, so two pounds of broccoli."


The sixth time she asks, I tell her and repeat it several times, then ask her to repeat it back to me so I know she remembers.


Fifteen minutes later, when I'm weighing and packaging what I harvested, she comes to me and tells me that I spoke to her "like a slave-owner speaks to a slave".


Oh, yeah, I forgot, she's African-American.  I typed everything up to this point and it didn't occur to me to mention that, so that should indicate how far removed from a racist I am.  Skin color just isn't something I think about.  I grew up poor, in multi-cultural neighborhoods and trailer parks, people are just people to me.  So this bombshell left me speechless for a full minute.  I addressed her as a co-worker who was frustrated with her for being so goddamn bad at a simple task, and she threw down the racism card.  But still, in an effort to minimize conflict, I didn't call her out on inventing that bullshit on the spot to manipulate me, I just told her that wasn't how I said it and she was misinterpreting it.


The next week was blissfully free of whining and conniving.  She listened when I answered questions.  She wrote down what needed to be harvested and referred to that instead of asking multiple times.  She spoke about her plans with more focus and more directed energy.  It was like working with a different person.  The intern was doing well, and I thought all of this was finally at an end.


Oh, how wrong I was.


Last night, K texted me.  The situation at D's house had reached the point that D had called her, crying on the phone, because he didn't know what to do with this intern.  He was miserable.  He'd offered to pay for the intern's travel expenses to her next destination, she'd countered by trying to talk his step-son into giving her a camper (not selling, giving) and insisted that D let her live in that, on his farm, for free.  And if she couldn't get the camper, she was going to, and this is one of the most bat-shit banana balls things she said, buy a small greenhouse kit off of Amazon and live in that.  On his farm.  For free.  Indefinitely.  Not a tent, a greenhouse kit.  Come hell or high water, she'd made up her mind that his home and his farm were hers and she wasn't leaving, even if she had to cook and suffocate herself to make it happen.


K asked me what I thought.  I suggested that she wouldn't like to hear my thoughts, but she pushed, and I laid it all out on her.  Turned out, K had twigged to what was going on just as I had, and agreed with everything I said.  She decided that we should all "sit down and work out a reasonable solution" the next day, which was today, after the weekly harvest was finished.


That's exactly what happened.  The four of us went into D's house and sat down, and for the next ten minutes, K talked, the intern deflected, D talked, the intern deflected...


And then she laid the blame for everything on D's shoulders, saying that it was because he was "uncomfortable around Africans".


If she hadn't done that to me just one week before, both K and I might have considered it possible that D was a closet racist who only showed his true colors when we weren't around.  That can happen, and I'm open-minded enough to realize that.  But saying it twice gave her away.  That's what she does when she's backed herself into a corner and can't get out, she accuses people of being racists to manipulate them.  When the bullshit and lies and contrived reasons for drama that she's piled up finally topple over and land on her, she tries to dig her way out with that.


I blew the fuck up.  Completely lost my shit, right then and there.  At full volume, I called her out, told her off and warned her she was leaving one way or another.  And I meant it.  I'd told K the night before that I'd drag her out of D's house by her ears if she wasn't gone when D specified, and I didn't give a flying fuck about the consequences.  I goddamn well would've done it, too...


But the intern tried one last tactic.  She called 911, told them she was barricaded in her bedroom and afraid because D had a shotgun.  And it backfired spectacularly.  See, in a rural place like this, everyone knows everyone.  And all of the officers who responded to the call... all of them knew D.  They've known him for 30 years, they know what kind of person he is.  They saw right through all of the bullshit instantly, cuffed her, collected her belongings for her, stuck her in the back of a trooper's car and assured D that his troubles were over.  She'll be spending a few nights in a cell, then be remanded to a care facility and assigned a social worker to investigate her mental stability and determine whether she's fit for trial (abuse of and endangering elderly folk doesn't go over in a small county filled with elderly folk).  She'll never be back to the farm.  Curtain down, exit stage left, Drama Empress.


still can't fathom what the intern expected to accomplish, though.  She was never going to be able to live in that house by having D carted off by the cops.  Only an idiot or a child could possibly expect it to work.  And even if, by some miracle, it had worked, she was still fucked because there was no way I would've allowed her to stay there while D wasn't around.


D is fine, as is his wife.  I returned to the farm as soon as K told me about the final act, which occurred just after I left, and made sure they weren't harmed or in a state over the incident.  He was already more relaxed than he'd been in weeks, smiling more readily and not stammering.  There were hugs and expressions of affection exchanged and life is already better for him.  He'll recover from this, and I'll sleep well tonight knowing that one of the best friends and mentors I've ever known is safe and comfortable in his own home again.


We won't be participating in that intern program again this year, either.

Get busy living... or get busy dying.  That's goddamn right.

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2 hours ago, Luminara said:

still can't fathom what the intern expected to accomplish, though.


There doesn't appear to be a whole lot of fathoming going on in this sordid tale. The intern sounded like they could've been afflicted with a number of psychological disorders. 

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Damn.  Sounds like a younger version of my sister.  Ultimatumed herself out of a high paying job, was left at the altar twice (once with a restraining order), and can't understand why her relatives and friends won't lie, cheat, and steal on her behalf.  I'd love to tell stories, but I won't.


I don't know if this is related, but back when I lived in a college town, there was a fairly abrupt "sea change" in my neighbors in the early-mid 2000s.  For a long time, I could go to any neighbor who was making a bit too much noise, introduce myself, and ask if they could keep it down - and they'd do so.  No argument, no skunk looks, no issues, and I'd rarely hear loud noise from them again.  There were exceptions to be sure, but they were just that - exceptions.


Then, suddenly, I had two sets of neighbors almost back-to-back who stunned me with a question I hadn't heard before, i.e., "...so when CAN we be noisy?"  After recouping, I'd try to strike a deal like, "How about this - if you want to have a party, give me a day's notice and I won't complain."  In both cases, the deal fell through with the very next long weekend, and in both cases, the people involved decided to harrass me in small and petty ways.  A third neighbor just looked at me for a few seconds, said "I don't know you" while I was mid-introdtion, closed the door, and cranked his music.  At that moment, I decided that, much as I hated the idea, calling the police was the only way to proceed.  That neighbor was evicted after 3 visits.


So there may be a personality thing going on, but to me it feels like there was (and is) a generational thing as well.  I'd never claim that my generation was well-mannered (points at sister), nor would I claim that the above examples are typical representative of any younger generation, but the quality of the responses left me thinking, "...just where do you think this is going to go?"


Now I live in a post-industrial town full of divorcees who just don't want to be bothered.  The guy next door occasionally plays loud music, but 1) he's very old, in poor health, and deserves whatever joy he can get, and 2) sometimes he sings like an old drunk, and for some reason, I appreciate that.

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I got to week two and was like "kick her ass out" >.<

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49 minutes ago, WanderingAries said:

I got to week two and was like "kick her ass out" >.<

I'd have been building a trebuchet.

Why hurt my foot.

Unfortunately, this sort of insane entitlement is becoming more and more common.

Some of it MAY, indeed, be actual insanity.

But a good chunk of it is a lazy person who has found a way to exert pressure through social means to get what they want.

I have LESS THAN ZERO TOLERANCE for this sort of thing.

And as I get older, that amount is rapidly decreasing.  (And NO, I'm NOT joking.).

The best way to deal with this sort of thing is to nip it in the bud as early as possible.

The grief and aggro such people generate is NEVER even REMOTELY worth the tiny bit of labor they provide.

Sorry you had to deal with such a person.

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Most families have black sheep that act in bizarre ways that don't make sense. And the conventional wisdom is to have zero tolerance for their bullshit, so these people start getting passed around like a hot potato until they end up in prison or homeless on the streets somewhere. And not a damn thing is learned from the situation, so this sort of thing continues to happen and it's just as traumatic the next time it happens. On and on.


In my extended family there's a lot of flavors and degrees of dysfunction going on. One relative in particularly is, at least on the surface, extremely fucking lazy. He's on the autism spectrum, but that can't explain how damn lazy he is can it? One day a therapist explained that this person doesn't have a neurotypical brain's ability to process social contexts and nuance. So in the course of a normal interaction, the linear thinking function of the brain is working twice as hard to try to decipher cues that people normally just naturally pick up on. Add to this the anxiety that comes from not being able to effectively read other people's reactions and know whether you're offending them or somehow not communicating properly. This person is mentally laboring through a mundane interaction that most people take for granted. With this in mind, characterizing somebody like this as simply lazy is akin to calling someone bound to a wheelchair lazy for not hobbling around on their atrophied legs. Calling someone with a neurological issue or personality disorder a drama queen is similar.


This whole incident, as related in this thread, comes across as an episode of The Waltons. A drama queen rolls into town and sets her sights on a gruff but good natured farmer. John-boy and the others in their folksy wisdom suss out that this person is no good and try to intervene. The drama queen tries to frame the farmer, but the local lawman--he knows what's up and drags the ne'er do well off in cuffs. I mean, yeah you can look at it that way if it makes you happy or entertains you or something. It doesn't offer any constructive insights about why these situations occur or what to do about them. It doesn't entertain the possibility that this intern could've been handled differently to get different results. And it ends with the farmer in question no longer taking part in the intern program (despite having some good to decent experiences in the past) and presumably still needing help. Also, people getting this account are going to presumably less likely to take part in a program like this. 


It's not this farmer's fault that this happened or that things played out this way. But as a society we need to do better.

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1 hour ago, battlewraith said:

I mean, yeah you can look at it that way if it makes you happy or entertains you or something. It doesn't offer any constructive insights about why these situations occur or what to do about them. It doesn't entertain the possibility that this intern could've been handled differently to get different results.


Whether or not she's drawing with all of her crayons isn't something any of us, D, K or myself, are or were qualified to diagnose or address.  None of us have degrees in psychiatry, we're not trained counselors, we aren't employed at a mental health facility.  Moreover, we were gracious, generous and attentive, even at the end.  That was why K wanted that meeting to happen, so she could find an amicable way to resolve the problems and relax the tension.  We went out of our ways to meet her needs and try to make her stay on the farm enjoyable.  Nor would any of us have concluded that she was nuts without getting to know her and having that specified to us.  We're all people who try to see the best in others, and encourage exactly that, and we all thought the problems and conflict would settle once she felt at home around us.  There just wasn't anything different we could've done.


All of what came to pass falls on the intern's shoulders, not ours.


And as far as her mental state or health, whether it's a treatable problem or she really is a drama queen who got in over her head... I don't care.  I don't, and I'm not sorry for that.  I would have cared weeks ago, before she tormented an elderly man to the point of weeping, tried to turn his friends against him and called the police in a desperate attempt to squat in his house, but any sympathy I might've had is gone.  Nor do I believe she should be absolved of responsibility for her actions, if she is mentally ill, as her pattern of behavior was focused on shifting the blame, finding a way to make everything someone else's fault.  She'll have to face the fact that she's responsible for her actions and the outcomes of those actions, regardless.


And all of this is irrelevant, as far as I'm concerned.  She's gone.  She's never returning.  I didn't post about what happened in hopes of garnering sympathy or playing a drama queen myself, I would've posted weeks ago if that were the case, not an after-action report.  Nor was I trying to cover my ass by telling everyone my "side", as no-one here would have ever known about any of this if I hadn't posted.  Some really weird shit happened and I couldn't process it without sharing it, that was all.  I honestly don't care if she's bonkers, or an entitled, lazy mooch, or a pink-spotted zebra in disguise, or whatever the reality of her situation turns out to be, because I'll never see or hear from her again.  That's as much positivity as I can muster for her, complete disregard.


2 hours ago, battlewraith said:

But as a society we need to do better.


On that point, I have nothing but absolute agreement.  Whether this is a mental or personality disorder, or just bad behavior that she turned into a lifestyle, it would've been caught and dealt with a lot sooner with a better approach to mental health care.

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Get busy living... or get busy dying.  That's goddamn right.

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