Crisis Management is a calling. For me, working here is not simply a job – it is the reason I was placed on this earth. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not some God-preaching-crazy. In fact I don’t even really believe in Him. With all due respect, He does not help me deal with the people that come through here. No, I do that all by myself, because it’s what I’m good at. Scratch that, I’m not just good, I was made for this. I suppose I should explain a little, right? My name’s Zara, and I work in a centre for people who are having a hard time. It’s a huge brick building in the centre of town. It’s been here since before WWII. Back then it was used as a ‘safe zone’ – people would come here when their homes had been destroyed to sleep, the WI would prepare care packages for soldiers, well you get the idea. Nowadays, it’s a place for people who are in trouble. It doesn’t matter what kind of trouble, money or personal or criminal. People can come here, to the CM Centre and get advice. We have computers and phonelines and a soup kitchen. It’s a safe place. I’ve worked here since the day I got kicked out of my flat with no money and no where to go. I came to the CMC looking for help, and I ended up with a room and a job. And I’ve never looked back, never doubted or judged. Well that was until Friday past.
Last Friday, I was sitting in the ‘common room’ – it’s a place where folks can get out of the rain, get some peace and quiet – anyway, I was sitting talking to a girl who comes in regularly. She’s had a rough time of it, and sometimes she just needs a little encouragement. So while we were talking a well dressed chap comes scooting through the main entrance, shaking his umbrella and shouting something incoherent. I thought it best it to go and deal with him. As I got closer to him, I realised he was quite the looker, not that I care or anything. The chap, turns out his name is Freidrich, gave me a smile and apologised for entering in such a strange manner. I offered him tea, which is customary here – tea solves everything the way we see it – and he refused! No self respecting Englishman would refuse tea. I found this odd, but that wasn’t the end of it. Oh no. He pulled out a thermos from a bag he was carrying, which I hadn’t noticed due to the massive golf umbrella he was brandishing, and offered me a cup of spiced chai! I asked him to come sit with me, and grabbed some plastic cups – we prefer not to use china, a lot of self harmers come our way – I sat down next to him on the comfy couch and proferred the cups. He went into his bag and produced a couple of Wedgewood mugs. I know! But it get’s weirder, I promise you. I asked him if there was something he needed help with, was he in trouble or needing to talk. He looked me square in the eye and said there was nothing I could help him with. In fact, he was there to help me. That was when I knew he was crazy. Turns out I was very wrong.
I’m the one that’s crazy. Everything was the wrong way round. Now I’m sitting in a padded cell, in a straitjacket, telling you my story. I never knew. I never understood why they gave me a place to stay and let me wander around. It’s because they felt sorry for me. The girl with the crooked limbs, and the not quite there mind. They felt like it was their duty to let me pretend that I was making a difference. Yesterday the doctor told me that all those people I thought I had helped weren’t real. I made it all up. I made it all up because I was so lonely. I wanted to think that I was helping, instead of being the one who needed it.
I’m sorry. Can I go to sleep now?