More cookies, more milk the economy collapses before our eyes, incidents of people coming unglued are becoming more commonplace. Two men, not completely in their right minds on CTA buses last week, illustrate how some people are becoming unraveled.

The first guy argued with the driver over his fare. When I realized that twenty cents was the difference between moving and idling, I forked over a quarter. From his seat, in a conversation with himself, he railed against the injustice of it all, how people just don’t get it, blah, blah. Thanks for the quarter never entered his mind.

A different guy, different bus, boarded and cursed the driver from his seat half-way to the back. Her offense? Picking him up differently than he would have liked. He missed the point that he was actually on the bus. I finally piped up that I would stick up for her, which started a bout of yelling between the driver and the passenger. Until then, everyone had been silent listening to the invective. Given a “do over”, I would challenge my fellow riders to stop the harangue when it started.

Clearly, neither guy was playing with a full deck. These kind of incidents will be more commonplace as the stress of the collapsed economy settles in. A safe, predictable environment provides the secure foundation to engage with the world to learn, to work, and to make your productive contribution. From a wobbly foundation, instead of contributing to the world, people leech from it.

The solution is to figure out how to provide secure environments to more people so that there are more contributors and fewer frightened, unbalanced people hanging on by a fraying thread. Environments that include creature comforts – a good night’s rest, food that is genuine and home cooked, cookies and milk, hot showers and clean laundry – could certainly go a long way toward anchoring a person to face an uncertain and frustrating world.

Photo credit: cookies and milk

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