Wednesday, March 14, 2007

That eavesdropping from the other night

It's 1:12 AM. I wake up, confused by the sound of a booming male voice outside my window.

BMV: Heeeeeelp! Heeeeeeelp! Call the poleeeece! Call the poleeeece!

Me (whispering to Sidekick): Hey. Should we call the police?
Sidekick (asleep): Huh?
Me: Should we call the police?
Sidekick (still asleep): Why?
Me: Dude is yelling that we should call the police.

At this point I've realized whose voice it is. "Dude" is a man in his late 80s. He lives in our neighborhood. He has dementia and can often be heard during the day yelling at and about his wife, who is also in her 80s. Often his yelling is related to what an idiot she is (which she is not), how he's got to get to work (which he does not) and how she's keeping him from this (She does not let him drive because he does not have a license anymore, and he is not well. So, I guess technically, she is doing this part.). He's always been quite mean to her, but the dementia has made it much worse. It's a mess.

It's late, and I'm not sure exactly what's up, so I listen some more.

Dude: You know I have to get to work! Give me the keys! Give me the keys!
Wife: (says something to him I can't hear)
Dude: Give me the keys! Somebody call the police! I won't stand for this! Somebody call the poleeeece!

Me: Should I call the police?
Sidekick: What?

I call the police. I explain the situation, tell them Dude's name and what I know so far. The police in our neighborhood are so super kick-ass, we're the luckiest people in the world. So nice. So helpful. So right on it.

Within 7 minutes, I hear cops outside talking to Dude.

Cop 1: What's going on there, Dude? (They call him by name.)
Dude: I've got to get to work, and my wife won't give me the keys.
Cop 1: Are you gonna drive to work?
Wife: He can't drive.
Cop 2: Does he have a license?
Wife: No.
Cop 1: You don't have a license, Dude.
Dude: I have to get to work.
Cop 1: But you don't have a license, Dude.
(Repeat last two lines about 13 times.)

Cop 2 proceeds to talk to Dude's wife very kindly and thoughtfully, advising her to call Dude's doctor in the morning and tell them the meds aren't working. Cop 1 keeps up the abbreviated "who's on first" bit with Dude.

I, meanwhile, am out of bed at the window, trying to get a sense of what's going on without being seen. Sidekick is sound asleep. At this point I don't know if I should try to intervene and tell the police that sometimes he's really verbally abusive to her. I don't know if this will just make the situation worse or if it's what needs to happen. It's the middle of the night, the cops seem to be handling it, and Sidekick is snoring and unable to help me decide what to do.

I had a hard time figuring this one out. I finally got back in bed and tossed and turned, and I made a commitment that the next time I hear him yelling at her, I'll call Adult Protective Services.

The next morning, I saw Dude sitting outside his home next to an empty chair. As I walked past, he turned to the empty chair and said to it, "Excuse me, won't you? I need to check on my wife."

I haven't heard him yell at her since. But I'm dreading the day I will have to make that call.

I tell you what. Be nice to people. You never know what gear your brain is gonna get stuck in.

(I promise the next eavesdropping story will have some laughs. This one? Not so much.)


Laura said...

You're a good neighbor, Dr. B. Poor Mrs. Dude.

kim said...

Oh, that is sad. It reminds me of when we would visit my grandfather, and it was time to go home. We'd say, "Okay, Pop, we have to go now." And he'd say, "Okay, give me my trousers." "No, Pop, WE have to go." It made for a very long evening.

Kristy said...

I was glad to get to the part where you called the police. His poor wife. I can't imagine dealing with that day in and day out. Here's hoping (foolishly, probably) that the "next time" never comes.

Nano said...

That's just so sad. We can only hope we don't experience that state of mind.