Out of the Ordinary – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Out of the Ordinary

I wrote this on Tuesday at 2pm, shortly after the incident occurred. I wasn’t sure if it was worth posting, but I think the tone I used at the time demonstrates just how bizarre and out of the blue this encounter was.

“I was just mistaken for a 6000 year old biblical prophet.

Someone just left the door to the church where I work wide open. An older man wandered in and leaned over a table facing away from me. He was maybe six feet away. He began muttering prayers to himself. I realized that the group that had been here earlier was long gone and the door wasn’t open for them to get back in. And this guy was not supposed to be there. Not knowing what to do, I started to close the door to my office, but he must have heard me and turned around. He introduced himself and explained that he is a 49-year-old veteran missing eight toes who lives in the QBH (Quality Behavioral Housing, a rehab center for drug abuse and mental illness) across the street and is looking for employment. He started going on about the biblical meaning of my name, and became confused and started thinking that I was the original biblical Jacob. I explained that I’m not able to give him a job, that he should call the church office or come by on Sunday. I took his name and number and listened to him for a few more minutes before we wished each other well and he left to continue his quest for gainful employment. This happened about ten minutes ago.”

I have no idea if he was high or insane, but since he seemed like a sincerely friendly and gentle old guy, I’m leaning toward the latter, though he did exhibit signs of stimulant intoxication. I also suspect that his phone isn’t functional, or the number he gave me was made up. The number was one number, followed by six of another number (like abb-bbbb), and no area code.

In most other areas, it wouldn’t have worth posting about, but, as I mentioned in a previous post, this was in the “Second most dangerous neighborhood in the country” according to some report. The QBH house, I realized later, may have a lot to do with this. Looking at a satellite image of the area, I noticed that their backyard is adjacent to the intersection of Mack and Helen, which was the place listed in the report. (news story: http://www.clickondetroit.com/news/michigan-lands-6-spots-on-neighborhoodscouts-most-dangerous-neighborhoods-in-america-list/-/1719418/19949700/-/51waa1z/-/index.html or simply google “most dangerous neighborhoods”) If a lot of violent crime goes on in the QBH, that might have had a strong effect on the statistics that led to the area’s high ranking.

In the end, I’m not too concerned about what happened. The guy wasn’t dangerous. But I’m still going to make darn sure that there will be no more opportunities for anyone to demonstrate their good will in that manner again.

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