It was a brief torrent of rain which came in off the bay that did it. The rain inundated around us here at assisted living, while we were all still at supper this evening. The water overran it’s gutters from the rooftops. It wasn’t like the place got flooded on the inside of the building or anything. We got along better than that in the momentary storm.
It was just that the whole place got soaked out of doors.
There was an especially dense cloud cover all of a sudden, which made the summer afternoon significantly darker than normal. Stanley Hockenschmidt took the stairs to the second floor, on his way back to his suite after dinner, to avoid being trapped in a disabled elevator. It’s not something the man likes to go through. A disabled elevator. No thanks. Been there. Done that.
When Hockenschmidt was in university, as a young man, he was always getting trapped in the nine story elevators in the freshman dorms. It was an uncomfortable experience which repeated itself the whole way through the time the man was at that school. The controls would stop working sometimes, and calling out from being trapped inside really didn’t help matters much.
Eventually, the lift would independently decide to cooperate, of it’s own accord, and Stanley Hockenschmidt would eventually be on his way, when he was in university, but the thing that bothers the guy the most is being closed in, in some sort of sealed chamber, where he doesn’t have the option to get out, in a circumstance beyond his own wishes. That situation in general makes the man extremely uncomfortable. He has to really concentrate on relaxation to keep from losing it altogether in that spot.
Stanley Hockenschmidt has a very real case of claustrophobia.
Some days, the man can’t even bring himself to be productive as a writer, because it means being secluded in his suite all day. The walls start closing in on him, well before suppertime, and the man has to get up and go downstairs, here in assisted living, just to keep from getting himself really upset. It affects the man that much sometimes. There’s nothing sinister which precipitated this phobia.
He just doesn’t like tight spaces.
Several of his background experiences contributed to this problem.
It’s like being in an isolation chamber. It doesn’t help you to start chanting that you’ve got to get out of there. Like they do in the movies. Somebody locks you down, your best move is to try to relax as well as you can. Lie down on the mat and try to take a nap. They don’t call it the quiet room for nothing. The only way out of that place is to calm down and make the least amount of noise possible.
Since the man’s been in assisted living a little better than a year ago now, one of the things he’s enjoyed more than most other things about the place is his liberty to retire to his personal privacy. The other thing he enjoys just as much, is his liberty to get up and go downstairs to the lobby to be with the other residents whenever he wants to. It sounds like a contradiction in terms, but the man enjoys his liberty as well as his privacy. He just doesn’t ever want to be trapped in again.
It’s been a long time since he’s had to go to a psych ward, and even longer since he’s had to be in an isolation chamber. There’s one new development here in Dixieland the man has never seen before. Now, they’ve got these zip up tents covering the patients beds, which you can only zip up from the outside. They can seclude you in your bed at night, and you might even have to foul the bed, if they’re too slow answering your bell, if you hit it.
Stanley Hockenschmidt has both polarities of experience to enjoy, or avoid, as he pleases, here in assisted living. He can even opt of going downstairs for meals, and have room service bring him some food, if he prefers his privacy that much at any given moment. But doing that to himself ordinarily precipitates another attack of Stanley’s claustrophobia, just like being in a stalled elevator does it, every time.
He’s found that the best way to avoid going into a panic in his suite, is to go to the dining room on a regular basis to get his meals to have other people around him at least three times per day. Whenever the storming gets really bad, Stan takes to the stairs, and avoids the elevator. It’s only one flight to mount or descend, and he’s prepared to take to the stairs whenever he’s in doubt.
Hockenschmidt is taking care of himself.
The old man has spent enough time at the laughing academies to know when to go through a door, and when not to. Sometimes, with his mental health issues, the man gets to the point where he has to submit to people locking him up into a psych ward again, as they’ve done so frequently throughout his lifetime. Part of having a chemical imbalance in his brain, means that there are times when his meds stop working, and he needs to get into the psych ward again so he can get a change of medications from a competent doctor.
It’s just the way things are.