This guy. He's the only caller who I double-check about with the dispatcher: how is he today? The "not good" days, I dread them, the endless silences and the ashamed mono-syllabic replies to my desperate fantasy gambits and the abrupt, unexplained hang-ups eight minutes into the 30-minute call that he had booked. Those are the bad days, when he talks about how he wants to stop eating, he doesn't want to live anymore, thank you so much for talking to me.
Those are definitely his bad days, and I want fucking advance warning for that shit, please and thank you. The "good days"? I actually need warning on that, too, because on good days I need to be ready for a steady, excitable stream of conversation. I need to have a list of topics at hand, something to steer his thoughts to, if it seems like he is running short on steam or loses track. Losing track happens a lot, yes.
Today was a good day, said the dispatcher: "He's really good today. It's a good day to get him talking about travel or current events or whatever. He's really up." We all understand that he's mentally unstable; I sometime think bi-polar, even though I am not trained to know exactly what that means. His mood swings can be outrageous, that's my point.
Sure enough, he was cheerful sounding and chatty and relentless when I got on the phone, right from the drop. He asked me a little more about my travels this summer. I think since I've returned I've only ever gotten him on the down side of his cycle, so maybe he forgot to ask earlier. He loves to hear about my travel, I think mostly because he just doesn't get out much on his own. He asked about the couchsurfing I do as I travel around, what it's like to be part of that community of wayfarers. He wanted to know what spots in the US I liked; did I mention that he thinks I'm Canadian, and I've left that assumption uncorrected for so long that to correct it now would just be embarrassing for us both?
I tell him that I was in the UK this last summer, but sorry hon, we only have four minutes left to talk. If you want to find out more about my time in the UK, I say, you'll have to call me back. That was a bit of a gambit, but I don't care. More often than not lately, he's been hanging up in the middle of his calls and not calling back, so if he's on his up swing I will damn well angle for that repeat call.
On his up swings, he never wants to talk about sex either. On his down swings I can tell he wants to talk about sex, but can't. I feel like I'm talking to two different people with the same name. What the hell.