Guilt: was I reponsible for that guys hospitalization?

I was working at Kohl’s department store about 6 or 7 years ago. It wasn’t the best job I ever had but it wasn’t terrible. I was in my late 40’s and most of my co-workers were twenty-somethings. Even at my worst jobs I’ve had, there were still interesting things going on, and I learned some stuff about people in general and even at my worst, terrible jobs, they were still learning experiences.

Anyways, at Kohl’s there were the usual cliques but the main one had a core membership pf about 6 guys. Just some young people. One guy was there who was not that good looking. In fact he was (I hate to say it) strikingly funny looking. Other that that he seemed perfectly normal. He fit right in, joking with the other guys when they were talking or bugging each other. Personally, I was on the outside of all this though in my three years there, I did manage to impress some people.

Anyways, the guy I’m talking about seemed normal except one or twice when someone would accidentally bump him or maybe accidentally step on his toe or injure him slightly in other ways and he would whine a little. It struck me a just a little weird or out of character but it wasn’t a big deal.

So one day after working with all these guys for about a year, I was walking on the sales floor heading for the break room or something and I saw that guy walking towards me about 50 feet away. I thought came out and I thought, “That guys crazy”. I had no reason to think that. The thought wasn’t directed at him and I didn’t think that intentionally. I don’t know why the thought came into my head but, somehow it did. It was just a passing, innocent thought that was no big deal. In fact it was a tiny, minuscule deal and I didn’t really think the guy was crazy at all. I had worked shoulder to shoulder with him for a year and I didn’t think he was really crazy.

But the guy caught my look and he freaked out and got all flustered and upset and lost his cool. We passed each other doing our chores and I thought it was no big deal and I completely forgot the non-incident in about twenty seconds. But the guy didn’t show up for work the next day or the day after that, and in fact he never came back. People come and go in department stores so I didn’t think much more about the guy. But I was working a couple of weeks later and my manager and my supervisor were talking a few feet away and I was listening and they were talking about that guy and they said something like "It’s a shame about that guy, he went into the psyche ward and he hasn’t come out yet. I was flabbergasted and shocked. I had no clue.

But I thought back about the day that thought came into my head, and I thought to myself, was it my fault that he went into the hospital? Did I blow his cover? Did he have a mental illness all along?Was his whining maybe a sign of something bigger than I thought? I started thinking about him and I started seeing other clues from all the time I worked with him. But life went on and I mostly forgot about him except occasionally I still think
of the incident. It makes me feel bad if it was my fault about what happened to him. I know how he felt because I’ve been in his shoes in similar situations. Ah well, if it was my fault, I hope it never happens again.

It’s definitely not your fault. He was probably on the verge of a breakdown or something of the sort already. Might’ve even checked himself in voluntarily because he realized something was wrong with him. There’s no way your singular thought caused him to go to the hospital, though. He couldn’t read your mind, after all.

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You were just perceptive and recognized something in this person that was already happening. I don’t know what your expression was, but I doubt you communicated anything strongly enough to affect him.


d00d was ready to blow. If it wasn’t you, would have been an ad at a bus stop. Don’t let stuff like this rent space in your head. I’ve met very few people who are more supportive than you are.