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Jeff Whitten: Nutting up
editor's notes

Editor’s note: For the sake of this column, let’s define “nutting up” as public behavior (or private behavior made public) by a person or persons which leaves the rest of us shaking our heads and wondering what’s wrong with people these days.

My mom’s wonderful neighbor Diane down in McIntosh County might’ve put it best not too long ago. “People,” she said, “are nutting up all over the place.”

Yes m’am.

In fact, you could say people are nutting up with a startling frequency, both in terms of quantity and quality.

That said, given our 24-7 information overload maybe it’s a wonder more people don’t go off their nut or at least temporarily lose control – like a man in an incident report who apparently was on I-95 driving when he stopped, got out and lay down in a puddle of wader in a median and cried. I know traffic on I-95 can make me want to do the same, but what the heck spurred another fellow to attack railroad crossing arms in the middle of Highway 144? Bees? QAnon? School board policies?

Anyhow. Since I regularly read incident reports as a mostly depressing part of my job (and one that gives me a great respect of and appreciation for police, EMS and firefighters) I know hardly a week goes by without someone dialing 911 because someone somewhere is nutting up. Whether it’s caused by drugs or alcohol or mental illness or some combination of the three is immaterial. It happens. And in too many cases it’s tragic and awful.

That said, we tend to judge things in our era as Charles Dickens led off his wonderful classic about the French revolution, “A Tale of Two Cities,” i.e., they’re the best and worst of times, only we use more hype than Dickens ever did.

Plus, me being an optimist means I tend to try and look on the bright side. And that side says people have been doing nutting up and doing weird things for years.

I know this because:

 A) I’ve done it a few times myself.

B) I’ve read a lot of police reports.

Here are just a few of B) that I can recall off the top of my head. And given I can’t remember half what I did yesterday, that’s saying something: 

1. Back in the 1990s an exterminator got so mad at an Effingham County homeowner for firing him he decided he’d get even by setting fire to his front deck. The guy might’ve gotten away with it but at some point mid-arson he had a change of heart and tried to put the fire out with the guy’s hosepipe. Which is where the homeowner found him, staring forlornly into a smoking hole in said deck. Imagine trying to explain that one to your boss.

2. Circa 2000, three large women (so described in a report) over in Hinesville went into a convenience store to use the bathroom and found it was out of order. They decided to use the sink, which apparently required them to plop their behinds on it. I can’t remember whether the report said they took turns or all gave it a try at once, but at some point the poor sink crashed to the floor, wrecking the plumbing. The women tried to flee, but the manager heard the sink crash and the women splashing their way out of the store, and was able to get the tag number of their would-be getaway car.

Editor’s note 2: convenience stores tend to draw people who nut up like flies. Be careful what you say and don’t make eye contact.

3. Circa 2000, a man walked into a store near a back gate of Fort Stewart and asked to use the bathroom. When the man was told there were no public facilities, he grunted, made a face at the clerk, shook a pants leg and then headed off in the direction of post, leaving the clerk something on the floor she said looked like a Baby Ruth. I might’ve been stationed with that guy in Germany in the early 1990s, because for a couple months our battalion was plagued by someone known as the “Mad Pooper,” and his modus operandi was to poop in the barracks showers when you least expected it. He was never caught.

4. An all-time favorite happened around 1995, when an Effingham County woman of grandmotherly age called 911 to report she was getting obscene phone calls. The woman told deputies she and a church friend disagreed over a soup recipe and they hung up mad. The complainant said later on she got an obscene phone call full of heavy breathing, foul language, etc. She hung up the first time, but it happened again, so the woman dialed *69 and it showed the calls were coming from her church friend’s number.

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