When people learn that I volunteer with a crisis hotline, they always want to know what kind of calls we get there. We're trained to handle basically anything. The following is a script for how I might handle a more high-risk call:
Phone: Ring ring!
Me: Hi, this is the Distress Centre.
Male caller: Hi. I'm in distress and I don't know what to do.
Me: Ok, well, can you tell me a bit about what's going on?
Caller: I used to be a dictator, but now millions of people hate me and are rioting in the street.
Me: Oh dear, I'm sorry to hear that.
Caller: I think they're going to kill me.
Me: Uh, oh. What makes you think that?
Caller: Well, they're screaming that they don't want me and they're lobbing molotov cocktails at my bodyguards.
Me: I see. That's not good.
Me: Is this happening right now? Are they throwing cocktails right now?
Caller: Yes, but they don't know where I am. My window shades are all drawn.
Me: Good. And have you changed the locks on your doors recently?
Caller: Yes. But I don't think they'll hold if the rioters find out I'm in here.
Me: Well, I think you're doing a very good job of staying calm. How is all this making you feel?
Caller: Millions of people hate me. How do you think I feel?
Me: Overwhelmed, maybe?
Caller: That's a good word. Yes, a little overwhelmed.
Me: You know, sometimes when people feel overwhelmed, they start having thoughts of suicide. Is that the case with you, today, sir?
Caller: Uh, no. But I'm scared the rioting masses will kill me.
Me: Have you notified the police?
Caller: Yes, but they're having trouble standing up against the military. The military is onside with the rioters.
Me: Oh. That makes things a bit more difficult. Do you know what happened that made everyone want to kill you?
Caller: I stole about 68 billion dollars from them and generally abused their human rights.
Me: Yeah, sometimes that kind of thing can upset people. Is there any chance you'll be abusing people's human rights today, sir?
Caller: Whose side are you on?
Me: I just want to make sure everyone's safe.
Caller: I think I want to leave this place.
Me: That sounds like a good plan. Will you be able to leave?
Caller: Yes. I know how to fly airplanes. The thing is, I don't know where to go. I can't access my $68 billion, currently. I have no money to set me up anywhere.
Me: Huh. That presents a problem, doesn't it. Do you have any spare change tucked in the couch cushions or something?
Me: What about a hatchet? I read a book once where a kid survived on his own in the wild with pretty much nothing but a hatchet.
Caller: I think I have a hatchet somewhere.
Me: Good! Ok, so, here's an idea. How about you grab your hatchet, fly away in your plane, land in an uninhabited desert or a forest somewhere, and live on nothing but your wits alone for a month or two until all this blows over. How do you feel about that plan?
Caller: Could you find me the co-ordinates of the nearest uninhabited forest with a landing strip?
Me: Sure, I can do that for you. Just give me a moment. Whereabouts are you?
Caller: Wait... this is confidential, right?
I wonder how this guy is going to end up. And how his country is going to end up, for that matter. It's weird, really. He goes through so much trouble to accumulate so much wealth and in the end will it help him at all?
It's kind of ironic - probably the only thing that can help him now is far too expensive to ever buy, and yet completely free...
Leave your hurting on the road behind you
Let the wind go with you ‘til morning comes
And your sorrow, it can’t save you
It won’t answer for what you’ve done
-NeedToBreathe (Let Us Love)