About Bank: “Are you Smarter Than a Psychopath?”

12 Oct

Once upon a time…

I was bored at work and convinced my security guard he was a psychopath.

The security guard where I work, let’s call him Shamus O’Leary**, is quite the character and quite the caricature of a human being. He is young, Indian guy (I know, typical Indian name) who was raised in Brooklyn,NY and those two facts about him are only relevant because he speaks like Flavor Flav in all respects except he mixes up his v’s and w’s a by-product of having parents who spoke with an extreme accent. It’s hilarious. My favorite thing to hear him say? Veggie Omelet. Which he pronounces Wedgie Omelet. Which he says surprisingly often. He is one of those people who genuinely says things like “Naw, bro, that shit is dope!” or “Why you be hatin’?! All you jawns (a slang term he just taught me!) be hatin’ today!”

When we were first getting to know each other I thought he was lying about being from Brooklyn because there were a lot of colloquialisms, common slang words, everyday, run-of-the-mill English words that kindergarteners know, that he does not have in his pint-sized vocabulary and that he does not seem to get after many hours of explanation. But this I have attributed to the fact that he is a first generation American so it was hard to pick up on those things from parents who spoke English as a second language, so I give him a break (except for the fact that he didn’t and still doesn’t know what or who is Gilligan’s Island…inexcusable).

But despite the fact that I obviously make fun of him (to his face and am entirely unapologetic as a rule) he is my buddy. My brosef. My manfriend. My day would be excruciatingly long and boring without him and his odd sense of humor and Pauly-D haircut (picture it). What I’m saying is while this might seem like a written burn, it is nothing more than a desire to preserve in writing his glorious eccentricities and quirks which I adore.

It was Shamus’s lack of understanding when it came to the English language that led me to jokingly question his mental health. I guess it was you’re typical “let’s see if you’re secretly a psychopath based on some bull-shit word games” scenario that people usually deal with at work.

One day, while listening to my obnoxious ex-supervisor explain a story that I did my best not to listen to, she was describing how hard she laughed with the simple phrase, “my sides ached.” Shamus cocked his head like a a curious little puppy and asked, “What? What’s that?” So I said, ” her sides ached, you know…” And he responded, “she had a stomach ache?” And then I had an idea.

My mom is a psychiatrist and I had some memory of her telling me that a way she deemed whether a person was mentally unstable and, more specifically, a psychopath was by giving them a little verbal quiz. This quiz involved saying the beginning of common idioms and seeing if the patient could a. finish it and b. say what it meant, were able to think outside of the box to figure it out.

*When I talked to my mom later she told me that I was totally false/insane/idiotic and that she never said such a thing, which makes my test for Shamus all the more cruel, oh well…

I shared this quiz idea with Shamus and, horrified, he agreed that he better learn sooner rather than later if he was a psycho or not. Wow, I’m really blown away by my own meanness in this particular situation, oy.

So the quiz began…

Tootsie Woo:People in glass houses…

Shamus: What? I don’t get it…

TW: Don’t put all your eggs in…

S: A nest?

TW: The early bird…


Psychopath test aside, I was actually horrified that Shamus did not know or understand any of these very common, American phrases. He didn’t see why any early bird would get the worm more than any other type of  bird and couldn’t recall ever seeing a glass house. And while he was panicking, convinced that he was actually a psychopath because he couldn’t complete any of my sentences I was so blown away by his responses I couldn’t help but feed the fire (another idiom he wouldn’t have known)! I told him he was definitely a psychopath and that he had to come to terms with that.

But as I was driving home I was worried about what I had told him. Shamus was obviously very impressionable, as his faith in my b.s. test proved, and I was so mad at myself for letting him go home truly believing that he was a psycho. The next day at work I told him the truth, that I had made up the test and that it meant absolutely nothing, that I was just trying to mess with him. He smiled his doofy smile and said he knew I was joking the whole time (yeah, right).

And though I still don’t believe I fully convinced him that he is not a psychopath, my test wasn’t all in vein. He regularly quizzes himself on idioms so I can never screw with him in that way again.

…Here is a follow-up conversation we had a few days later.

S: I know an idiom?

TW: Oh yeah?

S: “Show me the money!”

TW: That’s a movie quote…

S: It is? From what movie?

TW: Jerry Maguire.

S: What’s it about?

TW: It’s a movie about a man named Jerry Maguire…

S: Is it about horses? It sounds like it’s about a guy riding horses.

TW: No. You’re thinking about Tobey Maguire. In Seabiscuit.
…Obviously he’s still learning the difference between idioms and movie quotes.


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