I have this ongoing environmental case involving a schizophrenic man in his late 50s/early 60s. He's a collector. He wanders around town and collects whatever catches his eye, certain that there must be something with some value in his collection. He takes it all to his property and dumps it...to deal with "later." Later never comes and eventually the junk piles get so high that the neighbors call to complain and the Health Department steps in. The neighbors are exasperated with this man and, for their own reasons, never offer to help.
As often happens with those with mental illness, this case cycles with his compliance with his medication regimen. The first court case was filed in 2002 and has been back to court several times since. And this man knows enough to know that he "will get in trouble" if he doesn't stop collecting stuff. But he can't seem to help himself.
Earlier this month, I was forced to file again on this case. The man has successfully avoided service of process and I feared I would have to have him arrested in order to get his appearance in court. At today's scheduled hearing, however, Ms. P. showed up...representing herself as this man's Social Security representative payee. More importantly, I could tell that she was there as his friend. She and some other friends have apparently taken it upon themselves to help this man...to clean his property and take care of him in the way that he is clearly not able to do for himself. She has no legal responsibility as his representative payee or otherwise. She just likes him and wants to help.
In the past few weeks, this woman has orchestrated the removal of 156 bags of garbage and a construction-sized dumpster of miscellaneous junk and debris. She jokes that she ruined her manicure in the process. And through it al...despite the ruined manicure...she says, "I would never try to change him...he's a wonderful person." The neighbors could take a lesson from her. I know I did.