I was walking back towards the locker room after finishing up a workout. Near the door there was a man sitting on the floor, next to the water fountain. He asked me if I knew the origin of the song “We Shall Overcome.” I was familiar with the song, having heard it being sung in video clips from the Civil Rights era, but I did not know the origin, and I told him as much. He did not know the origin either, but this launched a conversation between the two of us that was mostly him saying things and then me giving a brief comment or question in response. It was clear to me from early on that this man was not the most rational person around, and I would even go so far as to say he was delusional. He referred to himself as the King of America and laid out his plans for a better nation, which included a trained marksman to be present during all police encounters in order to make potential suspects think twice about trying anything. In his mind, he was the only person who saw society and the world as it really was and it was his task in life to awaken others from their intellectual slumber. He was indeed one of those people that I think we’ve all met at some point in our lives – the type who think they’ve got the entire world figured out, but are somehow completely blind to some of the basic facts of reality. At the same time, he was not completely wrong in everything he said. Even the irrational possess some level knowledgeability and there were chunks of truth amongst the sea of nonsense. After fifteen or so minutes I came to the realization that the conversation wasn’t going to conclude until I took the initiative and ended it, so I found a way to amicably wrap it up and I wished the man well as I went into the locker room. In the locker room a guy nearby me asked what was going on with the man by the water fountain. I explained that the man I was talking to was delusional, but having lived in Boulder as long as I have, people like that no longer weirded me out.

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