It doesn't happen immediately. Sometimes it takes a while, as the nice, normal, everyday people in the place get replaced by nutjobs. Eventually, though, when things get weird enough, the weird (as H.S.T. said) turn pro. And, oh my children, it has been the Masters' Tour of Wack on the unit lately.
The ontorexics and tanorexics I can handle. The woman with sixteen fluffy little dogs (I exaggerate; it's really only something like four) is no problem. The nurse who wears what is probably the entire stock of Sephora and jumps like a startled rabbit every time you speak to her doesn't bother me a bit. The golf-obsessed? I don't turn a hair. The Cultist, though, really threw me for a loop.
He doesn't wear white robes and Nike sneakers, at least not at work. I've never caught him offering any sort of sugary drink to anyone else. And, for a while, I thought he was okay, if a bit overbearing and loud. Well, and self-righteous. And strange. Until, that is, he started talking about religion.
(Rhetorical question: What *is* it about religion and politics? I mean, I get weird too, if I start talking politics. Anyway.)
We had a run of people who had just been diagnosed with HIV the other week. Two things about the epidemic are really fucking depressing: the fact that AIDS is the leading cause of death for African women, and the fact that HIV infection is beginning to increase again in the very young and the older-than-40. We were seeing a few of all of those groups. It's a shock to be transported back to the bad old days of the late 1980's when you see a 20-year-old who's just been diagnosed with full-blown AIDS and had no idea he's positive. It's depressing to have the second immigrant woman in a week come in who contracted HIV from her husband. And it's difficult to have to talk to a guy in his 60's about how, exactly, he managed to get this infection that "only" young/gay/Black/whatever people get.
So we're talking about this over lunch (because we know how to have fun) and The Cultist pipes up that HIV is a reason he's glad *his* wife was a virgin when they got married.
Pause for contemplation on the part of the rest of the crew.
Sweet Loretta asked, carefully, if he thought that lack of virginity was the issue with the two positive women on the floor. Well, of *course* it was, silly! Because everybody knows that only nasty, dirty strumpets (and, I guess, Godless pervs) end up with nasty, dirty diseases.
Longer pause as we all digested this.
The Cultist took the longer, more aghast silence as an invitation to explain why and how this was a fact, and how it was supported by Biblical texts, and how the truth of the matter (about the nasty, dirty strumpets, I mean) had been covered up for years by a secret cabal involving the Pope, the government, and the WHO.
It was like a combination of Monday morning at the health department and "The DaVinci Code". I think the Illuminati actually got mentioned once; I wasn't paying that much attention. I was too busy checking to make sure that the world was still on its axis and gravity was still working.
I'm still not sure how we all got out of there. By some miracle, beepers started going off and people started remembering meds they had to pass; within about five minutes, only The Cultist was left, eating his sandwich and muttering about the Four Horsemen. I've never been so grateful for patients who call every ten minutes, let me tell you.
That was, of course, before I walked 'round the corner and smack into The Bully....but that's a different post.