The Strange Tale of Collin McGirthy



If you have an open mind, and live long enough, you may have the chance to look back on your personal history and recognize patterns in the landscape of your journey.  These commonalities within our background show us our strengths, and weaknesses.  They come to us quite naturally from a God who put us where we are in life because of what we are made of individually and what we have yet to gain.  These patterns may not be found by each in the same season of life, as we all have different gifts, and are on different paths.  Hopefully, when we do recognize the areas of mental and moral infirmity, we can direct extra effort towards making them stronger.

An experience I had this last summer brought one of my weaknesses into focus, and aside from having already told some of friends about it, and it being a screwy experience to relive, I feel for some reason I need put it down in writing.

For almost six years, we lived in Aurora, Colorado.  We really weren’t all that far from home compared to other servicemen I knew, but somehow, it turned out to be as great an adventure as I could have wanted in it’s own way.  I was stationed there in the Army for most of that time, and after I got out, my wife and I decided to stick around a while so I could go to school there.

In the end though, my anxiety and depression became so out of control that I had to drop out of school.  It was a big blow to me to have to stop, but also a dire one to our income.  I had been receiving financial assistance from the government to help pay rent while going to school because I was enrolled in the Vocational Rehab program.  That dried up pretty quickly once I was out of school.  We tried adjusting our budget the best we could, but eventually, we had fallen far behind on all of our bills, including the mortgage.  I guess we were totally in denial, thinking somehow, we’d fix our situation, until one day we got a letter of foreclosure in the mail.

Two families close to me have lost their homes to such a thing in recent years, and both stories shed light on how sad it really is when people are abruptly forced to downsize their lives, and have their credit otherwise seriously tarnished, if only for a handful of years.  Not wanting to know their pain first hand, we decided to sell our house real quick and get into less of a financial commitment elsewhere.  The house was sold, we had  over a month to get out, and the boys were out of state staying with my in-laws for the summer to help ease the situation.

One night, my wife and I took our laptop to McDonald’s to use their wifi for house shopping and to get ill eating their almost-warm food.  We were probably there four times longer that night than if we had gone for the purpose of getting diarrhea alone.  Somehow, we ended up talking to this bald-headed, bearded man who was sitting in the table next to ours.  Come to find out, he was also an Army veteran, or so we were told.  To number one, protect the names of the guilty, and number two, not give any credit to a turd muffin who lied to us 24/7 and used us,  I have decided to call him Collin McGirthy, paying tribute to his proud Irish heritage, and large size.

Collin was a good ol’ big-talkin’ country boy from Middle of Nowhere, USA, where he proudly told us we should move because of the advantageous decrease in real estate prices.  We didn’t speak with him long, as he was in the midst of flirting on and off with a would-be girlfriend on his smartphone.  But we did exchange phone numbers, because it had come up that I was looking for a job, and supposedly, he had hookups.  I would come to regret it less than a day later.

The next morning, I got a text message from him saying that his roommates had kicked him out and he was probably going to have to walk all the way back home to Oklahoma.  He just needed a place to stay while he got back on his feet at his horse ranch job that was starting back up in a week or so.  As well taken care of as he had me thinking he was the night before, I should have just ignored his text and gone about my day.  I’ve never been one to even as much pull over on the side of the road to help a broken down motorist, for fear of being mugged; and I would certainly never pick up a hitchhiker.  Everyone knows that stuff is dangerous, duh!  This was different though, this guy was nice, and he had served multiple tours to the middle-east as an Army ranger.  He had to be good stuff!  Stupid me.

I called my wife and told her about his situation.  I wanted to help him in some way, I just wanted to talk it over with her to see what was possible for us.  Then I got this bright idea to invite him to stay with us for our last month in our house.  What could it hurt?  I don’t have to worry about our boys, they’re gone.  We didn’t have much worth stealing.  Our generic brand TV was almost 5 years old and already having problems.  He didn’t seem like a dangerous guy.  What the heck, we’d invite him to come stay with us until we were moved out.

I called him and in exchange for $90 rent, offered him a room to stay in for our final month in our home.  He said he could pay us in a week.  The money wasn’t going to change our lives or anything, I just wanted to see some small evidence that he had an ounce of respect for me and my home.  In the end, he didn’t hold up his end of the bargain.  He did a few chores, which I guess in his mind was supposed to be the $90, but we never saw a cent.  He very pitifully accepted, trying to work up whatever sympathy for himself he could.  Maybe it worked.  I started to sense he was a turd, but didn’t think him to be one I should fear.  This would all be great.  He’d get back to work, and he even promised he’d help us pack our stuff into boxes for the move.  I think he was under the impression that the best way to find work was by watching Netflix all day.  Maybe he was brushing up on his acting skills, I don’t know.

I picked him up one McDonald’s further from where we had met the night before.  I think homeless people each possess a magic ring that opens portals which take them to any Mickey D’s location they can think of.  Anyway, he stunk a lot worse at this McDonald’s than the last one, maybe because they hadn’t gotten into the full swing of cooking all their nasty food yet.  So we stopped at King Soopers on the way home to buy him some basic toiletries.

We gave him the boy’s bedroom complete with clean sheets and towels etc. and things were somewhat normal the first few days.  I told him he could eat anything he wanted.  I just never imagined he’d eat four pounds of cheddar in less than ten days!  At first I was a little irritated, because my wife and I had planned on using a little of it for a dinner, but I did after all tell him he could eat whatever he wanted.  Lesson learned I guess.

My wife and I started noticing he was a big BS’er.  He was full of all kinds of ‘One-Upper’ stories.  Some were about how well he had it back in Oklahoma (which often made us wonder what the heck he was doing eating Big Macs in the hood).  Others were about his brave mother before she died, or how he had punched out his former Marine sperm donor of a father the last of only a few times he’d seen him in his whole life.  He had mentally painted me a picture of quite an impressive farmhouse complete with everything you could ever want including acreage, livestock, a small armory, a fancy room decorated in ninja swords, dragons, and waterfalls entirely dedicated to his pursuit of meditation, and a small herd of purebred dogs.  Somehow all this was maintained on his fabulous salary he earned helping on someone else’s ranch.  Whatever Collin.  We’re so happy for you, and glad you somehow chose to bless us of all people with your presence, given you had such better possibilities.

I didn’t allow him to use our computer because we so often used it for personal matters including purchases.  So every day, he would hobble down to McDonald’s a few blocks away to use their wifi on his phone.  It wouldn’t be long though before Collin found his “soul mate”….

— To be continued–