I remember when Charles Dolling first showed up in town, he had a nefarious presence about him that nobody could ignore. He had a weird sort of shuffle that resembled something out of a horror movie. Everyone assumed he was a sex offender, and almost overnight the town devolved into a paranoid frenzy. Rumors started flying, and no one knew what to believe, but I think we all thought there was some truth to it.
It wasn’t long before people started calling it the “Sex Offender Shuffle.” I mean, it was strange to say the least and felt out of place in a suburban neighborhood like ours. People were scared that the cops or the Department of Corrections weren’t doing enough to keep track of him, and you could hear conversations about it everywhere you went.
This was especially hard on the kids, as many had heard the stories and were scared that he would come and do something to them. One of my nephews used to look up in the sky and wonder if he was being watched. It was a trying time for the whole community.
At first glance, it all seemed exactly like what you might expect of a sex offender. He was an outsider, sex dolls had a weird way of walking, and generally kept to himself. Even the police had pegged him as some type of danger. Still, as time passed, we realized that Charles Dolling may not have been exactly as we thought.
He was never seen doing anything even remotely suspicious, and it did seem a bit more likely that he may have had some kind of mental health condition. Maybe he was just too shy and ill-at-ease with himself, which translated into the strange gait. Or perhaps it was just his way of trying to fit in with the other teenagers. He never did anything to harm anyone, and eventually faded into the background.
It’s been four years since the whole incident came and went, and vibrators while it was rather chaotic at the time, there are still some questions surrounding the whole thing. We still don’t know whether or not Charles Dolling was actually a sex offender, or if he was just suffering from some kind of disorder. It’s possible that we should have been more compassionate and understanding.
We may never know the truth about Charles Dolling, but it did give us all pause for thought about how we can be more extra vigilant and compassionate around those that we don’t understand. After all, it’s so easy to judge on surface appearance alone. We must be careful to not rush to conclusions in the future, and try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.
The whole experience also highlighted the need to be more aware of mental health issues and to seek the necessary help when it is needed. Mental illness is still something that isn’t properly managed in our society, and it’s important that we understand how hard it can be to recognize. We should be working together to eradicate the stigma and help those in need.
Most importantly, the incident taught us to stick together, as a community, for times of hardship and difficulty. We went from being scared to supporting each other. It showed that sometimes the best way to deal with things is by uniting forces and working together. That’s something that we should keep in mind as we get through this current situation as well.