Back in 2005/2006 I moved from the Kalamazoo area of Michigan to the Saginaw area. I was fresh off of my divorce – or right in the middle of it, these things blend after a while – and looking to start a new life.
I got a job serving tables at a fine dining establishment and began hanging out at the bar next door. I love that bar to this day, and I try to stop in whenever I’m in town.
When I was first going there, a gentleman named Elmar owned it. During the peak of my Saginaw time he was selling the bar to one of the people I hung out with while there. A really nice doctor originally from India.
There was a group of five of us, I think, though sometimes we had to push tables together for more. We were loud, fun, intelligent, and had a great time all around. We introduced new books to each other, I crocheted scarves to keep my guys warm, things like that.
One of those guys is who I’m writing about today. Farhad. He was so quiet and shy. I used to be those things, not so much anymore. We started chatting, sometimes flirting, and we became close for a while.
Farhad and his family were originally from Iran. When we met the second round of Middle East stuff was really rolling, and it was interesting to hear him talk about it.
His parents moved the family from Iran to the States when he was six. They went to Minnesota, lived there a while, and then moved to Michigan so his dad could teach at a college.
Farhad was in college for the second time when we met. He had received his engineering degree previously, and had returned to college so he could become a pharmacist. I’ve actually written about Farhad before in a post about attending a wedding from Hell.
We used to joke around with Farhad, and he messed with us, so all is fair. One of the nicknames we gave him was, of course, Jihad. That always made us laugh because he was one of the last people we could imagine picking up a gun and going to battle, holy or otherwise.
There was this one time, oh man. Okay, I will hang out with just about anyone. We knew a bit of a hickabilly who used his large property outside of Saginaw for shooting practice and other things. He invited Farhad and myself to come shoot one day.
I’ve shot lots of guns. It used to be one of my favorite things to do. When our friend invited us out to shoot AK-47s, how could I say no? It was one hell of a good time, and now when I write about guns like those, I actually kinda know what I’m talking about.
In order to shoot the guns we needed ammo. Our friend had a store he liked to go into for that, one where we had to have owner approval before they’d sell. It was weird, and a small town. I don’t question this stuff.
We begged and pleaded for Farhad to ask for the ammo and then raise his head up and shout, “For Allah!” and then do the LA-LA-LA-LA high pitched thing that probably isn’t accurate but will cause a shiver to crawl up most white people’s butts.
We had a fantastic time that day.
After a few years it was time for me to begin the next stage of my life. I moved myself down to Grand Rapids and began working in an office, which ultimately lead to me being here in Florida.
I stayed in touch with my Saginaw people through Facebook, and I still dashed up there regularly, but we’d all fallen out of touch. Farhad was working in Flint, the other guys were working their other jobs and taking care of the bar at the same time. It’s expected people would drift apart.
Farhad liked to ask questions, and he had definite opinions on some things. I have no idea why the topic came up often, but he was really rather upset that his parents had him circumcised as a child.
He disliked all military actions, and held the belief that the States needed to get out of the Middle East, that we were only making things worse. Oddly enough, he was right, as we can tell by the quagmire that’s been the Middle East for decades now.
The militarization of our police struck a chord with him, especially around the time of the Michael Brown shooting and the Ferguson protests. Farhad began posting on Facebook, and they weren’t happy go lucky, my life is awesome posts. His posts were angry, and questioning pretty much everything.
I took a step back, recognized I didn’t know him very well anymore, but I wanted to help. I’ll talk to and counsel just about anyone. I have a friend I call RTWDJ and he often tags me for help figuring out his mental state. I offer clarity from an outside perspective and have for a decade now.
I tried to do that with Farhad. I reached out one day after reading a particularly alarming post he had put up. Apparently he’d been drinking and Facebooking, which is often a bad idea. Everyone was up in arms. He apologized, pulled it down.
I believe it was a post ragging on our military on or close to one of the memorial type holidays. The kind of post most people won’t let stand without argument.
That was the time I mourned the passing of my friend for the first time. He was definitely not the guy I remembered.
A couple of months ago he posted something similar. My heart was breaking for Farhad. He wasn’t the shy, quiet guy I remembered anymore. He was angry and loud, and more than happy to challenge anyone who disagreed with him.
I received one message back from him and knew I couldn’t help.
I wasn’t worried Farhad had become disillusioned with the US. I didn’t believe he would become radicalized and go join ISIS, but I had a very bad feeling about where my friend was going to end up.
When we all hung out at the bar, we all had a bit of a drinking problem. Binging, really, but isn’t that what you do when your friend owns the bar and you’re getting out of there for next to nothing?
Farhad had so many issues, and he was dealing with them in all the wrong ways. He had restless leg syndrome, and used tonic water to deal with it, as quinine is helpful and apparently you can’t just buy that stuff. In order to ingest the tonic water he tended to add gin to it.
Alcohol played a very large part in everything that happened with Farhad. All of his friendships, his family relationships, all of it.
Last night I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and saw a post by another friend I haven’t spoken with in far too long. They were commenting on how sad his passing was. Stunned, I scrolled through the comments until I found somewhere I could read the story.
Farhad was pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving some time after the bars closed for the night. He was handcuffed, and probably on his way to jail.
He somehow moved his cuffed hands from behind to in front of him. He wrestled with a cop. He tried to take the cop’s gun.
A cop shot him.
Farhad is no more.
The quiet, shy, unassuming guy who looked adorable in glasses absolutely hated the police, military, and government when he was hammered. As do so many of us, I believe. And it’s while he was hammered that he made motions that ended in his death.
I want to be surprised. God, do I want to be surprised at how Farhad’s life ended.
I can’t be surprised, however, as the warning signs were there. Farhad definitely had a chemical mix up going on in his brain. He was up, he was down, he was angry, he was loving. Undiagnosed mental issues would not surprise me in the least, and dumping a bunch of alcohol on top of mental issues is never good.
I’ve not had much time to process this as I discovered the news last night. I questioned almost immediately if there’s something I could have said or done when reaching out to him that could have helped.
The answer is no.
He needed a psychologist or psychiatrist, not an author who think she understands people and can talk a good game, not friends who tell him he needs to “get over this”. At 30+ years of age, no one could force him to get help, though I wish there were a way.
I have another friend who is similar to Farhad, except he’s 100% American, and it isn’t necessarily the government he brings up, it’s religion. This guy absolutely hates religion, yet goes to church every Sunday to keep his wife’s family happy. He doesn’t drink or do drugs so my fears aren’t as strong.
I do worry for where he is going to end up as well, though.
There is no purpose to this post. Normally I’d say if you know of someone who needs help do this, that, or the other thing. But those things don’t always work. The people don’t always want help and we have to step back to protect ourselves.
I’m sorry for Farhad, for his parents and friends. I’m sorry that mental health is an issue still passed over to this day.
This is the first person I’ve had pass that I’ve hung out with on a regular basis, the first of my friends who are my age and are no more. I know as I grow older this will happen more often, but may I just say, I’d prefer if it were old age from here on out? Is that acceptable?
RIP Farhad. Here’s a link to the story I found last night. Follow up Officer Involved Shooting
Edited to add: My heart goes out to the officer(s) involved. This is one of the shittier parts of the job they signed up for, and I wish it weren’t.
Edited for correction: Farhad was pulled over in the middle of the afternoon, on suspicion of drunk driving. That makes it all the more tragic, as far as I am concerned. Also not the first time he’d had a run-in with officers. I’m going to crawl back into bed and take a nap, but first I’ll do my best to remember the good times.