DEAR ABBY: In light of the events at Virginia Tech, I need some advice on a situation I encountered at work. I travel to many retail locations each week, and sometimes I am "stationed" at one of them for several weeks, or even months.
Two months ago, I was chatting with a young man I'll call "Ryan," and during the conversation he told me that when he was in high school, he had drawn up plans for a Columbine-type assault. The comment came out of the blue, and he laughed it off, saying it would make a good movie script.
Ryan is now at a local community college, and I would not want to be a student at his school. He makes me very uneasy, and I don't like having to interact with him. After the Virginia Tech tragedy, I asked him his thoughts. His reply was, "I wouldn't have killed myself." The implication was that the murder of 30-plus people was fine with him, but suicide would send him to hell.
This kid really scares me, and my gut instinct is to tell the store management about his comments. If he gets angry someday and snaps, I will feel terrible that I didn't say something, but I am a "visitor" in these stores, and I don't want to be labeled as a troublemaker by them or my employer. What should I do? -- VERY TROUBLED IN ARIZONA
DEAR TROUBLED: It's too bad you didn't "remind" Ryan that committing murder would also send him to hell.
Because the young man scares you, my recommendation is to go with your gut. However, rather than reporting the conversation to store management, you should bring it to the attention of the police in your community. They can -- and should -- check to see whether he has access to, or has purchased, any weapons.