September Surrender: Day Eight
What I’m Letting Go
I’ve been driving all day so I’m a little tired and hope to make this brief. There was a lot to think about while in the car for five hours. The day started out fine. I of course waited until the last minute to pack and therefore felt a little rushed out the door. But it ended up being fine. The last time I went to this car rental place, the lady immediately told me to put a mask on, to which I rolled my eyes and said I’d put a scarf on, “as long as it covers your nose and mouth,” she told me. And wouldn’t you know it, that same “mask required” sign was still up on the glass doors.
I walked in anyway.
No one said anything to me as my reservation was being filled, so I figured it was just a thing to ignore, even as all the other employees were still masked up. Right before I signed the paperwork, the lady helping me took a box of masks out from under the desk and asked me to wear one.
“No thank you,” I said.
“You have to wear one,” she told me.
“I don’t have to wear one,” I countered. The transaction was nearly complete, I argued. What good does putting one on now?
She said if I wasn’t going to put one on, I had to sign my paperwork outside. I kept my composure and said that’s fine. But the more I thought about it, the madder I got. She acted like I have something wrong with me that needed to be ‘saved’ by a surgical mask. I saw another employee walk up whose mask was entirely a chinstrap. “It’s risky in that office, huh?” I asked him. He told me that people from all over the world go in and out of it every day. “Kind of like Manhattan itself,” I said. But I wasn’t even done. I actually pointed out that he doesn’t even have his mask on properly.
“I’ll pull it up if I go inside,” he said.
“Sure you do,” I snarked.
And I still wasn’t done. I asked the guy who was showing me the car if he knew about New York State lifting the mask mandate (that was entirely not enforced) for public transportation. He said he did, but said it was just about safety and making sure they didn’t offend anyone. “Who’s offended by my beautiful face?!” I exclaimed, to which he laughed. So I was nice to him the rest of the time I was with him, and took off toward the upland.
But guess who still was salty over it?
I actually called corporate to ask if there was some kind of company policy that kept masks mandated. The woman was very nice as I explained how I felt during the interaction, admitting what a salty asshole I was, but felt it necessary to let the company know a customer’s experience. She apologized to me, which was sincere, even though she was in Tennessee and isn’t experiencing the New York madness.
While I was in the middle of the call, I realized how uncool I must have sounded, and felt that it did little to quell whatever rage I was feeling about the treatment. But then again, I wasn’t nice about it either. What did showing my contempt prove? Maybe I’m in the right about the mask shit. Maybe I’m just an asshole. But as I kept driving and seeing the rolling northeastern mountains, I realized that letting go of this contempt will do me wonders, while saving it for what truly deserves it. Employees just doing their job don’t.
What I’ve Discovered
I haven’t gotten the chance to fully explore my location yet, as I got in kind of late and am already ready for bed. But I did harken back to a lot of different solo trips I’ve taken and what went down during those times. There was the sense that me going places would change the trajectory of my situation, but it didn’t feel like that this time. I came here simply for me and my words. Whatever saltiness has remained crystalized around my heart this whole time has not followed me to this place. I’ve discovered a peace that wasn’t there in the past. I remember being so upset during one trip to Galveston, Texas, that I cried the entire way back to the airport. It was a real, visceral sadness that took hold, all because I didn’t have what I thought I wanted. This time I just drove with barely a thought in my head. The eagerness to get to where I was going superseded anything I may have been thinking about with that extra pinch of salt.
My dad keeps telling me I’m here to meditate. I guess it’s beginning to work already.
What I Hope to Find
The waitress at the diner asked me if I had been there on Sunday. “Wasn’t me, I literally just rolled into town.” We had a laugh about it, as she told me I just looked so familiar to her. I still wrote down the interaction regardless, but I didn’t think too much of it. I would have at one time, though. It’s as though I assigned meaning and significance to literally everything that crossed my path. I didn’t really feel that this time around, but I’m here to write, so I may as well get it down. Perhaps the meaning will come later.
There doesn’t seem to be a need for me to find the meaning when I’m not entrenched in the salt mine. It’s like I want the remarkable things I see to pull me out of the self-imposed stalemate, when it may be more pertinent to examine what’s inside first. I can’t just pretend like the forces outside myself are working for me if I’m not working for myself first. There’s no need to be bitter. There’s no need to go salt mining. Life is far more savory than that.