Or: Remember the Rental Car Lady!
Since I had no family or friends in the Puget Sound area, there was no one to give me a ride home from the airport. Instead, I had to get a ride on one of those airport shuttle vans that will drop you off at your home address.
I wish they’d had this YouTube video back then:
So, does that top arrow mean go forward, or go up a level?
[Courtesy Shuttle Express and YouTube]
If memory serves, at SeaTac you have to take an elevator or stairs to get from the main level to the shuttle van level. Anyway, I went the wrong way and got on the wrong level. I wandered around briefly before figuring that out. Another mistake. Slumping shoulders.
I walked back over to the elevator area. There are four elevators, and you wait for whichever one arrives first. I pressed the up button on the wall between two of them. Another man stood near me. One of the elevator doors opened. It was empty. I took one step forward, then hesitated. It was going in the wrong direction, so I took a step back. The man got on.
Just then woman walked into the area. She was wearing the uniform of a rental car company — I forget which one, maybe Avis. Ahe was headed for the the elevator door as it began closing, but it took me a couple seconds to realize what was going on; I was tired and worn out — and not just physically from the travel, but psychologically even more so. The man already on board didn’t see her.
The elevator doors closed, and she missed it. We looked at each other. Socially, my defense mechanisms down, I was now sort of fatalistic about my interactions with others and I wasn’t going to be hiding or playing it cool like I typically would’ve. I interacted with her. Typically I’d pretend to not even have seen her, ignoring the situation and hoping she wouldn’t get mad at me. Well, none of that happened this time. I wasn’t going to pretend that I hadn’t seen her nor understood the situation. No excuses this time, just being laid bare. I said oops, explained how out of sorts I was, and apologized for not catching the elevator door for her.
I’d goofed and been seen to goof — usually a dreadful experience. But not this time. I didn’t have the energy to conceal how I was, I suppose. This was the final release of the dam. And I felt something softer come over me, a mood that was more accepting of my shitty week, not trying to fight it or run away from it.
She must’ve been able to tell I was tired or something. She was cool with it and even sympathetic. I could feel it. Then I let her know I was looking for the shuttle van area. She was helpful and told me. And I thanked her
All of this might seem trivial to you. It wasn’t to me. I let my uptight, worry-wart defenses down, and it was all right. The thing is, however, that it had taken four days of unrelenting stress for me to reach this point!
- I went to Topeka for “train-the-trainer” training on my own in order to avoid socializing with my coworkers.
- It backfired and I wound up forced into social interaction with strangers, having to face my underdeveloped social skills.
- I tried too hard to learn the new database system and couldn’t; I was supposed to return to my plant and teach others how to use it.
- I (a virgin, never had a gf) had to be in close proximity to attractive women and couldn’t avoid it as usual, reminding me how alone I was.
- Travelling, I was forced into new tasks for which I had to impotently depend on others.
- I’d lost my careful crafted avoidant little world and it freaked me out.
For several months after my return home, I kept wanting to recreate that mood of letting-go, of letting things be as they were, of letting myself be as I was and not hiding or avoiding. I even came up with a little motto to remind me of it: Remember the Rental Car Lady!
Tune in next time….: One night, few weeks after returning from my trip, I found myself on my hands and knees bawling like a child and couldn’t stop.