As my interpersonal interaction with human beings increases during a period of time, my ability to interact successfully with human beings decreases disproportionately.
I bailed out of a coffee shoppe this morning because three van loads of, apparently, the same family arrived and brought a pile of children with them. Hot liquids and small children, whatever could go wrong? And there was the Loud Guy who thought everyone in the area code loves the sound of his voice.
So, a safe place, a gas station, is a good bet, but there is a woman power washing the handicap spots, a dozen of them to be sure, and for some inexplicable reason, as I sit in my truck, at the other end of the parking lot, listening to my jam, she comes over in her bright yellow raincoat and asks me if I am waiting for a handicap spot.
She: Well, you were just sitting there and I thought you might be waiting for me to get done.
Me: No, no, but thanks, anyway.
She: I’ll be done in a few minutes, if you can wait that long.
Me: No, I’m listening to this song on the radio.
She: It won’t take long and I’ll be done.
Me: Okay, thanks.
She: We’re just trying to clean some of the mess off the parking lot and it won’t take long.
Me: Okay, thanks.
She: Bubble gum is the hardest. You really gotta just stand there and blast it.
Me: Okay, thanks.
Me: Okay, I need you to back up so I can get out of the truck.
She: Have you ever power washed a parking lot? It’s harder than it looks.
At that point I get out of the truck, forcing her to step back, and then close the door and step forward, as if I am going to go into the store. She retreats and I double back to the pump. All I really need is to put some fuel in the truck and by on my merry.
Cue human intrusion in three, two, one, mark.
Among men, one of the surest things is the handshake. If you offer to shake hands with someone and they refuse, it’s considered paramount to the gravest insults. The last time I refused to shake hands with someone was with a guy who came up behind me and rubbed my belly while I was sitting down. I got up, got into his face, and he tried to make a joke out of it and then tried to shake hands with me. This was at work and he nearly got fired for nearly starting a fight. Since that time, I’m a little less apt to shake hands. I hesitate. The ritual has been sullied.
This guy comes out from behind the pump, like it’s a movie or a bad dream, with his hand out and this vote-for-me-used-car-salesman smile and I point the nozzle at him. He stops in the middle of his spiel which began thusly: “I was once just like you..”
Me: Misanthropic and annoyed?
He: I once had a family and a job, and I fell on hard times.
Me: And into a bottle from the way you smell. Ten cents worth of regular and you won’t smell like PBR for another couple of hours.
He: wanders off muttering about Jesus.
If Jesus loves you why doesn’t he turn your PBR into water? It isn’t far from it anyway.
Now, I’m home. Four dogs, a lap top, some downed trees that need chopping, some classical music and I live so far out from anywhere…
A van pulls up and a man exits the van and walks right up to the front door. Marco Ladakh is on him at the first knock. Tyger Linn misjudges the dinner table top, skids, clears a week worth of clutter from the top, knocks over a kerosene lantern, and tumbles backwards, feet up, off the table.
Red Two Six, Red Two Six, this is Fire Base Alpha, Striped One is down, Striped One is down, over.
I’m trying to get the lantern up as it is leaking like a drunk man peeing PBR out of gas station bathroom with the door open. Three dogs are barking as if the Manson Family were about to break through the door, the man, without reason, keeps knocking, and Tyger Linn, not about to be kept down by something as simple as the laws of physics, decides not to gain the table top but will lay down suppressing barks from across the room. She doesn’t quite trust what just happened and thinks the table might have tripped her on purpose.
No, I do not own the land where you went fishing when you were a kid. No, I cannot give you permission to go back there. No, I do not have the owner’s number. No, I won’t take you back there to look around. No, I have no idea at all when he will be back. No, I am not going to deliver a message from you to him. No, I do not fish. No, I am not looking for a place to go to church. No, I have no idea what women want. No, I do not know the average daily amount of rainfall in the Amazon Basin.
Yes, as a matter of fact, that tattoo is of a Cottonmouth’s pattern. Like it? No, wait, don’t lecture me on ink while standing on my doorstep.
The day is still fairly young and there have been three human beings who I have no idea who they are inside my personal space. It’s not that I don’t like some people it’s just that I do not trust the intentions of most people, individually, and have no interest in trusting humans as a whole.
Okay, into the heat with an axe.
If the heat index and flying wood chips won’t buy me some solitude I’m going to get a six pack of PBR and see what happens next.