Thursday, February 4, 2021

Parking Lot M

 My family had nearly disowned me. My children forced to endure my silent, and not so silent accusations of their failures in this undertaking. My wife constantly reminding me that I had to calm down. Insufferable my new middle name.

As I took my seat to register, the standard questions were posed. I wondered how many responded in a way that would remove them from consideration. 

I had travelled the route to this locale hundreds of times over the past decades. My football team of choice resided in the stadium here and for two decades I repeatedly made this journey to yell, scream and mostly wave my arms in disgust at what had just transpired. A venue where tensions were released. Where life was good and joyous.

Technically, this was a slightly different place. Today I parked my vehicle in a back corner of the enormous lot. In Lot M. Next to where the racetrack stood.

I only recall one instance of having tried to gain entrance to this particular building. It had been nearly forty years before. My wife and I drove here with our son, then less than a year old. We approached the ticket window, our tiny child soundly asleep on my chest, in a snuggly. We were turned away by the agent, informed this was a betting establishment and no one under 18 was permitted. The logic of how we might corrupt our child escaped me, but we dutifully retreated to our car and left the premises.

Today I would not repeat that mistake. There was no chance I would mess up. No, no, no, no. A thousand times no to anything you could ask.This was a pass fail test and failure was not an option. I would not, could not, be denied.

I thanked everyone who assisted me along the snaking corridor as I moved to my ultimate destination. The person who greeted me and asked me to show identification. The one who inquired as to my appointed hour. The one who forgave me being ever so slightly earlier than the earliest time for me to gain admission. The one pointing me down the hall this way and then bending that way. The one giving me instructions as to where to go to sit. And then, finally the two people who would, in the words of Clint Eastwood, make my day.

My wife asked me later how many stations there had been. I couldn't tell her, for I had been solely focused on my assignment. If I had to guess, I would say 20. But it was a blur. I only know I was at 15.

I wondered of the journey of the others who were here this morning. They knew nothing of me or my existence. Nothing of how hard I had been on those who were closest to me. Had their path been similar? Had they been kinder in getting to this moment?

I had actually offended someone even in this last hour. She was directly in front of me and had been moving too slowly at the first point of entry, typing furiously on her cell phone, lagging slightly behind the others in line. "Are you going in?" This was posed as one of those question/statements. "I am with those people." She pointed to an old couple moving ever so slowly up the ramp. I half sprinted past her. She was not happy.

Even in the midst of this undertaking I felt guilt. Twice in our collective movement forward I apologized and offered to exchange positions. She refused on each occasion, in that "it doesn't matter, you jerk" way that only made me feel worse. My mistreatment of others remained unabated, even here. I am a jerk, I thought.

"You will feel something in three." I actually think I felt it at two, but who could quibble at this instant.

And then it was done, a little round sticker placed on the back of my hand, advising as to the exact time this had transpired and reminding me to wait 15 minutes before departing.

I sat in a metal chair, in a room full of metal chairs, staring dutifully at the clock. I did not want to arise before the proper moment, for I wanted to be certain that I got every answer correct on this exam.

My 15 minutes having passed, I got up from my most recent posterior companion, thanked it for its service, and headed through the winding corridor, down the ramp and back to Lot M

This has been an extraordinarily hard year on all of us, each waiting for the tension to release. Each wanting it to be as it was when we could sit in the stands, our pleasures our only concerns. A place where life was good. For far too long those stands have remained empty, silent and cold.

Today, four decades later, the ticket agent had finally allowed me entrance. Today I could finally hear faint shouts of joy coming from the stadium. Today I could imagine the possibility of a better tomorrow. For me. For all of us.


Grandma said...

I loved the way you told this story. So many great emotions

Anonymous said...

You had me in total suspense.....Yay for your Lot (M) and your Shot!


Anonymous said...

I have been enjoying waking up to your impactful pieces..
You have the capacity to evoke a myriad of emotions through words.
Even though I won’t be chiming in each time like “EA,” know that I’m appreciating each piece..
Hopefully with time the feelings stirred will
gradually give way from rage and indignance, to increased awe/gratitude (today) followed by hope, joy, and restored confidence in our democracy.


Anonymous said...

I like this one. Quite a captivating, even surreal (Kafka-esque) narrative!


Anonymous said...

.you are such a great writer, fabulous. Any works of fiction by you in the works? even non-fiction?


Eileen said...

I loved this narrative-today I had the great joy of giving many passengers in their cars their first or second vaccine and also the great relief of receiving my first covid shot! Like many have said before, I feel like I won the lottery but also have the satisfaction of giving the winning ticket to many. Let's pray after getting our booster we can breathe a sigh of hope for the future.