I’ve been thinking about the future a lot lately, especially the part of the future that doesn’t have me in it any more. I think I will be more at ease, more capable of being comfortable in the now, when I have better provided for the security of my family.
So off I go to the place where these plans are made. I won’t say exactly where because that’s not how I play. I’m feeling pretty good as I go inside, kind of the way I hope to feel after I finish writing this.
The lady I had come to meet had actually approached me first, happening upon my email address from a stray business card. After a few months of phone and email tag, explanations of my basic situation and my non-status as an industrialist (Business card), countered with assertions that she and her company could help me and that we should form a relationship, I gave in and made an appointment.
Ten o’clock in the morning on a rainy Wednesday and I’m heading for the office. The elevator made some unnerving sounds while carrying me to the third floor. One sound, similar to the one made by stretching steel cables, seemed a bit premature for a building so recently renovated. In the end it was just a sound and our moment arrived, right on schedule.
She looked to be forty five but could have been quite a bit younger, her careless gray hair drained the color from her face in the badly lit four person conference room. My skin goes green under that kind of light, so I am sure I wasn’t exactly Steve Stunning either.
She wore a suit, navy single breasted with a striped shirt. It looked to be of good quality but it wasn’t sharp. There were accordion creases inside the elbows and other signs it was a bit overdue for a trip to the cleaners. Not that I was one to talk, wearing Levi’s, a t-shirt and a twenty year old Land’s End rain jacket.
We shook hands and she smiled in the way people do when they don’t know what to say. I have seen this before and it’s usually a red flag, but I try to acknowledge the flags at this point without acting on them. I mean, people have a right and a responsibility to look out for their safety, so no harm, no foul, right?
The receptionist helped me to a cup of coffee while my nervous new friend excused herself for a moment, returning with a colleague, a diminutive older lady in a yellow (More for fall than spring) suit. I’m trying not to think it’s too bad she couldn’t find anyone bigger.
The atmosphere seemed to calm itself for about the first five minutes or so, with the obligatory exchange of pleasantries and statements of the obvious: “It’s important to look after your financial security, especially in your retirement years” Thank you.
Once we passed that and the rest of the small talk we were almost comfortable until I mentioned the word “Psychiatrist”. Things started happening really fast after that. Anything that might be construed as an attempt to secure my business stopped. I got instead an offer of a budgeting form in my email (Still waiting on that) and the meeting was over. My new friends ended our relationship without shaking my hand or looking at my face.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: There are a lot of crazy people in the world. I’m one, so are some of you, probably more than are willing to admit it. Some of us like to take the high ground and say “I’m not the one who’s crazy, it’s you.”. In fact, that’s what I am doing right now with regard to my former friends and I really should just come off of it. The truth is I AM crazy and, crazy as they may be, odds are good that they’re not as crazy as me. Like it or not, intentional or not, I just plain scared the hell out of those two ladies.
I get it, honest I do. I have it in mind to say that I am not the cause of their fear but, if I am the trigger of their fearful reactions, is that not as bad? It’s like peeling an onion. Each layer reveals a new argument, or the reminder of an old one. The conflict never ends. There is no center, there is no sense, there are only two frightened women and the man they fear. Could I rail against the injustice, as I might against the irrational fear of white women who might cross the street to avoid a black man, knowing nothing else about him? Should I support the argument that we should all be allowed to feel safe, or is it deeper than that? It takes work for me to feel safe in the world and the work is never done. My mood swings, depression and manic episodes keep me in a constant cycle of self prosecution and speculation. “What have I done? Was I justified? Will anyone care if I am justified or will they only care that they were offended?”. Should I care if others don’t and, if I should, why?
I’m afraid,you bet. I’m afraid someone might hear me talking to myself (it gets intense sometimes) and start making with the whole irrational fear thing I mentioned earlier. I worry that this fear might lead to a confrontation that I won’t be able to defuse or flee and I will end up being arrested or shot down for going to the grocery store (one of the places I fear the most).
If this seems a bit irrational, I offer this: It will never happen until it does, just like a thousand other things people said would never happen, and when they do, there it is. No un-ringing the bell.
I’m still working on financial plans for the future through my bank. I’ve been a customer there for twenty years and none of the ladies there are scared of me at all. Small favors.