Well, I felt really stupid this morning. And then I felt even more stupid around lunch time. And then I felt supremely stupid at the end of the day. Why? Because I was having a bad day.
Actually, check that. There was nothing particularly bad about the day. I was having one of those days when it seemed like everything - and I mean EVERYTHING - was out to irritate me.
From Atomic Red Studios, located in a secret bunker somewhere in Northeast Georgia, I’m Michael Blackston and sometimes I have days when waking up on the wrong side of the bed is an understatement. The problem is, the stuff that gets under my skin, really shouldn’t. By the end of the day, I can find myself in a ridiculous headspace, and I’m not alone. I’ve seen footage of people just like me. One young man at a gas pump got so angry with a door compartment on his motorcycle that when he’d had enough, he reared back to kick it. Luckily for the bike, his friend intervened and wrestled him back from his maniacal discourse before anything bad could happen. So, with a heart of transparency, let’s peek inside the pages of a diary. The diary of a rage monster.
First, I had gotten up at 4:30 am to get started on a trip to Sumter, SC for work. I’ve been traveling less recently, and I’ve been leaving out the evening before when I do travel, so I can get a good night’s sleep in my hotel room before getting up to etch my fingers to the bone. It’s a nice routine, but Sumter is close enough to where I live that the drive isn’t so bad and I often just get up little before the roosters.
I like Sumter. There’s plenty to eat, a movie theater should I decide to drop 80 bucks for a single ticket and concessions, an Air Force base that’s cool to pass by because I can pretend I’m Maverick from Top Gun, except I’m not in my twenties, driving a cool motorcycle, and about to go make out with Kelly McGillis. Other than that, it’s almost identical. And they actually have a Swan Lake in Sumter. They have an actual lake with swans.
All that to say there was no reason for me to already be having a bad day not an hour into my commute.
This morning broke my slumber finding me well in temper. My good wife and the firstborn of my loins, the male child, had been away at concert the previous eve, in the communeship of Buckhead, near the capitol of our fair state of Georgia. I was aware of the late hour they should return and had dressed our second born, a girl child, in her night clothes and bade her pleasant dreams. She went amicably, allowing me the advantage of an early turn-in myself, being that I must wake prior to the crow of the cock.
I feared the tally of hours might not be enough for my sleep, but upon waking, I felt refreshed and eager to turn a key to the day and all the promise that lay waiting beyond that mysterious door.
The initial hour of my drive was without event, and I dare say the next ones might have followed suit, had my hunger not played the beast and my bladder cried out also.
I shall stop, then, I uttered to no one in particular, and led my iron carriage into the next store of convenience. There I found the necessary venue for silencing the cries of my bladder, and though my intent was not to gather food here, for I had seen the golden sign ahead that told me the time was Bo and my mouth lathered at the thought of a buttery biscuit stuffed with Cajun filet, I did, indeed, endeavor to procure a vat of cola from the fountain.
The fountain brought forth a delicious brown syrup and water mixture in a cascade over a mountain of crushed ice inside my cup, and did so at the mere touch of my finger. My spirits were on high with the aspect of such cold refreshment and soon, I should feel my taste buds seizing, then giving in to the salivatory seduction that is the Cajun filet biscuit with two slices of cheese. Could such rapture be met with foe, and at so early an hour? Surely I would have thought Nay! But alas, fine diary, rock would soon strike flint in the form of a thin, plastic lid. A cluster of them to be exact.
The discs that were to be the barrier between the contents of my cup and the possible soaking of my lap had been stacked anew and tucked tightly into a space by what I can only assume were the minuscule hands of a baby midget. I was scarcely able to insert my own fingers well enough into the stack, for they are fattish and resemble the stubby links of sausage one might request at the House of Huddle. My ire became piqued as I contemplated my course, wondering why on God’s green earth the attendant would be loathe to leave room for the selection of a singular lid. I settled upon the idea of using a fingernail to lift the corner of the topmost lid, and while I was successful in my endeavor of sliding a nail underneath, the lid would not come forth. Once I tried to lift it, then a second time, now thrice, but to no avail. It was stuck to its brothers like a glue of the most voracious variety, making impossible the prospect of retrieving just one, or any for that matter, for the entirety of the cluster of discs was too large to be withdrawn from its keep. I roasted with enmity toward the lids, marking inwardly how silly I must seem to God, Who created all and gave the discs no soul, nor reasoning. It did not matter.
BLAST THESE CURSED LIDS OF PLASTIC!, I shouted and an employee the size of a thimble next to me became startled.
You! I said indignantly and squeezed mine eyes to slits toward him. You, sir, have brought shame upon this place by so carelessly packing these discs. And now, lest I prevail, I shall risk the appearance of incontinence with a large wet stain upon the front of my pantaloons. A pall upon you sir, and may shadows of woe consume thy house!
Dude, I’m just doing my job, he bade haughtily and I stormed away.
I am sorry, dear diary. I have acted the fool.
Most Honorable Diary,
I am a man unhinged of late. While I was eventually able to rescue a single plastic lid from its dungeon of a hole, thereby keeping my clothes dry during my commute, my day, I fear, has become more hateful still. It would seem I have been visited by an illness that knocks at my door oftener than I care for. I cannot seem to hold anything in my hands today, causing all manner of embarrassment and irritation. Mother calls this condition The Dropsies. I call it hell!
Diary, I am unable to efficiently produce the etchings for which I am called to do if every time I pick up my hand piece, I knock over my glass of tea, or my iPhone, or accidentally poke a customer in the eye. How then, shall I seed my wallet? Surely an artist with clumsy hands does not curry the favor of those seek a master. Therefore what shall I do if this new development persists? I will tell you. To quote a lyric from OLIVER, I shall scream. I shall scream, I shall scream, I shall scream.
The final straw with this fresh bane was when I dipped my hand into the bag of popped corn I have punched earlier, and, intending to grasp a quantity of several at once and shovel them into my mouth, my plan was thwarted once again by my painfully sausage-like fingers. They clasped a goodly amount of the kernels and had no failure removing them from the bag, but alas, the task was too much for such a poor excuse for extremities and the very moment before I was able to cram them into my mouth, the pressure holding them together loosed and the entire lot exploded from my hand like so much buttery shrapnel from war’s tastiest grenade. The popped corn flew in every direction except for whence it was meant, and I flew into a rage, cursing their very existence of the snack.
I clutched another handful from the bag and vaulted it against the wall bedside me, somehow hoping to cause pain to something inanimate, fluffy, and light. I called it names and I rebuked the evil emitting from the bag that lay before me.
Foul treat, I despise you! Whisps of Satan! Your stench both draws and repulses me! Be gone, for thy taste is a billowing siren song where dwells sadness and despair!
Workmen stared in the direction of my outburst, knowing not how to react, until I one of them approached and offered to rid me of this thorn in my side.
You gon’ eat that?
I fear for my sanity, diary. Pray for me.
In your debt,
Why do I even bother placing quill to your parchment?! This is the very problem, is it not? Here am I spilling the worst of my personal flaws to a book, as if there were a living, breathing entity within the binding that would benefit me by council. Ha! Perhaps it was the fatalist part of this entire matter that I made the first stroke, lending the idea of consciousness to any object wherein its molecular structure, there be no hint of blood. I have jumped off the cliff. Now, by the end of this day, I see that wayward cup lids and an episode of the dropsies were mere trivialities compared to the fit I have now pitched at yet another item that could not possibly bear a soul, nor ill intent.
‘Twas merely a water bottle, and nothing more. It made no malevolence against me, spoke no threat, yet by the end of the matter, I had beaten the poor bottle against the pavement of the sidewalk.
I only wished for it remain inside of the plastic bag I had earlier designated as a trash receptacle. I meant good by it, that I should be the good steward and stow my garbage away from the rest of decent society, to contain it properly. I needed it no more, for it promised not another drop of refreshment. But the bottle would not stay in the bag. I placed it there, gently, and having satisfied that I was ready to start my truck, bucked the belt around my waist and ignited the engine. Alas, before I was able to pull the lever into drive, I hear the bag in the passenger seat floorboard settle awkwardly and the bottle rolled out.
This would not do.
I retrieved the bottle and reapplied it to the bag, yet it rolled out again, immediately upon my sitting back.
Once more, I retrieved the bottle and placed it, nay, slammed it violently back into the bag, daring in my heart that it should have the audacity to further escape. There seemed to be a peace by then, that the bottle would relent. I was able to re-buckle, pull the lever into drive and spring the vehicle forward toward home at last. Home, where there awaited a shower and the prospect of an early retirement to my bed.
As soon as I was dedicated to my course, out into the street where stopping to re-trash a delinquent bottle is more difficult, I hear the bag settle again and the bottle roll out, this time completely beneath the passenger seat, as if it would hide from me.
Now, in my head, I knew the right thing to do. It would certainly be folly to give in to the rage I felt at the moment for a plastic bottle. Folly though, appeared to be the order of the day. I felt to be at the mercy of my heart and not my head in any case, I screamed the truck to a halt by the side of the street and charge out, around to the passenger side door. The bottle was nowhere to be seen, but I knew. I knew exactly where it was hiding inside its cave under the seat. I could almost hear it laughing at me. Had I not capped it from the start, I feared I might hear it audible, which angered me more.
I thrust my hand beneath the seat, ignoring the sticky remnants and grainy residue of things that had fallen there before unbeknownst to me, and tried to get my fingers around the bottle. I could feel it inches, even centimeters from my grasp, but budging back ever so slightly and out of my reach any time my flesh felt its cold plastic skin.
This game of cat and mouse pushed me to a new mental state. It turned me into something primal and without any sense of reason whatever.
The yell that this induced from my lungs resembled nothing of the man I saw in the mirror. It was the scream of a madman or a monster. When I finally got my hand around the bottle, I squeezed, with intention, harder than was necessary. I imagined I could hear shrieks of pain, and this brought me joy.
Immediately, I brought the bottle outside the truck and raised it before my eyes, still gripping it with terrible fervor.
Disobey me, will you?! I’ll see to it you stay put from now on. You have brought this upon thyself!
I struck that bottle on the pavement over and over and over again, screaming fresh with every insane blow. Traffic slowed to watch the spectacle. It was only after a passerby, who apparently had been in my position before, hollered his approval - Woo HOO! Git ‘er done! - that I came to my senses and realized what a buffoon I was being.
After all, diary, it was just a plastic bottle. How could I blame a plastic bottle?
It was the bag. The bag was to blame.
And I’m sorry, dearest diary, for writing to you so harshly before.
Currently seeking treatment,
Ok, so obviously, I’m trying to be funny, but just in case anybody thinks I was being serious anywhere in this piece, please observe the following disclaimer:
The previous enactment is a work of fiction. None of the insanity of the story you just heard is real. Michael does not write in a diary, nor is he from civil war times as indicated by the style the prose indicates. While Michael did actually become enraged while attempting to retrieve a plastic lid one morning, he did not yell at a little person. There was no bag of popcorn …. wait, okay, there WAS a bag of popcorn because there’s usually a bag of popcorn, but never was it thrown against a wall. That would waste good popcorn. No plastic bottles were harmed in actuality and Michael usually chuckles like a good-natured gentleman when they roll out of the trash bag. Have a nice day and quit taking yourself so seriously.
We’ve all had those little moments though, haven’t we? I’d love to hear about yours.
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