Death Valley…. 4 Corners…. 3 miles past the Kansas/Colorado border…. The drive around the Great Salt Lake, after exit 91, going west…. I-80, from Rawlins to Rock Springs, in Wyoming…. I would lump these places (and all others that have no food/water/or greenery) into the DESOLATE folder of my travel-a-mony, shove it back into my file cabinet of boring memories, and go out to play.
Except for this.
While I tend to travel through these places a few times a year, in each spot, and for no good reason that i can tell, ( and when i am at my most mind-numbing, bored-out-of-my-guts part of the trip, wanting to turn around and never speak of it again), something amusing/shocking happens. I either see, or experience something that makes it JUST worth while enough to keep going. Nooo, aliens don’s abduct me. (Although i sometimes beg for it. Honestly, when my option for music is the gospel/mariachi/medical channel, or the all-sound-effects-all-the-time channel, who can blame me, right?)
What does happen is some ……SOMETHING……..
Something happens to pull me out of my self pity, lets me focus on the here and now for a bit, and solves the problem enough for me to move through to my destination. It could be that concrete Tree of Life sculpture (you know, with the big ol balls hanging off it?), or what i swear is a 2-headed hawk circling over a dead deer, off to the side. It could even be that cattle truck wreck caused by the high winds, bad roads, and curve at milepost 176.
Good or bad, they are heavensent to me, not because i enjoy seeing sad/bad/shocking/entertaining/good things, but because they let me move forward. With hope. With meaning.
Interestingly enough, I feel that being put on hold, pressing 2 to speak in my native language, or having to repeat my issue to several people in a row makes me feel just as desolate. When i call a number to get assistance with an issue, I’m assume that they can assist me, that they are qualified to do so, that they have their morning coffee, and no one has peed in their wheaties. I guffaw at my self a bit when i catch myself dumbfounded as i’m being put on hold with the 3rd operator, somewhere around the world, who is very politely and enthusiastically letting me know, “This is not a problem. No, no. This, this can be taken care of simply if i just hold while i am transferred to another department.” (it’s the same guy each time! I know it! I recognize the speech impediment!)
i don’t have a problem at all. which means, obviously, that it MUST be all in my head.
“Really?” I think. “Am i this crazy/stupid/out of touch?” Is this what the assistance number is for then? For us silly people to be enlightened as we come to the reality that we don’t really have a problem. WE ARE the problem?
I’m assuming, as some others do, that we will just have to fight through this muddled game to get to the end result. “ok, i don’t care who’s the idiot. i just need my ……(fill in the blank with what my need is here)……. to be better!” So i press whichever buttons on my phone connect me to whichever man/woman/child/monkey is appointed to be smarter than me in this arena, and grit my teeth while i go through the song and dance that is the customer service phone call nightmare.
No wonder i am feeling desolate. WHO CAN SAVE ME FROM THIS???
And then, SOMETHING happens. SOMEONE takes pity on me. For instance, Jerry in Kansas. He is my savior this week. I needed something, i didn’t know how to get that something to work, and he did. Instead of sending me around the world and back just to see if i really, REALLY wanted his help, he talked with me. Mano Y Mano. Yeah, i just pulled out the mano y mano bit. Because i felt like a person with him. I felt like he wanted to solve my problem. I KNOW!!!!! Odd, that.
It was like seeing that wreck on the side of the road all over again! You know it is out there. You know that you could happen upon it at any time, and yet when you are lucky enough to see it, to experience it, you don’t know what to do with it until you are past it and have to appreciate it in hindsight.
“What waaas that?”, you wonder, driving by at 80 miles an hour. “Was that a deer? An orangutan?” “And what was the truck it was hooked to? A semi? An RV?” All these things go by as you make sure you are not the rubber-necker that is holding up traffic, but in your mind, you think up a plausible story to go with the flash of what you saw. How the truck had to have run up the side of the hill to get that animal smacked just right….. How old the deer was.. Did it have a family?….. …… …… What? you don’t do that?
You might not have gone the desolate places i have then.
The same thing happens with the phenomonen of having a live operator actually know what he is talking about. And be polite, AND do what it takes to solve the problem. “WHO is this genius?” “Why is he talking with me?” “Shouldn’t he be in a…a…a board meeting or something?” “What kind of donuts does he like, and where could i send a shipment to say thank you?” “Does he have kids or a love life? (No how could he, if he is this dedicated to knowing an answer on this line).” …. … …. And it keeps me going through all the hoops and beeps that it takes for me to get back to Jerry, just in case i drop the line.
Not only that, but this rare behavior keeps me wondering about all the next times i have to go back into the land of service operators. “How bout now? could i be lucky twice in my life? could i get another Jerry?” No! of course not. Those events only come around every once in a lifetime.