Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Shock of Straying From the Hermitage

I've hardly left home this past year.  I got laid off from my job in 2010, so didn't have a job to drive to on a daily basis.  I drove to Los Angeles several times to settle my mother's estate, but I never really drove around here.  I went to the local market once a week or the bank or the hardware store, but that was about it.  Then yesterday we had to drive my son to the airport.

I have a panic disorder that sets in if I drive under certain conditions.  Sometimes driving over 45 mph does it.  Sometimes driving in heavy traffic does it.  Sometimes driving through falling snow does it.  Sometimes driving at night does it.  So, I popped an anti-anxiety pill and drove my son to my husband's office.  From there, my husband jumped in the truck and drove us the rest of the way to the airport.  Since we made the hour and half long trip, I suggested we do something in Reno like visit a store we never get to go to living in a rural community.

We decided to visit the two-story Barnes & Noble Bookstore.  I used to hang out there in my heyday when I was much younger and lived closer to Reno and didn't have these panic attacks while driving.  I loved the place because it was so decadent and relaxing.  However, last night's visit to the store was far from relaxing.  Every time I found a section of books I wanted to investigate, 3 or 4 people would glom onto me and crowd me right out of the section.  Everyone was so aggressive about getting into the space they wanted, and people were not strolling like you should in a bookstore, but racing around bumping me here and there.  I felt like I was a pinball.

I saw a Temple Grandin book on sale, and picked it up to flip through it, and this lady walking past saw me pick it up.  She stopped and started reading the book over my shoulder.  That was just too weird, so I put the book down and moved on, thinking she would pick it up and finish her reading, but she wasn't interested in the book at all.  She was just being annoying, I guess.

Then there were the security people.  I was probably acting weird by seeking out the empty spaces in the store, and so the security people would get right up next to me and hover, making me feel so uncomfortable that I left the store without buying anything.  If you can't browse, what's the point of a bookstore?  I could just order what I want online or download it to my Kindle.

When we left the store, and merged with traffic, I realized that by stopping there, we had made a grave mistake.  We now had to travel an hour and a half in rush hour traffic.  We were surrounded by vehicles that would get up to 70 mph and then slam on their brakes and slow down to a crawl.  It felt like driving in Los Angeles.  I had to pop another anti-anxiety pill because I was getting so stressed out from all the near misses in my brand new truck.

People were running stop signs and red lights, driving in two lanes at the same time (a la NYC style).  It was insane.  I couldn't believe that Reno had managed to get that crowded over the past couple of years since the last time I visited.  My husband drives a lot more than I do, and he said that there has been this shift in driver behavior from just assertive driving to aggressive-at-all-costs driving.  People are willing to run you off the road or cause you to get into an accident if it will buy them three seconds.

This is one more reason why we have to move.  Even though Phoenix is a metropolitan area, the drivers are all fairly easy-going and seem to respect the lives of others.  The last couple of times I visited Phoenix, other drivers had done such considerate things that I got all teary eyed over the revelation that not everyone instantly turns into a jerk once they get behind the wheel of a vehicle.

While we were leaving for the airport, my nosy neighbors came out and walked in front of our house twice, staring at me the whole way.  They came out because they saw me get my mail, so they knew the mail had arrived.  They sit in their window and just watch for me all day, and then come outside and do whatever I'm doing.  After picking up the mail, I had pulled my truck out and my son was loading his bags into it, so they were watching with great interest, trying to figure out where we were going.  My dogs were barking at them, and they looked over at my dogs and then looked at me as if to say, "Why don't you shut them up?" 

I don't shut them up, because I need those dogs to warn me when these neighbors are on my property.  They have to be on my property to get their mail, but they don't need to be on it at any other time, and it seems every time I look out my window one of them is trespassing.  I don't like it when they know we are not home, so I made a point of locking the gate right in front of them.  I heard the younger woman say to the older woman, "Why does she always have to lock that gate?"

I shook my head in disgust.  If my son weren't there, I would have said, "Because your husband is a pervert and he comes around looking in our windows at night." 

I have to wonder how many wives know that their husbands do stuff like that and are too afraid to confront them about it.  Or are they just oblivious and believe that he's just innocently stepping outside for a smoke, or taking an evening stroll?

When we got home, it was dark and long past the dogs' and horses' feeding times.  Lostine grew so impatient waiting for me to put her to bed, that she pushed her sliding stall door open with her nose and let herself inside.  She's got to have her routine, and she gets very nervous without it.


Deanna said...

Yikes! I'm all for you moving! Crowds are not my thing either. And don't even get me started on that type of driving . . . . !!! I'm glad y'all and your truck made it to the airport and home safely.

Mikey said...

I'm the same way in crowds. I don't like people that close to me.
Boy, I consider myself nosy, but I've got nothing on your neighbors. They are some freaky people. Can't wait for you to get down here. Will reply to your email soon!

redhorse said...

You should move to the area of Arizona where my brother lives. He doesn't have neighbors, except for the elk and coyote. He also doesn't have a phone, no line goes that far, water, that has to be hauled in, and he's the last house on the power line. Anyone who lives further down the road has solar power and generators.

fernvalley01 said...

I hate crowds as weel we have a huge mall here that I refuse to go to because is is always so loud and crowded!

achieve1dream said...

Yes, drivers suck! I can't wait to move back out into the country. I hate living near a city. People are so creepy.