Screaming Face on Wood by Garry Gay

Why This Era of Extremes Forces Me To Back Down

People are losing their goddamn minds. The rage machine is roaring out of control and if you’re in doubt, all you have to do is spend five minutes on the social media platform of your choice or even less, internalizing recaps of the evening news.

The messiness of our existence is enhanced by this era of extremes.

Mother nature isn’t fucking around, and her handiwork is wreaking havoc both at home and abroad. Thunderous thunder storms that suddenly overpower a pleasant sunny day. Back-to-back earthquakes and the aftershocks that wickedly promise more on the way.

And the loss of any ounce of predictability that forces the recognition of how scarily helpless we are as mere dots in an unfolding plan that won’t take our survivability into consideration when the outcome is revealed.

No wonder the globalized hysteria has reached new heights.

And then we have the “booming economy” to contend with, and how a shit load of Americans who are miserably weathering the tempestuous residue of the economic crisis of 2008, are terribly over-worked and underpaid.

The messaging that’s energetically elaborated by Ivanka Trump, who has taken it upon herself to be the “ambassador of goodwill” when it comes to making sure that the job sector is robust enough to ensure her future presidential run, seems to be immersed in the falsehood of how the financial woes of the working class is rapidly improving.

Yeah, right!

The media has inexplicably decided to advance this misleading narrative of how the once-flatlined employment rate has been miraculously revived back to life — many thanks to the Trump administration.

But for those of us who are bearing the brunt of the suffering stemming from the hostility of a stagnant job market, we can attest to the real life struggle of finding full-time employment, that comes with a benefits package, and possibility of a career trajectory that used to be standard back in 2006, but has become almost extinct in 2019.

Regular folks have to juggle mandatory day jobs with added gigs that still don’t combine into enough take home pay to cover basic requirements, which means extra curricular activities that are necessary to provide much-needed balance and evidence of cohesive family units, have been indefinitely postponed.

And even if you are single, the likelihood of settling down and building a family of your own fills you with dread, as you wearily contemplate the obstacles that would make those objectives difficult to accomplish.

Dating is hard because meeting people who are reasonably sound is akin to the chances of winning the lottery. And even if you do manage that feat there’s all the pertinent logistics to hash out, and when that involves the collision of personal strides and credit negligence, those clashes can be unrecoverable.

Stress levels are at an all-time high, and while I’m working hard to keep my head above water with the infusion of a health-conscious lifestyle, that includes daily intake of CBD tinctures and the teachings of Buddhism, there are still days and nights when I want to strangle the Insta-worthy crowd that I weirdly rely on for self-masochism.

I’m not as social as I used to be, and that may have a lot do with the the final departure from New York City, and how that displacement after spending almost two decades in a place that became my hometown, left me without the incentive to establish new and flourishing relationships.

Almost four years later, and I’m still not as outgoing as I used to be. I definitely don’t enjoy the company of strangers who are may or may not be interested in getting to know me better. And friendships that ended badly aren’t missed, while current relationships are handled mostly through devices.

It’s safe to say that laying low while the storm rages on is the best mode of survival that guarantees some level of sanity.

But even staying home all day doesn’t save you from the winds of discontent, that blasts through when you answer the front door and find a sweaty and irate delivery man holding your package.

It was all because of how I was in the bathroom arranging stuff, and didn’t hear the knock at first, and then when it was loud enough for my attention, I detangled myself and headed straight for the door.

Once it was open, there he was, standing there, writing on his pad, which meant that he was about to leave the note that proves attempted delivery.

I smiled and apologized for taking too long to get to him, and then he proceeded to berate me, for not at least yelling the words that would’ve signaled that I was on my way.

At first it seemed like a joke, but then I took a good look at him and realized he was dead serious. And more than that — he was visibly irritated. He was also dripping in sweat, and I suspected that the punishingly hot day was exacerbating his naturally heated disposition.

My younger version would’ve matched his combativeness, but in the age of gun violence and violent mood swings, there was the need for restraint, and so I politely pushed back. I explained that shouting to signal my imminent approach to the door might not have made a difference since he most likely wouldn’t have heard me.

But this guy wasn’t willing to let it go.

As I signed for the package, his tirade continued, and that’s when I began to feel the chills of fear overtaking my body.

What if tried to hurt me? Who would step in and prevent the unfathomable?

He was clearly not being reasonable because the fact that I wasn’t able to promptly respond when he knocked on my door, shouldn’t evoke such a strong reaction from someone who makes a living delivering packages to countless locations.

After quickly signing for the package, I gave him back the clipboard, and I was surprised he didn’t snatch it from my hands.

I tried not to look scared, but I could feel my facial expression exposing how alarmed I was by the unexpectedly volatile climate that I was enduring from a stranger, who was chiding me for reasons that had everything to do with his demons.

He deposited a firm one-liner before making his exit, and I offered a weak smile in response. I watched him walk away and descend the stairs, and then I entered my apartment and locked the door.

The weightiness of defeat overwhelmed and shook me to the core as I wearily sat down and contemplated why I didn’t try to defend myself against the attack that I did nothing to initiate.

I concluded that my disciplined approach to the raging delivery man who was big enough to snap my neck in a blink of an eye, was borne out of the need to not become a badly bruised woman or even worse, an overnight hashtag, based on the need to defend myself against the monstrous beast of our existence.

Gone are the days when you can proudly stand up for yourself, and not risk the threat of violent retaliation that will not only kill you, but your restless spirit will suffer vilification by the killer, who will push the case of how the “angry Black woman” inspired his killer instincts.

I had to back down because this age of extremes makes it impossible not to consider the rabidness of individuals who seemingly have the right to take out their frustrations on anyone who keeps them waiting longer than they would prefer, after a couple of knocks.

There’s also my emotional state, and how the ability to stay within the confines of a manageable capacity is the daily mantra that can’t be interrupted by unplanned encounters that hamper my steady progression.

After meditating for a bit, I opened the box that contained my collection of CBD products and burst out laughing at the irony of how my wellness package ended up in the hands of a highly-stressed delivery man, who reminded me of what many of us can turn into if we don’t find healthy ways to avoid those symptoms.

You don’t have to go looking for shit, because shit will find you. But when it does, the discipline of staying docile until the storm passes will hopefully do the trick.

For now…

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