I Didn’t Hold The Door For Anyone Today

Before I start, let me put all of this in context for you.

I am deathly afraid of heights. I’m not sure when this took hold, as I used to love to climb trees, climb on garage roofs, and do all kinds of other stupid crap like that as a kid. Despite all of this, I have somehow turned into someone who doesn’t even like to go up ladders if I can avoid it. Looking out and down is OK, but looking straight down, even over a railing at the mall, is enough to make me uneasy.

Despite this, I use the ladder at the day job almost daily. I’ve zip-lined through the forests of Costa Rica
1. I’ve been to the top of the Renaissance Center2, the Washington Monument, the Sears Tower, the St. Louis Arch, and the CN Tower.

I don’t like public speaking. The thought of getting in front of a lot of people used to make me vomit. Despite this, I am a regular panelist at a number of conventions, I have done numerous public readings, and participated in at least a dozen educational seminars.

Finally, the horror genre has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I grew up reading Poe, Lovecraft, and King. Horror movies are a mainstay of my viewing experience. In an average year I visit one or two haunted houses and as many as half a dozen haunted attractions
4. I write horror. Hell, I even operate a small publishing company dedicated to dark speculative fiction.7

Not to put too fine a spin on things, not only have I worked to move beyond things that I am afraid of, a lot of the times I
like to be scared.

Today I was scared and it was not at all pleasant. In fact, I’m still a little squidged out about it a few hours later.

Which, of course, is why I am writing about it.

I went out and ran errands today. It is the first time I have left the house for any significant length of time in weeks and the first time I drove my car anywhere other than the store a mile away for a month. I have been very fortunate in that The Mrs was working for much longer than I was and was able to stop off and get whatever we needed on the way home. Also, she’s not really the introverted, isolation type, so she’s been chomping at the bit for reasons to go out.

Unfortunately, one of the things I needed to do was get my allergy shots, and there is just no way that she could do that for me. I grabbed my mask, a package I needed to mail, my wallet, and my keys and headed out the door.

The first problem started as I backed out of the driveway. It had been so long since I went anywhere that I had actually forgotten the controls in my car. It was a reasonably nice day
11, so I certainly didn’t need the defrosters on high and set for 73 like the last time I drove. I couldn’t remember where that particular control was, so I just shut the whole system off.

After listening to the traffic and weather, I went to switch the channel. Surprise, surprise, I couldn’t figure out which of the steering wheel buttons was the hands free station switch. I finally stumbled on to the method of turning on my audiobook, so I listened to that...

...just in time for the chapter on how the world as we know it came to an end. Brilliant timing, that.

I got to the first of my stops -- the Post Office. This would probably be the easiest of them all. I had already paid for the postage on the package that I was sending. All I had to do was walk in, drop off the package, and walk out. I put on my mask and did just that.

I felt like I was suffocating the whole time. By the time I made it back to the car I practically had to claw the thing off. I gulped air for a while before getting back behind the wheel.

Another bit of back story for you: I worked at a hospital for about a decade. More than half that time was in a job where I wore masks like that one for 12 hours a day. A few minutes in one should have been a piece of piss. Then there’s the fact that I frequently spend 8 hours or more wearing halloween masks which completely cover my head.

I shook it off as a bit of weirdness and went on.

It didn’t get any better.

By the time I was done running errands and home, I was having a really hard time. I took a long shower and finally calmed down a bit.

There were a couple of takeaways from all of this.

  • I have a new fear/anxiety to work through.
  • Going back to work is going to be a bitch.
  • A lot of things, many of which I haven’t figured out yet, are going to be very different.
  • I am extremely lucky to have someone who enjoys doing the running around.
  • I am very thankful to all of you who have gone out and dealt with this day in and day out.
  • Thank you to all the workers who have taken on new tasks like wiping down doors and gas pumps.
  • Thank you those who put up the plexiglass near all the cash registers.
  • Thank you to everyone working to stop this disease so we can all get back to normal.

1 The Mrs was surprised that I signed
both of us up for that one.

2 In a glass elevator.

3 All in the meat world.

4 The difference, you ask? A haunted house is someplace that is supposed to be haunted for realsies
5 and a haunted attraction is one of those fun creepy places where you pay people to scare you.6

5 Like the
Eloise Asylum or Eastern State Penitentiary (both of which I have visited).

6 Like
Erebus, The Realm of Darkness, or Hush.

7 In case you are new here:
The Dragon’s Roost Press8


9 Because writing = therapy.

10 I forgot the extra gas cans that I was going to fill up and the box of stuff next to the door that needs to go into the storage unit. Because I’m just not that smart sometimes.

11 For Michigan. Rainy and only a little chilly.