Parking was impossible near my launch spot on this perfect summer Sunday, so I left my kayak in the sand and asked a friendly looking couple to keep an eye on it while I parked my car. Around and around I drove. I ended up in a lot next to the volleyball, bocce courts and skatepark, a bit of a jaunt back to my boat.
I pushed off with a sigh. Choppy water made covering any real distance a challenge but I’m not an ambitious paddler. It’s really about getting away from land, seeing a different view of my usual world while being buffeted by gentle waves.
Tide was going out and a favorite sandbar was emerging. A wave heaved my kayak onto the gravel. Perched on my plastic boat, I ate a plum, let the water churn around my ankles, searched the broken sea shells for treasures and then, just sat. After a time, I climbed back in and paddled slowly back to shore.
My kayak guardians were still there. I offered them a turn while I went and got my car. She declined and pointing to the sling on his arm, he said he’d end up going in circles. I left my boat under their watchful eye and went to retrieve my car.
Now most people, when they’re parked in the big lot next to the skate park, volleyball and bocce courts, go left when they’re exiting because they’re leaving the beach. But I had to retrieve my boat so needed to take a right and go to the loop of parking where the launch is. Going in that direction is certainly less common in that lot, but it’s definitely allowed. But a bruiser in a gigantic jeep (“RHINO!” writ large in front in case it didn’t look intimidating enough) insisted I was not allowed – and drove at me gesturing like I was an asshole, how stupid was I to be trying to go that way. No graciousness or hint maybe he was trying to be helpful. I paused while he flailed at me and pulled my car slightly back so he could pass since he clearly wasn’t going to move out of what I knew to be a perfectly valid lane going in the other direction.
But for a moment, I wasn’t sure… the car looked a little like it could be a (weirdly souped- up) police jeep. He and his car had an authoritarian look. Was he a cop? I know better than to pick a fight with a cop and for a minute I thought, well then, maybe he’s right. In any case, how preposterous for me, this grey haired late 50’s (but sprightly!) woman to get in a battle with this 30-something beefcake. (Oh, but I wanted to!)
“It’s one way!” he snarled at me.
“No it’s not!” I snarled back – blood pressure pumped, paddling-zen, kaput.
He barreled past. I clearly saw, he was no policeman. He was only a jerk. A macho, bully that feels comfortable and righteous throwing his weight around in his ridiculous man-toy of a car.
“Read the sign!” he yelled.
With him out of the way, I carried on and indeed read the sign – a simple STOP sign and below it No Left Turn. Of course not. It’s a loop. I went right and circled around to my boat being watched over by the sweet couple. I looked out at the water and sky and breathing, regained my chill. Or did I. I continued to think about it – and hours later, here I am writing about this encounter.
He was so sure HE was right. And how positive I felt that I was right. (And of course I WAS right. Haha!) But I wanted to find him and bring him back to the sign so he could see, it’s okay to go that way. I really wanted to prove to that guy he was wrong – as if only then would I regain the power I somehow felt I had ceded to him in reversing. Ridiculous?
In some ways, this exchange of only moments, felt a snapshot of the way I feel in the world these days. It’s a kind of wrestling match with myself to not engage in something that probably won’t end well because the one who’s wrong just won’t look at what the sign REALLY says. I’m joking. Kind of. Ultimately, in the end, these encounters just feel toxic to me. Better to keep my mouth shut, carry on doing what I believe to be right and try to let the crap go out with the tide.