He was just doing his job
While down south visiting mom, I go for a ritual walk in my old neighborhood through a local museum’s grounds towards the waterfront to chill and read a book.
The moment I stroll onto the grounds, I’m confronted by a security guard whizzing up on a golf cart.
He tells me I must leave the property and enter through their main entrance a half a mile away. And that I have to check in at their front desk.
I’m momentarily befuddled — in all my decades of being here there’s never been an issue walking through the museum’s sprawling backyard. I tell him I’m halfway to the main entrance so I’ll continue there and do the thing he wants.
He shakes his head no, tells me I must backtrack all the way back out and then loop around to the “official” entrance on the street.
It’s hot and I think he’s being entirely unreasonable so I tell him don’t be silly and that I’ll keep going the way I’ve been going. I blow him off and walk away, leaving him idling in his cart.
I think he too was befuddled by my act of resistance since he didn’t chase after and mow me down. Or maybe it was his youth dealing with a recalcitrant older man like myself?
At any rate, I make it across the grounds to their entrance, grab a coffee from their cafe and make my way to the waterfront. Another guard (in a golf cart, of course) stops me and says I must pay and wear a band. Ugh.
I ask him what’s changed, that all these years the grounds were open to everyone. He says, “COVID.”
I get the change part… but Covid while outdoors on these huge grounds with most people inside the museum? He shrugs as if to say, it is what it is. I tilt my head in reply as if to say don’t bullshit me, it’s about money.
Silent comms completed, I shrug, turn and make my way back out of the museum grounds per the guard’s request and detour to the nearby college which also has a waterfront and is mercifully open to all still.
I make it to the promised ocean, sink into a lawn chair by the water and let out a long exhale. It’s beautiful with salty breezes wafting in and a light drizzle from the skies to calm my spirit.
But I can’t find peace. I’m bothered. Yes, a bit by getting kicked out of my lifelong “backyard” at the museum that I’d always roamed freely before.
Yet I’m bothered more by how I responded to the young security guard. He was just doing his job and had nothing to do with the museum’s change of policy. I’m unsettled and can’t meditate or read or write.
I pick my stuff up and make my way back to the museum. I stop at the entrance to my now prohibited shortcut and look down the side road where the guards usually patrol. I see the kid way down at the end and wave my arms at him to come.
He hesitates and doesn’t budge. He’s probably wondering what the crazy old dude wants now.
I wave again more emphatically (and friendlily) trying to appear as unthreatening as possible.
After a moment’s pause he starts up the cart and warily rolls my way. As he gets close, I make a conciliatory gesture with my hands and say I’ve been thinking of how I acted towards him and I wanted to apologize.
I tell him I know he was just doing his job and it wasn’t his fault changes were made. And that I was being a cranky old coot.
His body language visibly relaxes. “I really appreciate you saying that, thank you so much!”
I smile, he smiles, and we bump fists and part ways with peace in our hearts.
NOTE TO SELF: Don’t start becoming that old coot you swore you’d never be.
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