I am back at the hotel after a long day, but on my drive up here I realized I missed out on telling you a big part of yesterday.
Yesterday, before getting into the sardine tram to the top of the Arch, I began to panic. Besides the staggering height the tram would take us, I was going to become very close to whoever got put into the same tram as us. I began to panic because I didn't know if they would talk to us, and what to do with my eyes, so I turned to Rob and told him, "Yup, this is a sunglasses moment."
I put them on and the ride was made much easier because without them I would have been totally exposed in my eyes. By totally exposed I mean I would have to worry about every eye movement I did. There is only so much open space in the tram that with normal glasses I would have been transfixed on one spot in space, but even this isn't good because this gets odd looks as well and can be just as uncomfortable as direct eye contact. Of course the sunglasses came out and the process was made easier for me.
Going forward to today we drove from Saint Louis towards Chicago. The drive was smooth and it was rather odd to be driving with a passenger. Truly, as weird as it was to have my space in my house invaded, having a passenger is almost as weird. I have a passenger in my car maybe once every three months, but usually only for short drives.
We got to Morris, Illinois and checked into the hotel, and then drove to Chicagoland Speedway to attend the ARCA race as well as the NASCAR Truck Series Race.
Walking into the stands was odd as anytime I am at a track and not working I feel confused. My eyes instantly became transfixed on the flagstand and I was thinking, hoping, that someday I will command a post like that one on a regular basis.
As the sun went down and the lights came on taking pictures became difficult. I have a camera with me and as the Truck race began my camera was using a flash automatically. I didn't mind this, but eventually the man beside me got irritated and asked, in a harsh tone, "Could you quit using the flash. You know the flash is irrelevant with this lighting!"
I began to fumble the camera (thank goodness I had the camera strap around my neck) as I began to panic. It wasn't the request that frazzled me, but rather the tone. A harsh tone, in my mind, equals a very dangerous situation. I didn't know this person so I was unaware of how mad he actually was. Sure, he helped me earlier when my funnel cake powdered sugar made my black pants look like a checkered flag, but there was no verbal exchange. Now, I was in crisis mode.
It had been so long since I shot anything that I forgot how to turn off the flash. I went to a menu, hit a few buttons, and finally I turned a dial and the flash quit working. I told him I did it looking for some sort of thanks or some sign of deescalation, but none was given. By this time Kyle Busch was in the lead and this man showed his disapproval, but at least my flash and I had long been forgotten.
The fear I experienced in that one tone stayed with me though. This is something I have said, and will say many times because it is important. Emotions take a while to process, and while this is going on the emotion level can stay to the maximum. I was fearful for myself because I didn't know what to make of the situation. It's these random encounters that create the most stress because I have no prior info to go off of. With people I know I have prior knowledge of tones and behaviors. With those that are unknown, well, it is unknown so everything is thought of to the extreme, and with that comes fear and a state of paralysis.
It is now almost midnight, four hours since my flash irked a random person and I still feel nervous. If my flash was hurting his eyes he did have every right to tell me to not use it, but that doesn't change the fact that my reaction was the same. I can't help it, and furthermore those around me can't possibly know the impact of their tone. This is the battle I face every day.
Sleep is almost upon. Tomorrow is a new day and tomorrow night should have an amazing IZOD Indy Car race. Practice today had many three wide moments and I am looking forward to it. I just hope my enjoyment isn't ruined by this fear I am still feeling.