September 21, 2005

Start: Valdosta, Georgia
Columbus, Georgia
Miles: 205 miles
Route taken: Route 84 west to Route 27 north, exit at
Columbus, Georgia.


        The front desk called my room at 11:05 a.m. perturbed that I hadn’t evacuated my room yet and rudely asked me if I was checking out today.

        The time to leave is 11 a.m., but I had told them in the morning that I was running a little late. The woman I talked to didn’t seem to have a problem with it, but the woman who called me wasn’t willing to give me the extra time.

        I told her I would be out in about 10 minutes. She didn’t seem to care much for that response so I told her now it would probably be more like 20 minutes.

        So began the passive aggressive contest and force of wills. It began with her sending the maid down to knock on the door. I anticipated this move and put the do not disturb sign on the door. She countered with having the gardener rev up the leaf blower outside my window. I turned the television up louder. She thought she had me when she cut of my telephone. I used my cell phone instead. I knew she was going to cancel out my hotel key so I left the door ajar when I went across the street to grab something to eat.

        I delayed my shower and took my time packing up. When I did get to the front desk she had smoke coming out of her ears. She told me to have a nice day through gritted teeth.

        Who won the war? Neither of us really. She heaped more aggravation on her already stressed out day and I spent the first 40 miles chastising myself for engaging something so ridiculous.

        It really was a supreme waste of energy and rather than thinking about more cerebral issues was stuck obsessing about the encounter with the woman.

        Usually this type of stuff doesn’t bother me anymore. I have spent the past two years trying to rid myself of senseless confrontations and focusing on more positive uses of my time.

        Every now and then, however, my competitive nature will spring up and I will rise to one of these pointless challenges.

        As I was replaying the morning in my mind, trying to purge it before I beat myself up any further I stumbled across a beautiful cotton field in bloom.

        The white material was bursting out of the knee-high plants and I had to turn the bike around to see it.

        I parked on the other side of Route 84 and walked toward the field.

        The field was fairly large and it made me wonder who picked all that cotton. I doubted there was a machine to do it, but I saw no activity at all in the field even though the crop looked to be ready to harvest.

        Pieces of cotton had fallen from plants and was on the ground, getting dirty from laying in the dirt.

        I pulled about a handful from a plant and noticed how easy it separated from the plant. It was extremely soft and felt comforting in the palm of my hand as I made a fist.

        I stood in the sun and kept slowly pumping the cotton, consciously monitoring my breathing as I squeezed.

        Though it was hot and the sweat poured off of my face, I stood there for 15 minutes just repeating this exercise.

        By the time I got on the bike my frame of mind was better and my mind right. I continued down the road thinking of purer thoughts as the cotton fields followed me on both sides.

        By the time I reached Blakely on Route 27 I was roasting. The sun had won this round and I sought shelter. I found a gas station and turned in for some relief.

        While I was inside I bought some lottery tickets. It was a purchase made from sheer boredom.

        Most people know the lottery is a tax on the poor who play it. In California the lottery was passed off as helping schools but the proceeds didn’t supplement school funding, merely replacing existing funding.

        I scratched at the tickets and truly took no joy in winning 10 dollars. If I had any pride at all I would have donated the money somewhere. I looked at my gas receipt from my fill up and it was $12.50. A year ago it would have cost me seven dollars. I took the 10 dollar bill and jammed it in the front left pocket of my jeans.