After exiting the park, I decided to go into town anyway and pick up another little flask-full and some tobacco and a few snack items. I stood on the edge of the road for a while, with no luck.
Finally, a Chilean guy pulled over and took me to town. He didn’t speak very good English. Ok, he didn’t hardly speak English at all. But somehow, we were able to have choppy, awkward small talk about how a volcano had gone off in his home country, although none of his family or friends were hurt by it. He also was able to direct me to a few good restaurants in town.
I dropped my stuff off in the town center. The staff at the city hall was very friendly. I suppose they have a fair amount of tourism here. The town is very historic and nice, lots of little boutiques and antique shops that are completely useless to me. I did go to a place called Spelunkers, recommended to me by the Chilean fella. It’s a local chain, so not necessarily a mom and pop place, but it was close enough for my standards and hunger level at the time. And holy crap. That was an excellent decision! The cavern burger was unbelievable for the price!
After that, I headed for the post office, taking a “scenic route” through the neighborhoods of Front Royal. While on my slap happy waltz through town, some dude rolling his trashcan out ot the street trail magiced me 2 cans of Budweiser, which was pretty cool though totally random. After that, I continued on, observing the very black and white contrast of the streets through the town: some streets were quite sketchy while others were very nice.
Anyway, when I got to the post office, I decided it was time to mail back my winter gear (since the tops of the mountains were finally staring to green out some). I specifically asked the clerk, before taping up the box and everything else, how expensive it would be to ship home certain items, and if it would be cheaper to use priority mail or standard shipping. She weighed everything, and recommended priority mail. Ok no problem, so I packaged everything up and hand it back to her a few minutes later. Well when she rings up the box again, the price has DOUBLED from what she quoted me. I ask her if she’s sure it will cost that much. She says “Yep, sorry I put in the wrong size for the dimensions” and then proceeds to stand back and fold her arms and lock eyes with me.
“I’m sorry, but you quoted me half this price. That’s exactly why I brought it up here first to see which would be cheaper” I say, steam beginning to rise out of my nostrils and ears.
“Well, I’m sorry. You’ve already used our tape and made the box.” She folds her arms again, as if challenging.
I hesitate for a moment. Is this lady really just f*cking with me? Is she just giving me shit because I’m a hiker or something? I don’t get it. She’s being a cunt for no reason.
I decide to take the moral high ground. I reluctantly pull out my credit card and watch as the rest of my weekly budget is depleted.
“Thanks for using the US post office. Please take our survey on the back for a chance to win [some of your money back].” she has the balls to say as she hands me the receipt. At that point, I lose it. It’s the first time since I’ve been on the trail that I feel my anger completely overtake me. I had done so well at remaining calm up to this point, but for some reason this lady sent me completely over the edge.
“No, thank you for being completely f*cking useless at your job” I snort back. “I really don’t think you want me to answer your god damn survey”
“Excuse me?” the whale asks in that shocked I’m-a-polite-proper-bitch-from-the-South voice.
“Go to hell” I say. I shake my head and turn my back on her. My entire body is steaming right now. I’m ready to swing a fist at the face of one of these waspy old shits that are all now staring at me in disgust.
I storm out of the office. I throw my pack down to pull out my pouch of tobacco and quench my anger, when a man comes running up to me.
“Hey are you hiking the AT??” He asks me enthusiastically.
“Yeh” I say back. I couldn’t help but sound defeated and angry. I look down and continue rooting through my pack.
“Hey man, I’ve always wanted to do that. Here you look like you could use some supplies” he says. I didn’t even notice the bag of groceries he was holding in his hand, blinded by my own selfish anger of the moment. He hands me the bag.
Immediately, I feel a sharp transition in my mental state (god, I swear I’m bipolar sometimes), and I am immediately just so incredibly grateful of this simple kind gesture. It was such a sharp transition and contrast to my experience from inside the PO I just started laughing like a hysteric fool for a few seconds.
“Thank you. Thank you so much, you have no idea how much this means to me right now” I said in a small, humble voice.
“Well here! I got some more for ya. Not saying you stink but hang on…” He says. He runs back to his truck, and returns with a handful of quarters and a cold Gatorade.
“Here’s some quarters for laundry” he says “and some Gatorade. I know it’s hot as hell out here, so have a little hydration”
Overwhelmingly grateful, I thank him again profusely as he gets back in his truck and leaves.
I sit there, outside the post office in direct sunlight, just dumb struck. I realize at that moment that the bad times are short and fleeting, and totally perspective. People will be awesome, and sometimes strangers will suck. There is nothing you can do to stop that. Just be yourself, and let things play out as they will. The only thing you can control is yourself, and throwing a temper tantrum is just certainly no way to make things better. I realized, in that moment, that anger and rage is derived from selfishness. My whole life, those feelings stem from feeling threatened, or feeling like it’s my god-given right to be angry. My life is not more important than anyone else’s, thus there is no need to act out like it is. People are gonna royally screw up and 9 times out of 10 they won’t realize they are hurting you. I don’t believe that people act out directly maliciously, thus from this point onward I will treat anyone who acts negatively toward me in a forgiving manner, because they probably don’t know what they are doing.
I left out of town wearing my boots instead of my Crocs, as there was too much mud and I was unable to get proper traction with the Crocs. I passed a few peeps on the trail, and they were shocked that I even owned a pair of REAL hiking shoes!
Anyway, the next shelter just outside of town was super cool. It came equipped with a front porch, a solar shower, and adirondack chairs! We had a good time just hanging out and relaxing as the mosquitoes began to come in heavy. Ginger-T studied Chinese while he was in High School.. Damn who does that? That’s wicked cool. I wish I had gone to school in England.
I often times find myself in a state of technological rejection while in the woods. I keep my phone on airplane mode most of the time to save battery (no, I legitimately do. It helps save power. For real.), thus I have no contact with the outside world unless it’s on my terms: when I deactivate AM. Well, I get so used to keeping it off, that there are times that I will leave it off on purpose even if I have nothing else going on. I don’t know how to describe it.. It’s a feeling that I think very few people today below the age of 30 can understand, since we have always been in a world of 24/7 communication ability. I’m sure my parents and grandparents generation remembers that era quite well. Before we carried tracking devices with us everywhere we went.
It’s a very… free feeling. And it makes me realize just how addicted I personally am to social media. There is no real need to check Facebook every 5 minutes. “Turn the god damn thing off and socialize with your forest friends. You’re on the trail for f*cks sake” I tell myself a lot.
Note: Sorry I didn’t have any good photos from today 😦