It was Independence Day. Or, at least, that’s the way it felt when I was traveling through Rhode Island on my most recent mission. And when I say “Independence Day,” I don’t actually mean in the traditional sense. Certainly not as in the summer-centric, family-oriented holiday that’s filled with fireworks and backyard barbecues. Far from it, in fact.
Let me explain. The Chief had asked me to drop what I was doing and head up to Rhode Island to scope out durable, versatile amplifiers for electric guitars. Fair enough, but Rhode Island? That’s an interesting, if offbeat, destination. Then, suddenly, it seemed to make sense. Prior to leaving for the Ocean State, I was reminded that Rhode Island was the first colony to declare independence from Britain, a fact that undoubtedly contributes to the perception that the people in the state like doing things their own way.
“Spy, due to the sensitive nature of your work, you’ll be out there alone,” The Chief told me. “No backup. Any issues with that?”
“None,” I respond. “Right now, working alone is the ticket for me.”
“Be extra careful, Spy,” The Chief said, “and don’t let this newfound freedom go to your head.”
“No worries, Chief,” I said with a slight laugh.
“Hmmm,” The Chief hummed, and then hung up.
With that, I drove off in my inconspicuous automobile (a Ferrari 458 Italia), heading to Rhode Island, which was just a few hours’ drive from my current locale. It’s been said that, when you travel through the Mississippi Delta, you can almost feel the blues rising up from the very soil. Similarly, Rhode Island’s rich history radiates throughout its culturally diverse cities and the mixture of architectural styles inherent to the state’s residential and government structures.
Rhode Island possesses a kind of hothouse individuality that was shaped by decades—centuries, really—of organic growth. Even just passing through the state brings to the surface a certain pioneering spirit that I still believe exists deep inside every American. I guess you could say that I’m Exhibit A. The more I drove around the snow-covered hills of the state, the more I wanted to go off the grid…step foot on land that appeared to my eyes to be pristine.
Motivated by what I was witnessing through my windshield, I felt bold enough to shut down the agency’s super-secret tracking/navigation device and live dangerously. I thought, “Well, I am all alone out here, right? Let the GPS gods be damned. If I get lost, I’ll find something extraordinary in the process.”
On this chilly day in one of the nation’s original colonies, I was feeling independent. I was feeling adventurous. I was feeling Rhode Island. And I’d soon also feel quite numb from walking around on the streets in the cold weather, especially after landing ankle-deep in a confounded mound of snow while approaching my second destination in Cranston. (More about what was on my agenda in a moment.) And judging by those whom I encountered during my journey, the MI pros certainly were not rude to me, nor were they oblivious to my needs. Yet, I can remember nary a full-court-press sales pitch. It was as if most of these salespeople were saying, “We want your business, but if you don’t buy anything from our store, have a nice day anyway.” Talk about individualism!
For such a small state (and I mean that in actual size, of course), Rhode Island certainly wasn’t insignificant to me. It left its indelible imprint (and sting) on my psyche (and bones). These were truly exquisite feelings that inspired this jaded Spy. Not bad for a day’s work.