Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Day one hundred and sixty three ... Something and nothing.

With independence comes vulnerability.

The life most Americans lead nowadays is a much more solitary existence. Gone are the days of switchboard operators for every call, traveling salesmen, and elevator operators.

We like to do things for ourselves. Not to mention, we have less time to communicate what we want, and so, we end up scratching our heads, wishing there were a real live human being to help us make a decision or two.

Let's take the aforementioned elevator operator.

I realize that you don't see them too much anymore, but it used to be an important job.

You'd walk in a building, press a button, and the doors would open to reveal a man in a fancy outfit who was essentially in control of your destiny. He had the intricate iron grated doors that closed in the middle. He'd let you on, and let you off. And he knew exactly when the cabin was lined up with the floor so you wouldn't trip on your way out.

"Going up?"

Why, yes. Up sounds good.

I wonder if anyone ever asked the elevator operator, "What floor do you like?"

That would stop him dead in his tracks. And I say him, because you rarely saw (in the movies of course) a woman doing that job. It was a service job, yes, but it was a male dominated position.

He may be subservient to the passenger, but he is a he. And he is in charge of the big box on a string.

But, back to the odd hypothetical conversation we were having.

"Um ... I ... I don't know, sir ... nobody's ever asked me ..."

"Well, what floor is the most popular?"

"Popular? Popular for what, sir ...?"

"Pop-ular! What floor do the most people get off on?"

"Well, sir ... I ... I suppose that would depend on the per ..."

"Goddamn it man! Just bring me to the best floor you have. Spare no expense."

"Right away sir ..."

Yeah, I'm freaking out a little. How could you tell?

I got a phone call today regarding something that could have been earth shatteringly bad.

I'm not going to get too specific about it.

Let's just say, I had something looked at--something that could have been a sign of what happens to people who smoke and drink for twenty years.

I had to drive quite a way to have it done, and then it took an exorbitant amount of time to get the results.

And the woman whose voice I will remember forever, which will be much longer now as a result of the news, said:

"Hi, Mr. Johnson. This is _______ from Dr. _______'s office. Just wanted to let you know that that was nothing. If you have any questions you can give me a call back at _______"

... click.

And I stood there in my kitchen. And I took a deep breath. And then I made a cup of fine English tea.

That was nothing.

That ... was ... nothing.


Well, it was obviously something, because it's not where it used to be.

But in her world--the medical world, and in that particular context--which is so much more important to me than her--that was nothing.

And this is, of course, fantastic news.

Because right now I'm preparing to enter a whole new phase of my life.

Those who know me know what that means.

Those who don't will just have to get to know me.

But let's just say, I have a lot of responsibility coming my way. More than I ever have in the past. More than I ever thought I would at this point in my life.

And I am poised to embrace it fully and with all faculties in top form.

But all it would take is one thing to jinx it.

One thing to screw it all up and throw me out of the sumo ring.

One thing to divert my laser beam of intent and direction, because sometimes the ricochet does far greater damage than the first strike.

But, it was nothing.

Had I been given a different diagnosis, I fear I would be a much different person right now.

I would be without immediate direction, yet unable to blame anyone but myself for the absence of a compass.

I've been less than kind to my insides, and for some strange reason, they decided to stick around for a while longer--to see if I really mean it this time.

Some of my friends tell me that they would rather not know what the state of their health is.

They say they that doctors will always find something wrong with you if you let them.

It is a common attitude and one that I once subscribed to. I don't have that luxury anymore, so to speak.

But I know that for the last three and a half weeks I have been scared out of my mind. I felt then, and still feel, that I have a better chance than some to harbor something that may end my life prematurely--something I buried deep inside me long ago. Something that, if I take the proper precautions, and allow my state of health to be monitored, can be detected early and removed. Something that can be discarded and burned in a landfill hundreds of miles away.

Something and nothing.

Thank god.

With independence comes vulnerability.

The elevator conductor may not know which floor is the best, because what's best is very much subjective. But, if one is of the mindset that they know which floor they want to get off on, and don't want anyone to push the buttons for them, they should be fairly certain which direction they need to go, and be prepared to watch their step, just in case the cabin doesn't line up right with the floor.

"Going up?"

Why, yes. Up sounds good.

Thanks for reading.


1 comment:

Henning said...


Tell your elevator friend that the most popular floor is the ground floor.

And if anyone asks him how he likes his job, tell him he can say, "Eh, it has its ups and downs."