Lost Perspective

compass

Lifestyle

In working with people who spend the night on the streets or in a shelter and depend on food stamps and vouchers, it is easy to lose perspective. In fact, I may be writing from a lost perspective now.

I am in a world in which cigarettes hold more value than milk and employment is menial and miserable.  The kids are frequently reported for bruises and bed bugs.  There are no healthy relationships, it’s use or be used.  A survival of not the fittest, but the most street smart, the most savage and aware of the systems from which they must either decide to manipulate or leave for the unknown.

Those who stay breed the next generation who are certain to take up their parents’ torch.

It’s a dark realm, almost like an alternate reality that is better kept a secret, in the underground, or for movie settings from which an impoverished savant is able to rise from dregs of society to that of the rich and famous.

Only in that case, the fictional or the legendary-once- in a lifetime situation, is it an interesting place and the desperation is palatable for the rest of the world, knowing that there is a light to shine from the darkness, a ray of hope for those who have nothing other than plastic bag of raggedy clothes and a headful of lice.

The lost perspective.

Scammed

“I just got this in the mail and I won $5000.”

The man who stood in front of me was ecstatic. He wore his usual flannel pajama pants and dirty collared shirt, turned inside out.

“This is for a car dealership and you can’t drive,” I said.

I looked over the flyer more closely; it was addressed to Preferred Customer or Current Resident. The prize could only be claimed during the “event” described as a HUGE VEHICLE SELL-OFF in all capital letters.  The prize winnings were to go towards the purchase of a vehicle which would be a problem since he didn’t have any money for the purchase of bread and milk, let alone a vehicle, and again, he couldn’t drive.

“I already called the number and gave them my confirmation code. I’m definitely a winner they told me.  They are holding my prize downtown.  I just had to give them my address, name, birthdate…”

This was beyond smelling fishy.

df

“You gave them all that information?” I asked in disbelief.

“I’ve never won anything this big before,” he said, ignoring me. “Let’s go pick it up on Monday.”

He handed me the flyer, “You can go research this but I’m keeping the ticket.”

Just like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, he held the ticket tightly in his fist, not about to give up his claim to something magnificent.

Sidewalk Speculations

sidewalk

Two men skillfully maneuvered a brand new cooling unit down a cracked and broken sidewalk. It looked like the kind that would normally pump cold air into a three story house in a neighborhood of similar three story homes, and would sit in its own landscaped portion of the yard, complete with mulch and a creatively shaped bush to distract from the obvious eyesore.
No one stopped to ask where the unit came from or where the men were headed. As a general rule, these are silly details that don’t really matter on this sidewalk, unless you are a cop.
I know exactly where it came from; I watched the pair of men struggle as they wrestled it from the back of an old pick-up truck and onto a dolly. They nearly lost control of it when they lowered it from the bed of the truck to the ground. I envisioned it falling onto the man guiding it down to the dolly, his arms and legs sticking out on either side, in a very Wizard of Oz scene. My next thought was it falling sideways and onto the hood of my car. I cringed at explaining the unlikely story to my husband, already skeptical of most of the dings and nicks on the car.
The men shouted quickly in a foreign tongue, angry at each other and at the monster. Its only defense was in its uncooperative size. If only gravity had its way…
Then of course, I would have nothing to speculate about as the cooling unit was wheeled farther and farther away, well on its way to being scrapped for copper and other semi-precious metals.

Ants

.ants

Ants

Thousands of small, red ants swarmed over a dish turning the white into a vibrating mass of red. Some left the main huddle to seek out more crumbs on their own, while others marched in lines over a newspaper from last week, onto a clear plastic box of dehydrated greenbeans, and around the edge of the table following an invisible path.

I was unsure where to put my paperwork with the table so very occupied. I considered smashing my binder down onto the table crushing the adventurous crew that dared to split from the main gang on the bowl and sweeping the bodies onto the dirty carpet. I could transport the bowl and its many passengers to the sink and rinse the entire thing with scalding hot water.

In a few strategic moves I could exterminate the entire colony.

Nah, I shook my head. Live and let live, I decided, especially when in a client’s home. I left my blood lust in the car with the windows cracked just a bit so it could properly breathe.

A woman sat across from me, watching me through sightless eyes with amusement.

The ants were no bother to her.

I completed the paperwork on my lap and did not mention her visitors.

There was no need.

“A pity beyond all telling is hid at the heart of love.” W.B. Yeats

Strangest Week: Top 5 Reasons

mon 2

Truly, this was the strangest week. Here’s why…
1.Meta-meta-metamucil
In trying to impress my husband with my culinary ability, I baked a squash with butter and cinnamon sugar for dessert. This seems like something that would be healthy and delicious, except for one thing. The cinnamon sugar turned out to be orange flavored Metamucil in an identical and unlabeled container. No one was impressed.
2.Neti no-no
I overhead a co-worker on the phone say, “So you put probiotics in your neti-pot and now you have a sinus infection?” So much for risk taking and alternative medicine.
3.Prison
At a client’s home in the middle of the woods, a dirty looking man with tattoos on his arms sat and had a conversation with himself about escaping from prison. I didn’t stay long and no one minded when I left.
4.Tables
Out of the five home visits of this week, no one had a kitchen table. When I asked for something to put my computer and paperwork on at the first home, the client offered to pull up another chair. This was in a room with chairs, boxes, bags, and trash lining the walls. I feared moving anything would release an avalanche of old soup cans, shoes, plastic furniture and random junk onto my head. My lap sufficed and I didn’t ask again.
5.Problems
Possibly the strangest thing – the realization that problems are never what they seem, especially when they belong to someone else. #not my monkeys, not my circus
mon

Wild Encounter

bear
The doctor looked at the woman and back to his laptop, unsure of his patient.  I’m pretty sure this isn’t just an American thing, he thought and adjusted his glasses. She wore a large fur hat that covered her neck and the sides of her face. Little round ears stuck out from either side of the hat. Dark eyes peered out from within the fur and as she watched the man.

She looked remarkably like a smallish brown bear, sitting with her legs crossed at the ankles. When she pulled her hands from the pocket in the front of her sweatshirt, he silently noticed the brown, furry mittens.

The smallish bear patient giggled when the nurse walked in and stated in a flat voice, “Well that’s cute.”

“Thank you,” she said, flattered. Large, square teeth were exposed as the woman smiled in a contrast of white against brown.

The nurse continued, “Here something else that’s cute,” she paused for dramatic effect and continued in the same monotone voice.

“Your blood sugar levels. I just checked your meter, and they’ve been out of control. Are you taking your insulin?”

The woman pulled the hat off with one hand and held it in her lap; it looked like the decapitated head of wild animal, lifeless and out of place anywhere but her head.

She had no answer as this was not her world.

Healthcare and Honey

med

It’s made up of two basic words, health and care. The word is a prescription in itself for its function in the care of health. Yet, when sitting in on a healthcare meeting today, the only theme that I could draw was the pursuit of money. They discussed reimbursement, incentives, and the bonus structure and barely touched on patient care. By the way, this was a monthly staff meeting, not a finance review.

What happened to doing the right thing for the right reason? Naysayers might respond with something like, the insane cost of med school and malpractice insurance happened, along with the need to live in a house nice enough to keep the wife/husband/life partner and kids/cats/dogs/exotic pets happy, along with the desire to drive a reliable luxury car to keep up the image of being a doc.

Healthcare workers (I’m referring to the specific workers who have an M.D.) are placed in a position of power over the sick and injured, as is any healthy person over the unhealthy. There should be a certain social responsibility to provide the care and treatment needed to restore balance to the patient, regardless of insurance carrier or plan. At what price to the country, community, and to the physician would this cost?

Stratification, statistics, disease, demographics, containment, outcomes and cost are all variables in the healthcare mess with only one element that really matters. If you guessed anything that doesn’t rhyme with honey, than you are likely not reading this post very closely.

In truth, it all comes down to money. Can you pay or can’t you, and yes, there will be a different result based on your answer. Perhaps a return to the barter system could be part of the solution, service for goods, like farm fresh eggs or an old cell phone for an exam. Surgery would cost a bit more, like an agreement to mow the surgeon’s lawn for a year or the gift of the patient’s first born son.

It certainly would be easier if we still needed each other to live instead of just for the accumulation of dollars and cents.

Often, I find myself wondering about the true cost of this value proposition on our souls and on the future.

And all for what?

dead eyes

Dead Eyes,the number cruncher,
Pleads for compliance
In a flat voice
Capable of compelling only those who are his equals into action.

He belongs with individuals of like minds, dull and metallic.

Dead Eyes is in the right field,
Surrounded by the wrong people,
As in people at all.

He is a robot trapped in a human body, deserving of the same amount of compassion as he is able to give.

Let us hope that the eyes are not the windows to the soul, for the sake of dear Dead Eyes, the number cruncher.

Under the Rug

dancers

Have you heard of the idiom to sweep something under the rug?  It usually means to try to hide something embarrassing, like getting into a fender-bender while applying mascara or texting your boss a sexy message meant for your husband.  Things like that are meant to be glossed over and forgotten, banished into the distant past, and swept under the rug.

This weekend I learned the true meaning to the phrase as more than just figurative language.

We had a group of rowdy, rabble-rousing friends over for a few days.  After a night of debauchery, we returned to our small home to wind down when I felt the twinges of a headache/meltdown begin after watching the gang share a bag of Doritos.  Junk food alone does not usually cause this reaction, observing them use their pants and couch instead of napkins to clean their orange fingers does however immediately cause this reaction.

It was then that I excused myself to bed and allowed whatever mischief and bad behavior was left of the night to play out unhindered by the likes of yours truly.

And it did play out.

What I found the next morning was a pile of dirty white socks, Gatorade bottles, half eaten brownies, and two kittens concerned with the ever-changing environment and weekend tenants.  Naturally, the boys were still fast asleep.

Then, I discovered the white plaster chips and flakes on the floor from something that had shattered.  I first thought it was a hole in the wall and prepared for my head to explode.  Thankfully, my head stayed in place as there was not a hole in the wall and my temper subsided.  I looked up to the shelf and found only a ring of dust and bare place where something had once been standing.  As any good detective, I began an interrogation of the suspects who were busy snoring on the Dorrito dusted couches.  They waved me off as the guilty often do.

I started to gather evidence.  First, the white chips and flakes by the door, then an arm, and a head were located under the back of the couch.  While I was low to the ground, I noticed the lump under the rug.  I didn’t have to move the rug to know what it was; they had literally swept the broken statue of dancing lovers under the rug.

So I scooped it out from under the rug and held all of the pieces mournfully in my hands.  The boys tried to make it right later in the day by reassembling the piece into something that they considered modern art.  In retrospect, I should have put man-proofed our home before the gang arrived, removed all fragile knick-knacks and thingamajigs, and felt happy the figurine was the only causality of the weekend.  I’ll try to remember this peaceful gratitude as  I continue to find treasures lost in the couch and swept under the rug for the next few days.

Distractions

At the sound of the approaching voices, Lilly froze in her tiny office. Her body started to shake and quiver. She willed her heart to slow and freeze, like the rest of her, fearful that the thudding would give her presence away.

There was a crowd of co-workers just outside of the room, talking and laughing. She twitched at their unprofessionalism. This is a place of work, she thought with distaste, not a bar or a common coffee house. Her heart hardened against the cacophony that broke the normal harmony of the office.

Then the voices faded and she breathed a sigh of relief. She heard the sound of typing from her office mate. Click, click, click. His pudgy fingers struck the keys of his computer with a clumsy, steady grace. It was a comfort to her, the same clicking and shuffling of papers. No loud noises, just the sounds of working throughout the day.

She stood up, stretched her arms over her head and peeped her head out of her office. Safe, she whispered to herself. Anxiety held her captive, while loneliness slowly killed her. It wasn’t her co-workers she resented, it was the disruption of routine, the interruption from the norm, and their loud voices. On second thought, it was definitely their loud voices that she resented the most.

Lilly’s tightly wound nerves started to relax and her heartbeat returned to normal. It was as though a winter storm had just passed and the blue skies were beginning to return. Birds were chirping again from frozen trees as snow melted onto the white ground. Lilly was refreshed and recharged from her recent scare.

Lilly held onto the edge of the tissue box and pulled herself out. Fresh air filled her lungs and the bright office lights made her squint until her eyes adjusted. She squeaked and scurried over to her office mate who stared straight ahead at his computer screen, still typing the last thing she said to him.

He glanced down at her and asked, “Are you ready, now?”

Lilly squeaked again and ran up his plaid sleeve to rest on his shoulder where she started to whisper the rest of the story.

Previous Older Entries

Blog Stats

  • 6,062 hits