Sunday, May 10, 2009

A stolen post and a standing ovation.

I fancy myself a writer, but no one would ever consider giving me a job as one cause my schooling wouldn't allow for it, and my grammer must be atrocious. But I love it. And sometimes when I read something someone else wrote that I love I want to talk about it. Typically it is a book, or sometimes an article, but this time it is a blog. Reading it made me want to gather together my writer friends and publish a compilation of all our stories. Eventually we would publish one every year, and the stories would get better and better and it wouldn't be for fame or money, but to share the talent I am surrounded by.

So today I read a post by a friend and I want to share it. It isn't long. It won't take you forever. It's an amazing display of storytelling and in the end it's for a good cause. You can find the author's blog here.

His story in its entirety:

The People I See Around
I'm an impulse person and an impulse buyer. No, I've begun poorly. I can't start with me; this story is not about me.

Chad greeted me when the doors slid open, but I couldn't understood what he said, so I asked him to repeat himself. Well, what I really said was "Whuh?" The graveyard shift must be an endless mind-melt of half-formed conversations. I know I'd tire of it. I'm sure he already has. It's 12:07 in the morning, do you know where your diction is?

His name was Chad, but I only sidelong-learned it at 12:23 after our conversation at the checkout stand went off-script. Protected both by an ego-barrier of self-satisfaction at a celebratory day and an eagerness to be a clever little "personality," a bright spot in a dull night, I asked him if he judged the people who wouldn't cough up a buck for the Breast Cancer Society. I'd already refused, swiped and punched in my secret code. My vitamins, band-aids and greedily grabbed gum are bagged and waiting.

He replied that he didn't judge, but was disappointed. His mom was re-diagnosed two weeks ago.

Man, I feel like a jerk.

It's a deadly flaw in his family genetics, he tells me, but he doesn't say it like that. The word "pancreatic" was never on any vocabulary list at his school, so he curls his fingers as if around a giant tube of disease and draws in across his abdomen. "She had it here, but now it's up here" and his hand at his chest, over his heart. A false salute to an iffy future.

Man, I feel like a jerk.

The annual Race for the Cure is tomorrow - no, today. I know this because a friend was both earnestly and ironically wearing a pink bandana around all day. So I ask him if he's going, telling him I'll be downtown for it. That's a lie. I had no intention of going before I spoke those words, and probably can't fit it in to my hectic, fantastic "I love what I do" schedule. He, at least, is honest. He'll be sleeping because another all night shift begins at 8.

I should have left already, been out the doors and back home to spend another hour clicking through my Tivo playlist while pretending to write. But I'm in deep now as he pulls back his sleeve, revealing in the florescent overhead light a yellowed bump with a rosacead center. It's big, not enormous, but of a size that you know should have been checked out. A soddened tea bag squeezed of its last herb-juice.

"We all get them," he says. "And around thirty they turn to cancer. But I'd rather not know." If you have tough life, it's gonna show, so I'm struggling to pin down his age. His teeth, his face, the slump in his shoulders all say that he's hit that mark, or will soon. So again-

Man, I feel like a jerk.

I want to feel like a samaritan.

"Chad," I begin. I know his name now and I've committed to eye-contact. "You need to have that looked at. It's always better to have the facts so you can make a decision." Keystroke italicized - always.facts.decision. It's my presentational voice, my jedi-mind-tricks inflection. I don't think it's going to work, and I need it to work. Chad needs it to work. But this isn't a galaxy far, far away, so of course it doesn't, and he's already exited the conversation.

"When they find the cure..." he says, handing me my purchases and back in the proper posturing of employee-to-patron relations. "The cure for cancer, I'll get it checked."

That's a lie. We're both liars and one of us might die from it. And it's 2:33 now and I haven't showered and I didn't go back, dig down and give him the dollar or point him toward a free clinic. I left. I'm home. He's still working. And I'm reduced to melodramatic melancholy.

Tomorrow's another big day in my busy, busy, busy life. I'm doing things I believe are important, but now seem much less urgent than they did at two and a half hours ago.


Here's the important part - If you were intrigued or bothered or whatever, click here to donate online to the American Cancer Society in whatever capacity you wish. I gave a few bucks, which I should have done earlier. I hope you can too.

1 comment:

Happy Girl said...

Really good... in a glaring, honest way. thank you for posting and smacking me in the head to THINK.