Yesterday I approached the desk at the medical clinic near our home and…”Oh, oh, I forgot my mask”, I said to the young lady there.
No problem, she handed me one. Now at that clinic we’re asked to press our health card against the glass barrier so the receptionist can see it. I did.
“Sir, that’s your credit card”, said she with a big smile. (Well, they’re both blue, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.) Slightly embarrassed I made some silly joke, flashed the right card and turned to go.
But now the lady, still smiling, said, “Uhh, sir…you have your mask on upside down.” Rats!
“Well,” said I, trying to chuckle as I reversed the mask, “guess I’d better sit down before I make another dumb mistake.”
“Oh that’s nothing,” she replied, “I make plenty of mistakes every day.” She was lying of course, but I loved her for it.
Now that’s an absolutely true story, no exaggeration whatsoever. And why, you may be wondering, do I tell you this? Well, here is my reason: A person with all the amazing top qualities, talents and virtues that I have needs to show a few shortcomings. Otherwise his friends and relatives will feel intimidated in the presence of so superior an individual. (And if you believe that I have some oceanfront property near Rosthern I’d like to show you.)
No, the truth is that incident at the clinic shows two problematic traits of mine.
The first is forgetfulness. Often my friends reveal to me that they fear losing their memory as they age. I have no such fear. You can’t lose what you’ve never had.
Oh, I can remember quite a number of things as long as they’re useless. (Want to know the capital of Romania?) Or if they happened 70 years ago. Most people in their 70s or 80s, of course, will tell you their long term memories come easier than those in the short term.
My other shortcoming in this regard is distracted concentration. As I pulled that card from my wallet or put that mask on my mind was likely on something else--perhaps trying to remember some words to a song I’m learning. Once decades ago I was late for work. I knew I had brought some socks from the bedroom before breakfast and now I was frantically trying to find them, opening every drawer, checking every shelf, everywhere I could think of, frustrated and angry. My wife, instead of helping me began laughing uproariously and asking me why I thought their might be socks in the refrigerator. She couldn’t help telling everyone we knew about that one. That trait has caused me many problems--some much more serious--in my life.
Now I would never compare myself as a writer to the enormously successful Pierre Burton. (Remember him in Front Page Challenge?) But often at social gatherings someone would ask Pierre’s wife why he was standing quietly by himself paying little attention to what was going on. “Oh that’s just Pierre”, she said, “he’s likely just writing a column in his head.” When Esther heard of that she remarked that that was just the kind of thing I would do.
Indeed many of my columns and songs were written as I herded a tractor around a field, split wood for our campfire., hiked a bush trail with our dogs, drove the highways or found myself in a crowd somewhere.
This makes me either a creative person or a klutz. Maybe both? You decide.