Random acts of radio contact
Earlier this week, I went into my boss’s office. “My turn for a pep talk.”
He looked up. “Go, Betsy, Go.”
“That’s it? Really?”
“I have a grindstone at home. I was thinking I could bring it in and just point, and you’d know to put your nose right up there.”
“That sounds swell. Thanks. I guess.”
“What’s going on?”
I wish so much that I could actually write what goes down at my office, because there's more than enough material for a decent blog but, well, it turns out I’m not as rich as everyone believes. (Oh shoot, did I say that out loud?) So let’s talk about something else, shall we?
Let’s pretend I’m a nurse, working at a hospital. I get appointed to serve on a committee to develop suggestions about how we can save more lives. I’m pretty excited about saving lives, being a nurse and all, so I come up with a few ideas, and have a meeting with the head administrator of the hospital to share them. I suggest a few things, like, “hey, I have an idea -- we could try to stop the bleeding right away when a patient arrives. Another thing: we could get all staff get trained in CPR.”
And the hospital administrator says, “Um, I don’t really see how this relates to our work here. Can you explain?”
So I explain, but it really doesn’t seem to sink in, partly because he’s distracted with a gigantic walkie talkie, I’m not kidding, it’s the size of a shoebox, and a voice is coming through, “Do you read me”, over and over, and the hospital administrator doesn’t seem to know what to do.
“There’s going to be a Random Act of Radio Contact this week,” he says. “This might be it,” he says, as if there's some doubt. If this isn’t a random act of radio contact, I don’t know what you'd call it, but I keep my mouth shut.
“All the Big Guys Like Me are supposed to be available by radio in case there’s an emergency,” he explains.. He struggles to respond, but it doesn’t seem like the guy on the other end hears him, because he keeps saying the same thing over and over.
“Does anyone know how to work this?” the administrator asks.
I ponder the use of the impersonal pronoun in this very tiny meeting, but try not to get too hung up on it. I try to pretend we're all on the same team. "If this were an actual emergency," I start to joke, but he doesn't look amused, so I don't finish my sentence.
As he keeps fumbling, I very slowly start to lose heart, like a bicycle tire with a slow leak that you can still ride on, but it’s not as fun, and by the end of the day it’s kind of lifeless. That’s how it seems like it’s going. It seems like by the end of the day, I'll feel sort of lifeless.
We discuss the ideas to save lives for a little bit, and then he says, “I have an idea too! We’ve developed new paperwork that people can do when they get here. They can pay money, and submit another form, and then if they get through that one new extra step, we’ll try to save their life. I think this initiative will be really great.”
The air in the tire is leaking out a little more quickly, and he goes back to fumbling with the walkie-talkie, because the voice on the other end is still reaching out insistently, and our meeting ends.
This didn’t actually happen, because I’m not a nurse, and I don’t work in a hospital. In fact, any resemblance to real people or situations is totally in your imagination.
I explain what actually happened to my boss, and he does that putting his head in his hands thing again, and starts to whimper ever-so-slightly.
“Thanks for the pep talk,” I say. “Bring that grindstone in, would ya? That’ll be something to look forward to!” He looks pretty sorry, and I know he’s used that exact look on his children when they didn’t make the team, or when they first read the Diary of Anne Frank.