You and I are fellow readers. We see words and we read them. It
happens without deliberation; it has become our condition, our
This morning, I sat in a small room and performed one of my daily
functions, a function one of my patients termed his ‘constitutional’.
And while in that small room, I read. I didn’t go there to read, but
there was reading matter.
These are the items I saw, the texts of evacuation:
CAUTION: CONTAINS ASBESTOS (3 items)
PLEASE PLACE SANITARY ITEMS IN THE RECEPTACLE ON YOUR RIGHT
NOW YOU HAVE TIME ON YOUR HANDS, DO YOU KNOW WHAT ELSE IS ON THEM?
ADVANCED LIFE SUPPORT (4 items, once advanced, now outdated)
THREE SIMPLE QUESTIONS THAT COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE
Q.1 – are you over 18 years of age?
Q.2 – have you ever had sex?
Q.3 – is it more than 2 years since you had a Pap test?
I read all of these documents and gave them due thought. In
particular, I answered the (highly personal) questionnaire above. I
was candid: I answered ‘yes’ to all three questions. The notice went
on to advise me:
If you said yes to all these questions, you should have a Pap smear
This left me even more thoughtful.
It has been truly said that the job isn’t done until the paperwork is
done. The paper in question was single ply, paper that the experienced
operator applies with caution. Single ply is inadequate. In a hospital
– which is where I found myself during this morning’s Constitution
Hour – it is negligent. And clearly inconsistent with the rhetorical
question that asked what else is on your hands?
The tissue at hand is the norm in all hospitals, all public buildings,
all aircraft toilets in Economy. This is a grave matter to which a
character in my forthcoming novel gives full attention. This
character, a doctor, is exquistely lavatorial in his fixations which
are the pivot upon which the novel turns.
I am contemplating printing in this blog an excerpt of the chapter in
which we first meet the Doc. But that is a decision for another day.
Back to the small reading room of this morning. The first thing I did
as I entered the room was to switch on the light. An automatic act and
a needless one.
I am an experienced practitioner of two of the various functions of
that room: the seated one requires no illumination. (The paperwork
does, of course, but that is the Closing Ceremony.) So why switch on
the light upon entry?
The answer? So I can read!
If the doomsayers say right, if the soothsayers say sooth, if the
climate scientists really know, there will come an End Time when the
electric world will go dark.
How will we read? What will we do in the End Time, when we come to do
what must be done?
Postscript: Duly cautioned, (thrice cautioned in fact), and mindful of
Joshua at Jericho, I exercised all care not to perform any percussive
acts that might bring down the walls of asbestos upon me. But the
asbestos threat is everywhere about us. Food for more thought on the
part of the thinkers who read this blog…