What Could Possibly Go Wrong? Part 2

While in medicine I had always been plagued by a sense of life passing me by. My friends from college were in the Peace Corps or teaching English in the highlands of Peru. I saw others out there agitating for social justice, while I picked away at the rubbery sinews of my cadaver, and played yes-man to whomever happened to be one notch above me in the rigid hierarchy. I decided I would join what I saw as a young army of committed people determined to change the world.

I found an organization in San Francisco that sounded just my speed: The Action Coalition for Global Change. I couldn’t quite piece together what they actually did, but it sounded lofty. And San Francisco seemed a promised land of progressive action. I called the director and she agreed to meet with me when we got to California. It was all working out.

I arrived early for my interview. I paced outside, checking my watch every twenty seconds or so. When the time was right (leaving an extra two minutes in case of the unexpected) I entered the building. The ceilings were high, the corridors wide, the wood dark and good. It felt like an old courthouse and a bit like Cook County hospital. I found the office with the coalition director’s name on it. The door was open and the room was empty. I looked at my watch. I was exactly on time. Gazing across the hall, I noticed another room with a meeting obviously in progress. Ok, so she’s in a meeting. They’re planning the reparation of the globe. These things take time.
I slipped past the meeting room to find an inconspicuous waiting spot down the corridor. I stood next to a partially opened door and heard voices within. Peering through, I caught a piece of a sign: some sort of academy. Impressive set of offices up here, I thought.

We were living in a cardboard and stucco apartment at the ass-end of Berkeley below a simpering divorcé who banged on the floor if we conversed at even normal speaking decibels. On our first night in the new place, there was a knock on the door. Standing before me in a plaid nightshirt and trim beard, looking for all the world like he was about to announce that the British were coming, was our upstairs neighbor. “I hope that you will not continue to make those strange noises,” he said, smiling. Mystified, I insisted that he must have been hearing another apartment. But, time revealed that those strange noises were indeed ours; the utterances of a nice youngish couple at a volume comfortably in the normal speaking range.

No matter. We had love, a bit of savings, sixteen years of higher education between us, we baked our own bread, and I had one big toe on a new path.

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Published in: on November 27, 2006 at 8:29 am  Leave a Comment  

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