Hemingway wouldn't put up with this
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A Day in March
by Martin Green 




Neither my wife Sally nor I had slept well. This was not uncommon as many, if not most, senior citizens suffer from insomnia. Sally took a prescription sleep aid and I took something called Valerian root. They didn’t work all the time. In this case, one reason was that we were expecting a phone call; again, like many senior citizens, test results from our health provider. Sally had gone for a mammogram a month ago, usually a routine procedure, but this time they’d seen some suspicious spots  so had done a biopsy. Biopsy results were usually available in a week or less. But Sally’s were so unclear that we were still waiting.


After we’d started our day with the usual pill-taking, we had our breakfasts, cereal with lots of fruit, which we’d been told were good for us, and I took the daily newspaper puzzle and my coffee to my spot on our patio, enclosed. Sally and I lived in a retirement community just outside Sacramento, the capital of California. Outside, it was a gloomy March day, typical of the weather in the Sacramento Valley at that time. I was engrossed in the puzzle when the phone rung. No, it wasn’t about the test results. It was one of those nuisance calls, annoying enough at any time but even more so when expecting, or hoping to get, an important call.


After finishing my coffee, and the puzzle, I got dressed and went to my computer. I wrote two columns, “Favorite Restaurants” and “Observations” for the monthly paper that went to everyone in our community. I was working on “Favorite Restaurants” when suddenly the screen changed and showed a message that my computer had spyware or malware or something like that in it and I should call Windows at a certain number or disaster would ensue. I suspected that this was another one of those many scams involving computers where the scammers were on a “fisching” expedition to get your personal information. I tried X’ng out the screen but it remained stubbornly there. I certainly wasn’t going to call the number given; instead, I called a friend who was knowledgeable about computers. I got his voice mail and left a message. Well, I couldn’t go any further with my column so I did some reading until lunch, still hoping we’d get that call about Sally’s biopsy results.


After lunch, Sally and I discussed the situation and agreed that if we heard nothing today we’d call first thing in the morning. Around two, the phone rang. It wasn’t our health provider; it was my computer knowledgeable friend. I explained my situation and he told me to try hitting control/alt/delete. I did and the threatening message disappeared.  I was able to finish my “Favorute Restaurants” column. I now had to think of some things to write for my “Observations” column. One thing was that computer scam. It was scary that some scammer could take over your computer just like that. Then there were the scam phone calls, like the IRS supposedly calling and telling you to send money or go to jail or somebody saying he was your grandson telling you he was in jail and to send money right away. It was as if you were under siege with crooks coming at you from all sides. Maybe I could do an entire column on this. I’d include porch thieves and mailbox break-ins.


It was around three so I turned on the TV news. This did nothing to brighten up a gloomy day. On the international front, the President and the nutty dictator of North Korea were trading insults and the pundits were all but predicting that World War III was on the way. Domestically, the Democrats, or the Resistance, as they styled themselves, were still opposing everything the Republicans did and hoping that they could impeach Trump. The Republicans were so inept they probably couldn’t pass anything even without the Dems’ solid opposition and the Democrats were bankrupt of ideas. And Trump was still tweeting away. The politicians were fond of saying that the American people wanted to know this or deserved to know that. I wondered if most Americans were like myself, sick and tired of the whole Washington circus.


As often happened, I dozed off during the news broadcasts and was awakened by the phone ringing. I heard Sally talking and went into the living room. When I looked at her she nodded and I went to my desk and picked up the phone there. It was the nurse, or medical technician, we’d spoken to before about the biopsy. Did they have the results, finally? No, it turned out she was calling to let us know that the biopsy had been sent to the lab at Stanford University. She assured us the likelihood was that the spots were either benign or a low grade of cancer and so we shouldn’t worry. I asked if she knew when the Stanford lab would have any results. She said it would take about a week and she’d call as soon as she had any information.  She assured us that the spots were either benign of, if not, a low grade of cancer and that we shouldn’t worry too much. Needless to say, that didn’t stop us from worrying. So that was that. Well, at least we wouldn’t have to call the next day.


“I think it’ll turn out to be okay,” I said.


“I’d just like to know,” said Sally.   “Oh, don’t forget. This is garbage day.”


As it happened, I had forgotten. “Already?” I said. “I thought I’d just done it.”


“It’s been a week.”


“Huh! Did Hemingway have to take out the garbage?”


“You may be a writer but you’re not Hemingway.”


I had nothing to say to that.  Taking out the garbage was a weekly routine which, when I was younger, say, in my sixties and seventies, I did without much thought. Now, like other things such as getting dressed and putting on my shoes, it had become an irksome chore. I first took out the kitchen garbage, then our two wastepaper baskets, then I took a break while I gathered up the week’s accumulation of papers, put them in a paper basket, then dumped these into the large trash can.  then a basket of the newspapers and magazines that had accumulated. All of this went into a large trash can, which I then wheeled down to the curb. After all this, I had to sit down and rest. While I rested, I thought, no matter if we were waiting for test results, no matter if my computer was being attacked, no matter if we were on the verge of a nuclear war, no matter what else was going on, you had to take out the garbage. Maybe even Hemingway had had to do it. There was a moral in there somewhere, probably some deep truth about life.   I’d think about that when I was less tired.




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