Sometimes Something Happens
Sometimes something happens and you just think, isn’t that intriguing?
Something like that happened to me at work. A woman, whom I like, a coworker in the information department, found out she has cancer. I don’t know what kind—breast, colon, skin—just cancer.
She’s in shock. She declares it can’t be true. She says, bad things don’t happen to me. Bad things happen to bad people. She left work early to see her doctor.
In idle moments between changing a financial program to meet an industry requirement and because I like her, I wonder about her reaction to her cancer. Her declaration and her disbelief strike me as an insight into her character. She’s a smart woman, catches on quickly to every new idea. Her attention to details before declaring a program ready for production is admirable and makes for a laudable implementation rate.
On the negative side, she has a sharp tongue and a lack of sympathy for those who struggle with life’s challenges. A coworker of ours has a lush for a husband, making for chaos that sometimes impinges into work hours. Mackenzie cuts her no slack. She refuses to pitch in for Sara when her husband needs to be retrieved from the local bar after a mid-afternoon fight. Mackenzie said, “You should never have married him. Now that you know your mistake, leave him. He’s messing up your life.”
I could cite other examples, but can you just take my word for it? Mackenzie considers the problems other people face the result of poor choices they made. If they made good choices like she had—a solid, dependable spouse with whom she has two obedient boys—everything would be perfect in their life, as it is in Mackenzie’s.
Until now. Until the cancer.
I want to know—will Mackenzie develop an understanding that events beyond one’s control can make one person’s life happy and another’s not?
This idea evolved into the short story, “Too Old to Learn.”
Sculpture image. Public Domain. WikiCommons. Metal statue of a woman thinking, entitled “la Pensadora” by José Luis Fernández in Oviedo, Asturias, Spain, ca. 1968/1976