"Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself. I am vast. I contain multitudes." -Walt Whitman

:malicious user:

Saturday, February 21, 2004

in the company of men, part 2

he is a father, a husband, and, for many decades now, a software developer. it is my job to ensure that the software he and his coworkers create is developed using adequate methods, and is the appropriate product for the customer (did we make the right thing in the right way?). his methods are organized, well documented, and dignified. of his entire team, his processes most closely follow industry quality standards. you can tell he's been doing this for a while.

he's dying.

surrounded by cutting edge technology in a company that develops some truly wonderous drugs, his body is slowly being consumed by a relentless enemy. the disease has taken pieces of him already, has hidden quietly just long enough to let hope take root, only to attack again. he works as often as he can, arriving before anyone else, when the quiet office makes it easier to concentrate through the constant ache. he laughs bitterly at the mention of oxycontin addicts - the drug does nothing to abate his pain.

and bizarrely, i've watched him become the target of a warped discrimination. since he has made his situation known, some people treat him as if his condition were contageous. he has become leper outcast unclean. he is reprimanded disproportionately for small errors; he is a scapegoat.

he weathers the storms outside and within with a tired sigh and a slow shaking head. then he pushes on. i would have cursed the world by now and surrendered, defeated, and gone down in a pathetic cloud of bravado. but this ex-greaser, ex-hotrodder pushes on like a spartan.

this afternoon, at closing time, he was down on his knees in the parking lot changing a flat tire on his car. as he cranked the jack, i offered my assistance. he politely declined, even as he drew short of breath, turning the black handle around in the chilling air. i repeated my offer, reaching for the jack handle. the deflated man with the deflated tire stopped, and he half-smiled, half-grimaced.

and he very quietly said, "i have to do this."

i nodded. i gave a wave as i rose. i couldn't think of any other reply. i couldn't put it into words then, and i can't now, but i understood what he meant. he had no choice. he had to.

i left the man to his battleground.
Comments: Post a Comment

i used to be disgusted. now i try to be amused.
This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Hosted by LunaNiña