18 March 2006

Unplanned Obsolescence


Justice Putnam

Roland Harris was raised to do everything; build a house, design a bridge, write a poem, cook a meal. He had competed in the Decathlon while a grad student in Physics. He was of the first generation of men who assisted in the birth of their children. He farmed and repaired the equipment. He taught History and coached Track and Field. He had traveled the world and spoke several languages.

So it came as quite a shock when Roland Harris awoke from a coma and realized no one believed he had any qualifications.

"Your skills are obsolete," the HMO-assigned Vocational Therapist told him.

Roland Harris had spent two months with the HMO-assigned Physical Therapist before this first meeting with the HMO-assigned Vocational Therapist.

"But I’ve only been in a coma for the last five years," Roland Harris argued, "after all that physical rehab, I’m strong as an ox. I grew up on a ranch, I could dig a ditch if I had to."

"No," the HMO-assigned Vocational Therapist replied hesitantly, "with the gap in your employment history, you couldn’t get a job even as a ditch-digger."

"But I’ve designed and built bridges," Roland Harris pointed out.

"Same problem," was the response, "you’re competing with folks who have five more years experience than you, and I must say, are much younger."

"Wait a second!" Roland Harris insisted, "I’m not even Forty-five years old, I’ve worked at a variety of jobs since I was sixteen. I have degrees in Physics and also the Humanities. I’ve owned and managed a couple of small businesses. I can type 70 words a minute. I’m licensed to operate heavy equipment."

"Actually, your Class "C" license and your PUC Permit were revoked for notorious and constant non-use," the HMO-assigned Vocational Therapist said sadly.

Roland Harris fell silent and pondered his predicament. With all his skills and his intelligence, he always figured he’d be able to adapt to anything and succeed.

"How about if I wrote fiction based on my adventures," Roland Harris said matter-of-factly, "there must be some money and interest in that."

The HMO-assigned Vocational Therapist chuckled and shook her head, "A lot has happened since you went into your coma. No one reads fiction. People are only interested in Reality-based entertainment. Of course, if you were a celebrity or even better, a recovered drug addict celebrity, you could write your memoir; maybe even a best seller publishing your poems. I don’t mean to offend you, but no one knows who you are, so there will be no interest."

Roland Harris looked at the clock and saw his time was up. He rose and headed out the HMO-assigned Vocational Therapist’s office. Turning, he made one last point,

"I’m quite disappointed, I have a long record of accomplishment."

"Yes, yes you do," The HMO-assigned Vocational Therapist said as she crossed the room to close the door, "but what has always been of importance in our society is, what have you done lately?"

© 2006 by Justice Putnam
and Mechanisches-Strophe Verlagswesen

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