Short stories provide a slice of life; novels, a genre which attempts to provide a picture of a greater whole, and when it falls short, will often be an opportunity to manifest a trilogy of works. But fiction never quite captures the essence of entirety, and we are left with the part, a necessary void, and a missing piece of the puzzle.
Every narrative of a life is merely a portion; the microcosm rarely captures the significance of the whole. And, indeed, there are large chunks of human living which need not be repetitively revealed, as they are presumed to occur during the lapses and jumps of time: That the character in the story (or insert: television show, movie, novella, etc.) has gone to the bathroom multiple times during the day; has eaten more than in the restaurant scene and traveled in some kind of a transport vehicle in order to reach a given destination, etc.
At the dawn of movies, it was a common question for the audience to ask, “How did he get there all of a sudden?” Real life was still being projected upon the new screen of depicted stories, and the loss of continuity assumed that the audience would make certain jumps of logical conclusions; time, acquiescence and acceptance of convention would yet take some getting used to, and the slice of life revealed often mistook the viewer for the wholeness of true living experienced by all.
Thus do we accept, in watching a play, the convention of a character declaring an aside but where the rest of the stage does not hear; in real life, such declarative innuendoes would result in a slap in the face. But that is precisely the problem with people, isn’t it? We all accept and assume, and presume that the slice of life is representative of the whole, and thereby typify and stereotype the individual, beyond mere first impressions.
The Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition and therefore is unable to accomplish all that needs to be done, is now the nuisance and the “lazy one” who puts the burden upon everyone else, without considering the long history of dedication and service, or the turmoil and devastation wrought upon the greater whole of his or her life. That Federal or Postal employee is merely known for the slice of today, and rarely appreciated for the whole of yore; for, it is easier to condemn with the tongue of today, than to take the time necessary to understand the contributory trails of yesteryear.
Thus are we left with little choice but to prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset. And the dusting trails of memories left behind? Let such clouds of regret and remorse remain within the slice of a former life be, and enter instead into the panoramic view of a true whole, where the next stage of life is beyond the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, and the combination of slices and wholes can once again be put together for the Federal or Postal employee who must regroup for a better tomorrow.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire