The ellipses that follows is from the Ancient Greek that denotes “omission” or “that something which follows which is left blank”, and allows for wandering thoughts and meandering reflections to complete the lack. What is the range of an acceptable addendum? Does it matter what the prefatory statement allows for, and does the logic of its completion depend upon the spectrum of grammatical technicalities that confine and maintain boundaries of meaningful discourse?
For example, what if a person was asked to complete the incomplete sentence, and the response is: “I would rather [red, blue, pink and all of the flowers in the universe].” Would we say to the person, “Wait a minute, I asked you to complete the thought and you have provided me with gibberish.”? And he/she comes back with: “That’s how I would finish the sentence, because that’s how I feel.” Would that be allowable? Or, should the rules of grammar confine and restrict, so that the formality of completion should reflect a coherence that is expected and anticipated, such as, “I would rather [be at the beach than going into work today]”?
In the insular universe of private thoughts, of course, we can add whatever fanciful thoughts that infringe upon the uncertainty of our subconscious minds; but when the breach between private/public dichotomy occurs, suddenly we are thrown into an arena that restricts and confines, and compels us to follow the rules of conversational efficiency, including grammatical rules, traditional sense of coherence, logical consistency and meaningful conceptual constructs. Exiting the arena of private thoughts right into the concentric complexities of the public world alters the rules of engagement.
For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact, prevent and block the Federal or Postal employee from performing all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, the critical point of departure — from breaching that dichotomy between the insular world of the “private” and stepping over into the “public” — begins when first there is an admission that a “problem” exists.
Preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted ultimately to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is likened to completing the fanciful thought that begins with, “I would rather…”. The replacement of the ellipses can have many forms, restricted and delimited by grammatical constrictions and restrictive contexts, but no Federal or Postal employee who begins the process ends such a sentence with, “I would rather … [be on disability retirement than be healthy and continue to remain in my chosen career].
Those who believe that there is a scintilla of coherence or meaningfulness in such a sentence do not know Federal and Postal employees. Instead, it is a choice resulting from limited options, but sometime the best one available, as filing for an OPM Disability Retirement may be the only alternative where other such contingencies have already been exhausted.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire