Who reads them, anymore? Defined as an ancillary or corollary piece of information beyond that which is stated in the body of the main text, the footnote represents that which reflects an addendum and not something that is considered “required reading”, but more likely for the benefit of those who enjoy quixotic minutiae and esoteric details of irrelevant import.* As referenced in history, one who is relegated to the afterthought failed to reach the first order of things, and their lack of relevance is reflected by banishment to the bottom of the page.
Before computers were invented, long before the notion of “cut and paste” defined the laziness of intellectual prowess, the writer had to engage in prescient forethought, and calculate by measured deliberation the space to leave, the length of the footnote, and whether there was enough white-out left in the crusted bottle to make up for any lack of proper preparation.
The pretentiousness of the pseudo-intellectual, of course, was to have footnotes of greater length than the body of the text itself, spanning multiple pages so that the reader would become confused as to what constituted relevance in contrast to signification of purpose, where some pages barely had a sentence with but a horizontal mark demarcating the onerous esoterica of erudite irrelevancy. And the worst, of course, is when a teacher or professor would ask a test question based upon one; for, again, the common refrain was twofold: Who reads them? Were we required to read them? And the scoffing retort from the test-giver — that god amongst gods who held grades, fate and future plans in the palm of a single hand: If it was in the assigned material, it was “required reading”.
Much later, of course, we came to realize that “it was really good for us to read them” (though we never really believed such inane confessions), or to our own children, “When I was your age, and computers weren’t yet invented…” (with but a reactive facial expression beyond capacity to translate). In the end (literally and figuratively), we all realize that the footnote itself represents mere distractions upon an otherwise ordered pagination of an author’s meanderings, and for ourselves, that they reflect a metaphor of who we are.
Most of us are treated as mere footnotes, left unnoticed, disregarded except for occasional reference by accident or happenstance. For the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who has come to a point in his or her career, where a medical condition has progressed to a deteriorating consensus of requiring an alternative plan of action, being treated as a footnote within a subtext of irrelevancy amongst a sea of bureaucratic inefficiency, is likely a feeling of growing concern.
As footnotes are deliberately disregarded, so the majority of people are like those masses of addendum relegated to unnoticed details of sub-citizenship.
Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management will often elevate one’s status and stature for a time, if only because the Agency or U.S. Postal Service is suddenly forced to read the footnote, and take notice of the subtext; but beyond that, it is the medical condition itself which relegates the Federal or Postal employee to that numbering at the bottom of the page and left to irrelevancy, precisely because you are not one of the “productive” ones.
How does one force the “outside world” to “read” you?
In the end, there is life beyond a career with the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service, and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is merely a first step in getting beyond being relegated to a mere footnote.
As with those generals who served alongside Eisenhower, Grant, Lee and forgotten Roman centurions, most of us are mere footnotes, and glad of it for the unnoticed joys we can embrace in the anonymity of our privacy, and for the Federal or Postal worker who wants to get beyond the notoriety accompanying that unwanted attention for merely having a medical condition — and thus temporarily assigned to the body of the “main text” for being a nuisance — preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with OPM is often the first step towards asserting one’s rights to getting back to the footnote of time and timelessness, where most of us want to remain, in the cocoon of irrelevancy and historical afterthoughts.
*Footnote 1: Just to make sure; otherwise, refer to page 3,275 herein, where you will be required to obtain a special password and key in order to access a pseudo-intellectual forum of erudition within an ivory tower of confounding thoughts, for further reference to important commentaries otherwise pretentiously inserted in order to appear intelligently cogent.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire