We don’t seem to have a capacity to share of those things which we have no need, anymore. Does scarcity of resources result in “doubling down” in ways formerly described as miserly in deed? Does the free market principle of supply and demand explain the loss of social grace in responding to need? What ever happened to the spare tire, the jingle of spare change, and the ephemeral absence of spare time? Has society come to a criss-cross of contending forces, where the explosion of population growth, the rise of the middle class in developing nations around the globe, coupled with the exponential depletion of finite resources, have cumulatively coalesced to an incandescent compromise of character crisis? Does the lack of everything mean that we can spare no more for others, or provide assistance in the event of need?
As for the spare tire issue, the fact is that modern technology has extended the wear of tires, and many people have lost the knowledge or skill to use a jack or a lug wrench. This, combined with fear of scams and roadside robberies, in conjunction with the durability of today’s tires, has resulted in the widespread consequence of calls for help defined as a cellphone dial for professional roadside assistance. Further, society has deemed that any caricature of a ‘damsel in distress’ is tainted with a misogynist attitude; and we certainly would never want to be charged with an ‘ism’ at the cost of helping another. And of spare change?
Homelessness has been relegated to either a non-existent phenomenon until a different political tide rolls in, or has otherwise been linguistically redefined as an alternative lifestyle. What remains, then, is our spare time — which we have no more of, despite the constant drumbeat to the contrary that the aggregate of modern technology is always supposed to ‘save us time’. Isn’t that what we are told each time a new gadget is foisted upon us? That it will save time so that we have more time for greater and more important things — like politicians who suddenly leave office or fail to seek another term in order to spend “more time” with family. Right.
The fact is that we are left with very little of anything, anymore, other than to stare vacuously into the fluorescent chambers of computer screens and smartphone apps. Yet, spare time, spare tires and spare change — while apparently mere arbitrary anachronisms of antiquity, alas, fading into the dim light of change itself — reflects a community of sharing now lost as art was once a defined form.
For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, the idea of sparing a person a break, has gone the way of other spare things. Neither the Federal agency nor the U.S. Postal Service has any spare time to spare anything, anymore, and certainly no more than the rest of society can spare.
Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, can be likened to the spare tire in the back of the trunk, which is always there but forgotten but for the time of crisis or need. When the Federal or Postal worker can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties with the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, then preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application to OPM is like getting out that spare tire.
The problem is, as most people have lost the skill to use the ‘other’ implements hidden beside the spare tire — like the jack and the lug wrench — so the proverbial roadside assistance may be required. As for spare change and spare time? Pockets are a requirement for the former, and future fashion will determine the necessity of an antiquated design, as will inflation and online banking for the need of coins or paper money at all; and as for the latter, we are told that we have more of that than ever before; just not enough to spare for others.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire