What do we fear most, in life? Is it to become maimed; to die a horrible death; to be left homeless, without family and bankrupt? Or, is the greater and more realistic one, that of being relegated to irrelevance?
Of what does it gain a person to attain the pinnacle of wealth, power and prosperity, if the rest of the world scoffs, laughs and rejects with a dismissive nod barely acknowledging one’s existence or appearance? Is it not that which we strive throughout our lives – not of accomplishing projects as a positive force of constructive advancement, but of eluding becoming a cliché? “Oh, he’s not worth the time to even…” Is that not the most fearsome of statements to mistakenly overhear from a friend or colleague whose opinion we value and cherish?
Imagine sitting in a café on a weekend (or, in this country, it would likely be a Starbucks or some similar venue), and you are partially hidden or obscured by a pillar-post, quietly enjoying your latte or some other foreign-sounding drink that is essentially a cauldron of admixtures involving sugar and this-or-that extract; the door opens and the brief chill of the outside atmosphere is allowed in; an order is given, and the voice emitted and uttered is a familiar one.
You turn around and recognize the familiar face, and begin to stand up to say hello, but think better of it because of an unknown companion accompanying the person, whom you neither know nor have any reason for suspicion of intent or motive, but because of the pause, that moment of comfort in giving salutations has passed, and now you try and hide behind the pillar for no good reason, except that you are steeped in the embarrassment of needing to hide, not even knowing why.
They sit out of sight, just around the corner from the post that guards your presence; you consider getting up, walking towards the entrance, and replay a scene you have already rehearsed in your own mind: “Oh, Dave! How are you? Didn’t see you come in!” Then, to quickly rush out so that the query about the companion would not be necessary to address. Instead, you sit cowering behind the protective obstruction of this magnificent pillar, the stalwart of obstacles allowing for anonymity.
The conversation courses onward; tones undulating farther, closer, with clarity, with unmitigated boldness; and a sense that there is, indeed, something secretive in the subtleties of the spoken words. Then, the pathway turns upon the familiarity of one’s own name, and the shuddering declaration from one whom you thought you respected, felt that you knew and considered to be a close confidante: “Oh, he’s not worth wasting the time of day upon.” Those many years of eluding becoming a cliché, swatted away like the irritant of a gnat or unwelcomed fly.
For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition requires 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, isn’t the reluctance to file often propelled by that silly wish to avoid becoming that dismissed person of insignificance?
In the end, what does one care whether others consider you a cliché? For, it is never the opinion of relevance or significance as declared by others that matter; in the end, such declarations merely reflect the inner smallness of those who fail to consider the uniqueness of those so easily dismissed.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire