It is the grammatical interjection or discourse marker; in either usage, it is in response to some new or surprising information received. Thus do we often encounter that individual (we all know of at least one) who, sitting silently, idly and unnoticed throughout, suddenly perks up after all (or most) of the work has been done – whether in preparation of a meal; cleaning up after the dinner party; or where the main elements of a project have just been completed. And the uninvited interjection: “Oh, can I help?”
There may even be a hint of clever knowingness in the eyes emanating from that query – of a challenge and defiance, to dare one to question the sincerity of the offer, even when the history of that singular uniqueness has many times over manifested a consistency of never having acted upon the discourse marker.
Yet, we are required to graciously accept it as sincere, and to respond with resignation that, No, there is nothing more to do, but Thank You for the offer, anyway. For, we all know that the test of sincerity is not words upon words, but rather, that individual who, without uttering a single word, gets up and acts, and engages, participates, contributes and embraces with nary a muttering. It is the pause between the utterance and the action that makes all of the difference, in common discourse as well as in everyday lives.
There are many, many people who interject with the “Oh, can I help?” but fewer still who act without words unnecessary and unappreciated because of humility in silence.
It is that chasm between word and act, utterance and initiation, a cocoon existence in the silence of one’s thoughts and the breach of entrance into the objective world around – or, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management: the gap between the suffering silence of a medical condition and taking that step in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, which can be an administrative process that can take many months, and sometimes years.
It is well and good for the individual who consistently utilizes the discourse marker to avoid entanglement in undesirable projects, but when it begins to harm one’s own interests, then it is time to not merely utter a sentence, but to prevail upon the world and act upon the need.
For the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who, because of a medical condition which prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, can no longer continue in the career or vocation of choice, the grammatical interjection of, “Oh, can I help?” should immediately be followed with initiating the steps necessary to secure one’s Federal Disability Retirement application, by making inquiries with a lawyer who has experience in Federal Disability Retirement law.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire