The 1956 version of the film (the only one worth watching) was in black & white, and created a sensation among French Existentialists for the greatest horror committed upon a human being: to strip one of all human emotion, and transform the person into a robotic automaton of sorts.
Camus’ novel, The Stranger, reveals a similar theme through the titular character, Meursault, where the absurdity of life, the indifference of humanity, all serve to compel him to commit a murder without reason or rationale, in a universe without emotion — until the very end when, faced with the certainty of the guillotine, he responds with rage at a chaplain who wants him to atone for his sins.
Life itself can be the slow drip-drip-drip of stripping one of emotions, somewhat like spores which fall and turn into seed pods, and slowly attaches, drains, and diminishes the uniqueness of the individual; or like the greater absurdity of performing apparently meaningless tasks, where a sense of separateness and division occurs as a chasm between worth and work, as when Sisyphus rolls the boulder up the hill, only to see it slither back down the other side.
Medical conditions sometimes awaken us from the slumber of absurdity. It is in and of itself an anomaly of sorts, to have to face the mortality and fragility of one’s life, thereby unraveling thoughts of worthiness in a world devoid of care, empathy or concern.
Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, for the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker, is a step taken to climb out of that chasm or void of dissipating meaningfulness. For, when a medical condition begins to impact one’s capacity and ability to continue bringing meaning and purposefulness to a job, within a context of an agency which shows indifference and outright animosity, it is time to escape the alien pods and devise an escape route from the invasion of the body snatchers.
It is like Sartre’s quip that Hell “is other people” — of that moment when a person looks through a keyhole and views another as a mere object, then senses someone else behind, and realizes that you were being watched watching others as an object, only to be considered as an object as well. Similarly, when a Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service begins to treat the Federal or Postal employee as a fungible object of nominal worth, it is time to seek and monetize one’s worth at another location, another context, a different venue.
Medical conditions demean and diminish in multiple ways: one’s own consciousness recognizes the devaluation of being “less than whole”; others begin to approach and treat with trepidation; and Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service fail to accommodate according to the laws already in place.
Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a means to an end. The “means” requires an affirmative step by the Federal or Postal employee to traverse from the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service by beginning the preparation and formulation for filing of an OPM Disability Retirement application; the “exit” is the concerted effort to run afar from those spores from heaven, as the body snatchers who drain life and vitality through the keyhole of sanity where absurdity and meaning clash in a titanic battle for human worth.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire