A New Job

Posted by Doug White under Weekly Writing Challenge

This blog entry is in response to this Daily Post prompt: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_writing_challenge/thats-absurd/

Abraham woke up early, eager to begin his day. He had been anticipating this day for the last several weeks! He was sure that today was the day where his life really began to change for the better.

Grinning, he flung the covers off and leaped out of bed, startling his cat Jack from a deep slumber. The cat hissed in annoyance before leaping off the bed and out of the bedroom.

“Sorry, kitty, but I don’t want to be late!” he told the grumpy feline with a laugh before heading into the bathroom to get ready.

Today was his first day at PP4 and he couldn’t wait to start. He had grown up hearing about the organization and how influential they were across the country. He could hardly believe his good fortune in landing this job!

He had met with a recruiter from the company towards the end of his final semester in college. He remembered the meeting because it had been, well, rather strange. His major was in Public Relations but she seemed to be mostly interested in knowledge of the current political events in the country. He actually thought that he had failed at his chance to work for PP4 because he really didn’t know much about what was going on in the political world currently.

However, this seemed to please her as she nodded approvingly whenever he failed to answer a question about current events. “It’s ok, Mr. Jefferson. This is to be expected of someone your age.” she reassured him.

He stepped out of the bathtub, dried off and walked over to the sink to shave. He was careful not to cut himself. It wouldn’t do to have little pieces of toilet paper stuck to his neck to stop the bleeding from a careless shave!

“Especially before starting my job as a …” he said to himself before trailing off. He never did find out what they were planning on having him do at PP4!

“That’s kind of odd? How could I forget to ask that?” he wondered, “Ah well, I guess it doesn’t matter. I’d work in the mail room just to get into this place!”

He finished getting ready and headed into the kitchen. He pulled out a can of cat food and instantly Jack was by his side looking at him expectantly.

“Ha! You are so predictable!” he laughed. He put the food into Jack’s bowl and without so much as a glance of gratitude, Jack turned away from Abraham and started eating. He smiled, shook his head and got his own breakfast to eat.

He was just finishing up the dishes when he heard a knock on the door. Curious, he walked over and slowly opened the door, only to find him facing two somber looking men. Each was wearing a dark suit and tie with equally dark, tinted glasses.

“Yes? Can I help you?” he asked the two.

“Mr Jefferson? Abraham Jefferson?”

“Yes, that’s me.”

“PP4 has sent us to pick you up, Mr. President.”

“President? Of what?” Abraham asked.

“The country, sir. Now if you would come with us, we can be on our way.”

This blog entry is in response to this Daily Post prompt: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/overload-alert/

Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.” — Gertrude Stein

Mel stopped abruptly by my desk, slightly out of breath and excitedly asked me, “Dude! Did you hear what happened?”

Inwardly, I groaned. I knew what was coming. “No, what’s going on?”

Senator Somhemmer! You haven’t heard? It’s everywhere! Twitter, Facebook, it’s even on LinkedIn!”

Well, don’t keep me in suspense, Mel! What is it?”

Mel’s face flushed with excitement as he prepared to tell me the story. “The Senator was at a college party the other night and was heard talking about planning to overtake the White House! He wants to start a revolution and throw the President out on his ear!”

I paused, momentarily trying to digest those words and make some sort of sense of them. “Mel. Slow down. That’s ridiculous! Let’s set the revolution part of the story aside for a moment. He was at a college party? A U.S. Senator? Does this even make sense to you?”

The chair to my right slowly turned around presenting Liam, one of my co-workers, who piped in, “Doug, it may sound weird, but it’s completely true.”

Really, Liam? How so?”

Liam turned back to his computer for a moment and brought up his Instagram account. “Check this out, my friend. I follow Renate Sadlow from the Daily Progressive on Instagram and she has pictures of the Senator at the college dorm from the same day!”

See, Doug! It’s all true!” Mel’s voice squeaked a bit as he pointed towards Liam’s computer screen.

Guys. Look at that picture. See the window he’s standing by? Does it look like it is dark to you? How many parties have you gone to in the middle of the afternoon? Where are all the other students? He standing on a stage, giving a speech, not planning a revolt at some frat party!”

My two co-workers just smirked at each other and turned back to me. Liam, as if he was talking to a young child, continued, “Doug, you really need to pay more attention to what’s going on in the world. There’s no way Renate Sadlow would have a picture on her Instagram account unless it was legitimate.”

I started to respond when Mel interrupted, “Plus, there’s more!”

Do tell, Mel.”

Mel walked over to Liam’s computer, “Mind if I check something, Liam?” Liam gave an affirmative nod and moved out of Mel’s way. Mel logged on to Twitter and brought up his account.

Check this out, Doug. I follow @Politics101 who follows @I_Hate_Libs who follows @ProgressivesRUs who follows @SSIntern! @SSIntern, Doug! @SSIntern!”

Am I supposed to know who that is?”

Mel rolled his eyes. “S.S.? Don’t you think that means ‘Senator Somhemmer’? As in the intern of Senator Somhemmer?”

Mel, even if that’s who that is, so what?”

Dude! She’s got a link to a recording of the night of the party!”

I sighed, knowing I couldn’t win. “Ok, let’s hear it.”

Mel bent over and clicked the link. A garbled recording began. There were several voices, each one seemingly intent on being louder than the other. Towards the end of record, a voice could be heard screaming, “We must fight! For the right! To pa…” and then the recording stops.

Mel and Liam looked at me expectantly. “Guys, I don’t get it.” I told them simply.

It was Liam’s turn to roll his eyes. “Didn’t that sound like the Senator?”

Dude, I don’t know. It didn’t sound like anybody to me. It sounded like someone singing the lyrics to an old Beastie Boys song.”

I could tell the two were getting annoyed. Mel tried one more time, “Doug, I have one more thing I can show you.”

I can hardly wait.”

He ignored me and opened up his Pinterest page. There on the right side was a t-shirt with the picture of the Senator that Liam had showed me earlier. Underneath was the caption: “We must Fight!”

See Doug? It’s right there, in black and white, on Pinterest!” Liam exclaimed.

Well, if it’s on Pinterest, it must be true, I guess.” With that, I walked away, leaving the two to ponder the wisdom of those words.

Extraordinarily Ordinary

Posted by Doug White under Personal

I enjoy being around kids. Not always of course, they can be trying at times, but generally speaking I like spending time with them. My own daughters have been one of the best things that have ever happened in my life. I’ve loved watching them grow up and even though the teenage years have had their share of turmoil, I am not looking forward to the day where they each walk out that door on whatever path God puts them on.

Between my wife’s family and mine, I have eleven nieces and nephews, ranging in age from five to twenty-three, each of them unique and brimming with their own personalities. I have different relationships with each of them, but I care for them all very deeply.

I try very hard not to have a “favorite”. I love each of these kids and any time I spend with any of them is very special to me. But, I’m human and I have to admit, I do have one that I just seem to have a closer relationship to than the others. It’s my nephew Kyle.

I know that many will think that they know why I have a closer relationship with Kyle after the next four words. Kyle has Down’s Syndrome. “Well, of course, he’s your favorite, he’s handicapped.” you might think. And you may be right. Regardless, he and I are pretty close and I hope we always will be.

Kyle has been on my mind a lot in the last few weeks, specifically because the subject of Down’s Syndrome became a focus of a controversy recently. Richard Dawkins, scientist and author of a book disgustingly titled, “The God Delusion” came under fire for telling a woman – via Twitter – that the moral thing to do if she found out she was pregnant with a baby that had Down’s would be to abort it.

After being the receiver of quite a bit of understandable anger from people after this happened, he tried to justify his comments by arguing that he was talking about a fetus and not a person who is alive. Which even if I bought the argument that a fetus is not a person – and I don’t – his argument misses the point entirely.

Taking his argument at face value – if the “moral” thing to do is to abort a Down’s Syndrome baby, then the “immoral” thing to do is to allow it to be born. This indicates that he believes that all woman who don’t abort their Down’s Syndrome babies are by his definition, immoral. This isn’t just twisted logic, it’s flat out evil.

I remember when Kyle was born, in the spring of 2000. He was the second grand-kid on my side of the family, my oldest daughter being the first. My wife, daughter and I lived in Marshall, Minnesota at the time and drove to Lincoln, Nebraska so we could see this new baby that entered into our lives.

I remember going to my sister and her husband’s house that weekend and spending time holding Kyle and doing the traditional “oohing” and “aahing” everyone does over a newborn. Then, they sat us down, with my Mother, and shared the news. Kyle had Down’s Syndrome. I remember being in shock as I heard my brother-in-laws voice break. I’d never seen him that emotional before.

That night, I went to bed sad. I was sad for my sister. I was sad for her husband. But most of all, I was sad for Kyle. I had worked with mentally handicapped adults while in college. I saw the struggles they went through. I laid on my pillow and wondered what kind of life Kyle was going to have.

Not long after Kyle was born, he had to undergo heart surgery. Down’s Syndrome kids tend to have some issues with their hearts and Kyle was no exception. Fortunately, he pulled through that surgery very well and to this date, has not had any further serious health issues.

As the years went by, we’d come to Lincoln regularly and I quickly stopped worrying about what kind of life Kyle was going to have and started marveling at what a fantastic nephew I had. Incredibly outgoing, loving and so full of energy, he never stopped making me smile when I saw him. It’s an ongoing joke in the family, that although it’s been said that Down’s Syndrome people are very laid back and relaxed, that someone forgot to tell Kyle this! He is as energetic and playful as any of the other kids in the family.

Kyle is a very athletic young man. He’s played soccer, baseball and basketball and has held his own with kids very close to his age. He’s played in his school band for years and this year is a part of their marching band. He struggles to speak coherently, but he can read and write and academically is doing very well in school.

Kyle is not perfect. Having Down’s has not made Kyle faultless. He is at heart, a very typical boy. A perfect example happened recently. He took a picture of his sister, got onto his mother’s Facebook account and posted it, saying, “This is a picture of my stupid sister”. I bring this up, not to indicate that I think he did something awesome. I bring it up because it was sort of obnoxious, and if I would have had Facebook as a young boy, I probably would have done the exact same thing at some point. Because kids are wonderful and they can also be wonderfully obnoxious. Kyle is no exception to this. (For the record, his sister is far from stupid. But that’s a story for another day.)

I love this kid and although I don’t see him near often enough, I enjoy every minute I do with him. After the Richard Dawkins story, I had a strong urge to go visit my family in Lincoln and I hoped to get some quality time with Kyle. His brother was celebrating his birthday and wanted to go see a football movie. I’m not a big sports fan but I like movies so I went with them, their parents and another nephew of mine. Kyle sat next to me and I watched him, watching the movie. Which probably seems silly. But I watched him as the movie showed something he liked and how he would smile and silently clap. He got more out of that movie than anyone else in that theater. I’m sure of it.

Kyle is never going to be President. He’s not going to be super famous or become a neurosurgeon or something equally significant. However, neither am I. Kyle is going to be ordinary. Just like pretty much every one else I know and care about. This is not only ok, it’s absolutely wonderful. I hope I get to spend a lot of years watching him be ordinary. This would make me very happy. Kyle’s existence was not an “immoral” choice. It was the most moral thing that could have ever been done.