14 November 2008

A Friendly Reminder

In a waiting room at a local free medical clinic I fumble through a stack of magazines.  It appears the most popular are those directed at house wives, such as Better Homes and Gardens and Good Housekeeping.  While I appreciate the advice given, typically I find them somewhat of a bore to just sit and read.  I was about to give up when something sparkled beneath the drab blanket of better housekeeping.  The glossy cover was sprinkled with bold, bright pictures of India. I can't for the life of me remember the name of the magazine, but I could not resist its colorful allure.

I nestle back down in my slightly cushioned seat and flip the cover over to the first page.  It's an ad for jewelry draped around the neck of Catherine Zeta Jones. The next page is an article whose contents I cannot recall and another ad.  This time for Porsche.  The next ad was for more jewelry. Then a stunning picture of a Bentley.  

I find myself intrigued and compelled to keep flipping the pages to see ad after ad after ad of things way out of my income tax bracket.  Tom Brady, with his shoeless feet propped up on the arm of a leather seat in his personal NetJet, invites me to purchase one of my very own.  Wow!  Suddenly I feel the urge to leave this free clinic, run down to the NetJet dealership and buy my own personal aircraft. Since that is not a realistic option, I continue browsing.  A few ads later there is one for an airline that offers, not just first class seating, but a bedroom with a five course meal and your very own TV and DVD player.  

I'm dying to share my findings with someone when a poor unsuspecting patient sits down two seats over from me.  Leaning over the arm chair, I hold the magazine up with the picture of the Bentley and say, "Isn't this irony?" She glances at the page and looks at me like I just asked her for a handout.  "That's nice," she says and casually turns in her seat.  Feeling quite awkward I do the same and suppose this conversation is a dead end.

Huh, 'that's nice' she says.  Nice isn't the word that I thought of when I realized that the magazine I was so immersed in was aimed at a demographic so far above my financial class that to them I'm virtually a peasant.  What a cruel joke someone played when they planted that magazine on the rack at the clinic.   Don't take my remarks as complaining.  Long ago I accepted my social status (or should I say lack of) in this world and have been content to remain in the upper to middle lower class.  However, to receive such a reminder of my status while I'm waiting for free healthcare, because I can't afford it anywhere else, is quite frankly disheartening.  

My husband, who hates going to the doctor, rushes out from the back office and mutters, "Let's go." I smile up at him, grab his hand and walk out beside him.  My thoughts trail back to the glamorous images in the magazine.  Each of those things are presented as though they would bring me greater happiness and add meaning to my life.  But a very wise teacher once said that 'even when a person has an abundance his life does not result from the things he possesses'.  And truly neither does happiness.  I suppose then that I should be grateful to whoever left that magazine as a friendly reminder.  I squeeze my husband's hand and he smiles at me. That is happiness. That is life. 

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