The vernal equinox snuck up on me this year, and I learned that it can also be what those in medieval Europe used to call a “dismal day.” The sun was out and the temperature was unseasonably warm, but beginning with breakfast and all the way until bed-time, things just didn’t go according to plan. My mother had been admitted to the hospital, and I live some 600 miles away. When I called to see how she was doing, I spoke with a bureaucratic nurse who could neither “confirm or deny” that she was even there. I wasn’t aware that my mother had connections with the military, government, or covert operations. When I said I was just looking for my mother I got read the riot act including—this is the truth—having the Hippocratic Oath cited at me. I think, in all honesty, it might be spelled Hypocritic. Don’t get me wrong—I think it is important to protect people’s rights, and I sure the duty sergeant—excuse me, nurse, was only worried about lawyers and lawsuits. We have constructed a country so insidious that a boy can’t talk to his own mother. Eventually she put my call through to the patient’s ward where one of the patients answered the phone and went to find my mother for me. We call it civilization.
I’m not the most technical of guys. Think about it—I majored in very dead languages. When my wife surprised me with an iPhone for Christmas, my brother-in-law kindly agreed to get in on the surprise and took care of the details. We went into the Verizon store after the holiday and switched the phone (with the phone number I’ve had for years) into my name. Nearly four months later, when I tried to change some plan details, both he and I had to call Verizon several times to get the mess straightened out. One of the communications giants seems to have made itself so technical that it can no longer understand a simple request. When the Verizon representative asked if I understood the user agreement I said yes. Have you ever read one? No one without a law degree could possibly understand. Even Moses didn’t have a cell phone. I had to spend an entire evening getting my own phone back under my own name. Our society has taken what should have been a two-minute phone-call and made a mini-series of it.
So, is it because the vernal equinox is so early this year that my world went haywire for a day? We live in a society where it is nearly impossible to prove you are who you say you are. And children are not allowed to speak to their own mother. Lawyers have taken the law meant to shield us and made a bludgeon of it. Communications experts obfuscate. It may seem random, but these two phenomena have the very same evil as their root. They are twin trunks springing from greed. The nurse can’t put me through because a lawyer may sue. My phone number can be reassigned to my name, with added costs, approved by lawyers that only corporate giants can afford. Human need has been reduced to terms of cash. The trees are budding. The air is warmer. Flowers are in bloom. But it certainly doesn’t feel like spring to me. That chill you feel is cold, hard cash. We are all just spare change.