Lemme outta here!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Lemme outta here!

That’s not me speaking, despite how I sounded in my last post. That’s James, who is in a room down the hall from me. James a shortish man who may, in fact be younger than I am. In his day, he was a respected professional. He still dresses like an LL Bean poster boy—navy blue down vest, jeans, crew neck shirt, deck shoes. He seems to get around fairly well, too—sometimes he uses his walker, and sometimes I hear his shuffling steps as he paces unaided down the hallway past my door.

My room is the last room in the hallway, the one right before the exit door to the outside—which is why James keeps coming to this end of the building. He thinks nobody can see him when he gets to the alcove where the outside door is, and if makes it to this safe harbor he can make it outside. Of course he can’t, but that doesn’t stop him from trying, over and over again:

Beep beep beep beep beep….crash.

“Damn.”

‘James! James! Where are you going, buddy?”

“Home. I need to go home for a couple of days.”

“James. I keep telling you, that door doesn’t work. Come on back to your room now.”

“I need to get some clean clothes.”

“No, James, you just put on clean clothes this morning. Come on back to your room and I’ll show you all the clean laundry in your wardrobe. Come on, now.”

And away they go, back down the hallway, James and the nurse. She’s always patient with him, always kind. And James is pretty docile, when caught and redirected back to his room. The problem is, he’s stubborn and when the wanderlust hits him, I know he’ll be back past my door, trying the same thing over again, and always with the same results.

I’m sure James was a good lawyer in his day, before the stroke. He’s smart like a fox, and persistent. He doesn’t take no for an answer, either—within a few moments he’ll be back, doggedly trying to guess the combination, or even weasel it out of someone he thinks should know it:

“This combination is five-five-five-five-five, right?”

“Sorry sir, I don’t know the combination.”

“Well, would you try it? It doesn’t seem to work for me.”

James is an obvious lesson for all of us, of course. It’s the old proverb, “if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” Yes, he gets an ‘A’ in Persistence. But he’s not doing so well in the ‘creative problem solving’ department….which is probably a good thing. It’s cold out there, James, and snowy, and a pretty long walk home.

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