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Light at the End of the Tunnel

Myrna Lou Goldbaum, Columnist

short story as taken from my Palm Reading Journal from 1956. This is a true story, only names have been changed for confidentiality.

While a student in high school I worked part time at the Dayton Daily News in Dayton Ohio. The switchboard operator was a man named “D” who was paralyzed from the waist down. He called my station in Classified every day that I was scheduled to work to say “Greetings”. I had never seen him; he was simply a voice in my headset every day. One morning after his usual greeting a second frantic call came through my switchboard.

“Can you come to the reception lobby ASAP?” he requested.

Checking the clock, I noticed it was fifteen minutes until break time. It bothered me hearing "D's" voice because he sounded strained, strange. I asked my supervisor if I could possibly take an early break that day. She told me not to make a habit of asking for favors, but she allowed me to go right then.

Running down four flights of stairs to the lobby, breathlessly, I called out, “Where are you “D”?”

He replied, “Over here!” His voice low, muffled, as if hidden by furniture. Peering over the high marble counter top, I discovered him bunched up on the floor in a messy heap; his heavy wheelchair overturned, against his backside.

“What happened?” I questioned.

“Don’t ask me such dumb questions. What the hell do you think happened! I fell out of the stupid wheelchair you nut! Get this hunk of steel off of me! I couldn’t think of anybody else around the plant to call. I knew you wouldn’t spill the beans about my mishap. I realize we’ve never met in person, but I talk to you every time you’re scheduled to work and I consider you a friend.”

Dashing behind the customer counter I righted the heavy wheelchair. Mentally I noted the problem was in getting him off the floor myself and onto his chair, seated properly. He weighed well over 200 pounds and was as helpless as a newborn baby.

“D” sighed, “I promoted myself into this job with the understanding I’d be able to navigate the tight area back here, handle all the paperwork, the public and the main switchboard. If Human Resources learn of this incident I’ll be history around the news plant. I hate being crippled!”

“Let’s assess the damage,” I said gently. “Are you hurt? Is anything broken?”

“Only my pride,” he replied, glumly.

I checked “D”, looking for broken bones as he lay on the cold marble floor, then slid the chair back and forth to make sure it was stable, making certain it wouldn’t tip over again.

“I’m as strong as a horse, but I’ll never be able to lift you onto that chair alone. Who can we call on the Q.T. to aid in your rescue?”

He instructed me to go to Composing and find Joe M. I was to contact him without letting anyone know what I was asking him to do. “D” was uncomfortable, humiliated and I recognized he needed help quickly. I agreed to search out Joe M. and left him sprawled on the floor. He was anticipating a swift return by both of us.

Composing was on the main floor. I found Joe M.’s desk and whispered “D” ’s plight to him. We rushed back to the reception area. Together, we lifted "D's" bulky body onto his chair, his bottom securely situated on the padded wheelchair seat.

Smiling weakly, “D” whispered, “Thanks you guys, I owe you. I won’t forget your kindness today.”

Joe M. returned to Composing and I walked around the counter preparing to return to Classified from my overly long break.

“Myrna, can you come by at lunch time? I need a palm reading,” he laughed thinly. “I want to learn if I’m self-sufficient, able to take care of business. I don’t want anymore episodes like today.”

I promised I would return at noon. I ran up four flights of stairs, slid back into my station, put my headset on and acted as if nothing unusual had happened. At noon “D” was genuinely happy to see me.

“Hey friend,” he grinned, “What’s the haps?”

Smiling, I answered, “Let me see your palm. You acknowledge you’re handicapped, your health is excellent and you take very good care of your upper body. You most likely work out.”

“I work out my upper torso daily. It’s the bottom half that’s useless. There are times I just wish I wasn’t on this planet,” he confessed.

“The lines on your palm are strong, unbroken, showing you are stable and trustworthy. You earn your own way depending on no one. You’re a good citizen and a gentle spirit with a lot of compassion. You have a sparkling personality too. Why cry over spilled milk? You can never reverse the physical situation you find yourself saddled in, acceptance is the only way to go. It looks like you don’t give your physical problems much thought most of the time.”

He agreed he was having a bad day. “I’m a little down in the dumps, flipping out of the wheelchair unnerved me.”

“Don’t dwell on this one incident. Your whole future is in front of you.”

“Do I even have a future?” he questioned.

“Lose the attitude. Think of yourself as a sharp individual with a perfectly good mind. You can go anywhere and be anything you want to be, even soar like an eagle. There is a light at the end of your tunnel.”


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