The Elizabethtown College Library is one of the most discouraging places I know. Yet I go there often to cheer myself up. As I sit and look out the windows on what will some day become my Alma Mater, I revel in accelerating despair and gleefully drink despondency's deep chalice. I go home singing.
Can you imaging anything as bad as being a statistic? I often marvel that I wasn't hit by lightning, didn't die from secondhand smoke, was not fatally squashed by a car, dissected by aliens from the tenth dimension, or dashed in the brains by some unseen assailant. The horse I passed on the way to work wasn't so lucky. I'll never figure out how I knew from a hundred-fifty yards away that the sagging lump on the side of the road was a body, but I couldn't doubt its deadness. The empty head (the brain was splashed all over the road, you see) sagged its mouth in a stupid grin at me. I called the township and told them. So had hundreds of others.
The little girl I passed on my way to work probably wanted to be a different kind of statistic than she was the day I passed by. I saw a glimpse of her blood-stained mother grasp her daughter close to her torn body as she screamed from pain. Tractor trailer trucks and their passengers statistically get hurt a lot less than the passengers of the economy car they crumple to pieces. I looked, I cried, I went to work, I put my shoulder to the corporate machine, and I went home a statistic.
Am I doomed to be an extra to this world's vast play? Am I fated to a numeric count? One of seventeen hundred students at Elizabethtown College. One of eighty honors students. The only dual English/ Comp Sci major who plays in the Wind Ensemble. One of millions who thinks he can write and wastes his time trying to gain the passing fancy of his fellow humans long enough to keep from starving. Or perhaps one of the thousands of fools who spend their life at their job, keeping other people's communications running by maintaining the computer and Internet systems. Another person making money so I can give it to people who make money to give it to other people who make money to give it to yet others. Or maybe even one of the rare few who likes his job of taking advantage of people who take advantage of those that take advantage of me.