July 31, 2020

My Day Off

A short story by Ismail Kazem, MD, FACR, FASTRO

It was my day off. My schedule had been hectic for some weeks, and I was in need of a short break to recharge my batteries. I had made all necessary preparations the day before. I arranged for professional coverage. I addressed all potential problems. I made sure I had no meeting commitments or appointments of any sort. I had a flexible plan for how I would spend the day to avoid disappointment. If it were clear and sunny, I would go to the shore. If rainy and miserable, I would go to a show or concert.

It was a beautiful, sunny morning, and I thought it was a perfect day to laze and bask at the shore. As I was about to leave, the phone rang. I hesitated for a second but decided to answer the call. The person on the line informed me that a conference call was scheduled at 10am for an ad-hoc committee to discuss a matter of urgency. It was 9am.

My drive to the shore would take an hour and a half, at least. There was no use transferring the call to the shore location as I would still be on the road at 10am. I thought waiting an hour for the conference call would not really matter (I should have known better).

At 10:30, the phone rang. I was informed that the call would be delayed until 11:30, because the committee chair couldn’t make it earlier. At 1pm, I was notified of a further delay until 2:30. Hours of my ‘laze and bask’ time were wasted waiting for the conference call of an ad-hoc committee to discuss a matter of urgency!

Finally at 4:45pm, all members of the ad-hoc committee were online for the conference call. The matter of urgency was discussed with the chairman who summoned the conference. He wanted advice but had insufficient information about the issue at hand. After ten minutes of unanswered questions raised by the participants, in exasperation I moved to reschedule the meeting in order to acquire adequate information and allow time to study the issue. My move was promptly seconded and unanimously accepted.

It was 5pm when I put down the receiver. I felt exhausted by the wasted time and the lost chance to relax at the shore. It was too late to salvage the evening with a worthwhile show or concert. Disappointed, I looked out the window searching for a distraction. I noticed the untidy grass of our lawn. I rushed to change into the appropriate attire and went down to the garage.

I pulled out my lawn mower, checked it and turned it on. Hope for a relaxing evening once again lit up my face as I set out to cut the grass!