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Positively 4th St: The night of the following day
By Tim Bowden
Aug 10, 2020
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“A dream will inform the day much better than consciousness might answer for its lack.” - A Midsummer Nights Dream

•••••••••••

The Night ...

It's settled; I am to head up the team charged with renewing and revamping the company network. Quite a plum. I selected me for it. 

I must now account for the fact I know absolutely nothing about the care and management of an electronic network and even less of how one works. 

I must seek advice. Crowd sourcing, I believe it's called. 

I go down to the highway, raise my hand to halt traffic. 

An 18-wheeler lumbers towards me. A monstrosity, with separate gigantic units and monster cranes and huge shovels growing out of it like Gorgon parasites. 

I realize I am in the way. The monster is stoppping for me. 

I must apologize for waylaying this prodigious industrial city on wheels. I look about the ship. There are individuals in various wheelhouses and compartments, and none of them will deign to even look at me. 

I continue moving along the side of the dreadnought until I see one who seems to be addressing me. I smile and try and understand him. Yes, yes, hello?

He is a screen. An old movie running with none to watch, and inside an ancient Packard separate from the main unit. 

I glance behind this parade. There is the usual circle of workers in hard hats and reflective vests. They are set about some road work, traffic cones and barriers. They are never in any hurry. Speaking in Italian. 

“A web of diamonds," said one in the current circle, in English now, for my benefit. "Each radiating to and reflected by every other." He looked at me. "That's a Zen Traffic Koan."

I nodded. Networking. This is what I came out here for.  

•••••••••••••

... of the Following Day

He was the Chief of the largest veterans’ benefits operation in the state. He is here appearing in a conference of county veterans service offices from every county and San Francisco. I watch him. I’m very impressed. 

He will ask a question. “What is the date of award of a readjustment for disabilities above 100% post-hospitalization at a VAMC.”

“First of the succeeding month,” someone says. Chief cocks his head like a skeptical parakeet, looks dubious. Waits. Someone guesses some other date, but in the voices raised in response comes a consensus. Chief smiles, nods. Cognition in accordance with its object, is how the philosopher defined truth. First of succeeding month it is, then. 

Except, it isn’t. It occurred to me Chief didn’t know the answer, but he placed his trust in the majority opinion of a knowledgeable audience. 

••••••••••••

A small office in south county, a counselor, not even a Service Officer, answers the phone. Rupert has severe raging diabetes and has a total disability from VA on that account plus several additional benefits due to the severity of his disabilities. He advises he has been discharged from the VA Hospital and understands his full compensation will resume the first of the following month. 

“No,” says the counselor. “Date of discharge plus one day.”

The counselor is a reader. He places his faith in text; that’s his network. In his small office there is room to read, and much to be read: Title 38, 38 CFR , and daily DVBulletins, one paragraph of one of which specified that the Budget Reconciliation Act, which took a month’s compensation from those who had borne the battle and their dependents, did not apply to Service-Connected Para 29 adjustments of the sort we have been discussing. 

“That’s six hundred dollars,” said an appreciative Rupert. 

•••••••••••

If 4th St could talk, this is what it might say. 

“Every hoofbeat don’t mean zebra.”