When Good Help Is Hard to Keep
My entire professional support team abandoned me. I'm trying not to take it personally
All the professionals I usually count on to protect me from the seen and unforeseen consequences of time, life, and reckless living seem lately to have abandoned me to the vagaries of an existence without their comforting presence.
My doctor, lawyer, accountant, shrink, and banker have left me in the lurch, due to retirement, career change, relocation, even a midlife crisis that led one of them to shave his beard, buy a sailboat, and take off for a round the world cruise with his much younger girlfriend. My attorney, tired of unfunny jokes about sharks and other bottom feeders, became a massage therapist. My doctor took the gold watch or whatever they gave him for 40-plus years of dedicated service and went off to a developing African country to continue his good works. My shrink finished putting her kids through college on the money I paid her over the years and sent me a nice note reminding me that, in a pinch, I could always call the crisis hotline.
My car mechanic closed up shop, as the towing company I called to get my suddenly inoperable car out of the express lane told me, in the same conversation in which they informed me that I would have to pay another fee not to just dump it in front of the construction site where the garage used to be. My accountant turned me over to a junior partner who informed me in no uncertain terms that she would no longer accept delivery of a grocery bag full of scribbled receipts and credit card receipts on which I’d claimed a number of chancy (her word, not mine) expense claims. Even my vet disappeared — her office is now a marijuana shop, although at the door they still have a jar full of treats. And my banker, the one who used to put my book reviews in my loan portfolio in lieu of more liquid assets, quit after the latest merger; I see her cheerily scooping ice cream at a West Seattle deli, and she looks a little plumper but much happier.
What will I do without a doctor who knows that when I show up at his office in early June with unspecified complaints I can’t accurately describe but don’t fit the depression questionnaire that I’m suffering from Black Anniversary because both my parents passed away around that time years ago? Or who frowns on sleeping pills but occasionally writes me a script for Restoril when I’m in the final stages of finishing a book, but can’t get it out of my head at night long enough to fall asleep?
And speaking of books, was it a nice thing that my agent told me she was weeding out her client list, and since I haven’t published anything since her agency merged with a bigger one, I probably should look for a new one? And what will I do without my long-time accountant, who wrote off my life on my taxes, especially the fun parts like trips to exotic places and dinners and theater tickets with editors and agents, and always asked to see them described in print just in case they needed justification? How will I manage without my shrink, whom I haven’t seen in years but whose very image, conjured up in difficult times, consoles me while her internalized voice reminds me that I already know everything I need to get through this?
Yes, I know, loss is a part of life, and I don’t begrudge the greener pastures they’ve all, presumably, gone off to. But just like the college freshman who worries that his parents won’t be able to manage without him, that they’ll fall into a slough of sadness because I’m gone, I wonder if they’ll miss me.