First off, let me admit that as a lapsed Catholic, I’m far more familiar with guilt than blame. But the circumstances surrounding my lapsing — that I was invited to lapse, versus merely allowing it to happen (a behavior which accounts for most of my other collected venal sins) — grants me a certain license, I think. That license says I get to blame someone, because you gotta blame somebody. And I blame Mick Jagger. I don’t blame him alone, of course. I know for a fact I share plenty — all right, most — of the blame, but you can’t start there. No place to go from there but down. So, at least initially — in the beginning, maybe the most terrifying place for anyone trying to write something, trying to tell a story — you gotta blame somebody, to figure it all out, to ferret out the story. So I blame Mick. If not for him and his buds and a certain record they made, there’s a real good chance I never would have wound up working in a hospital — and mostly disliking that work — for thirty-something years.

Petty, I know, but thirty-something years is still most of my life, at this point, most of the story. So I blame Mick Jagger. It was my first formal job interview, way back at the start of this tale. I’d landed, been fired from, exchanged a handful of other jobs before graduating high school in Syracuse, New York. They were all casual, friend-of-a-friend, support the habits kind of jobs. This was a job I’d chosen, pursued, applied for and scheduled to interview about, at the Onondaga County Community Hospital, for reasons I do not now remember but were viewed at the time as perhaps the most ambitious and responsible behavior I’d exhibited to that point, so that felt pretty good, at least different. But I wasn’t responsible or ambitious. I was still stupid.

I took a friend to the interview. I took Joey Early, a neighborhood friend. It would be years before I learned the trope with which to categorize the karmic oddity that Joey was hardly ever early. I didn’t much care about that then. Joey’s redeeming virtue at the time was that he was almost always holding.

We pulled into the parking lot of OCCH within what I presumed to be a window of acceptability, but there was a song on the radio that we both liked, a lot, even if we weren’t under the influence. So we sat, and listened, even sang along with Mick and the boys all the way to the final strains of “Sympathy for the Devil.”

I’d never before appreciated how long that song goes on though. At twelve minutes, we were well outside the appointment window. The Human Resources professional didn’t offer me anything but advice that fine early 70s afternoon in Syracuse. Show up on time. And don’t bring a posse. No job was forthcoming. So I went back to pumping gas. But I didn’t get a chance to find out something that would have been very useful to know a decade later when I was a little less stupid: how much I’d dislike working in a hospital. And that’s why I blame Mick Jagger.

One thought on “You Gotta Blame Somebody

  1. Ohhhhh…..OK, then. Makes perfect sense! Not a friend of the blame game myself, either, but this is actually quite a noteworthy connection. I get it! Thanks for sharing the story of the beginning of the middle.

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