Sunday, September 11, 2005

# Posted 11:59 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

IN JUST A FEW MINUTES, IT WILL NO LONGER BE SEPTEMBER 11TH. Four years on, I don't feel that I have much to offer that can truly give meaning to the defining tragedy of our decade and perhaps of our lifetimes. All I can offer is a reminder of just how hard it is to remember to be grateful for what we have instead of wishing for what we don't.

This morning, while bringing my bed over to my new apartment, I put a small dent in the side of the cargo van I was driving. In most instances, this wouldn't matter because of my insurance. But when I called up my insurance company to tell them what happened, they read me back some fine print of which I wasn't aware and which indicated that I was entitled to coverage for rental cars but not for rental vans.

Coming at the end of a two-week period in which I totaled my car and was assaulted by a stranger, this was the last thing I needed to happen to me. I no longer have a graduate stipend to live on and still don't have a job, so I'm short on funds and therefore find myself asking my parents for much more help than I'd prefer.

When I returned the van to the rental office, I tried to make myself sound sympathetic. The young woman who listened to my plea was remarkably helpful. Sensing my distress, she let slide the two gallons of gas that I had forgotten to put back in the tank. Then, while she was filling out some paperwork, a colleague of hers asked if she had called her family. She said she hadn't, since you can't get through "down there".

A minute later, I asked her if her family had been affected by Katrina. They had, and by the worst of it. She grew up and they live in Bay St. Louis, MI, half way between Biloxi and New Orleans. And some of her family didn't even have flood insurance. And to top that off, her mother is the head nurse (or administrator, I can't remember which) at an emergency room in a hospital hit by the storm.

And to think I was worried about my dent.

Now that isn't a story about September 11th, but the lesson is the same. Until directly confronted by a tragedy of epic proportions, it is extraordinarily hard to place one's own situation in perspective. I can't say that I'm glad that I had to learn that lesson again today, but it's better than nothing.
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