“Counseling.”


This is interesting.

About thirty minutes ago, I headed across town for my weekly counseling session. Counseling? Yeah, that. Mental illness? Nope; just counseling. We public school teachers, both active and retired, commonly sign up for it. The District is heavily endowed with the monies to support session therapy. Kinda like workman’s comp. It’s a built-in insurance policy of its own, shrewd design.

And, yeah. A couple weeks before Christmas, I was depressed. Come to find out, there had been an ongoing, low level carbon monoxide leak emanating from the flue leading out of my water heater. I couldn’t explain the increasing morning migraines, the congestion, the relative stupor. In fact, I’d secured my first session with this guy about a week prior to the CO discovery (and, subsequent repair to correct it.)

Now, the winter in the northeast, as everybody knows, has been brutal. Yes; I’d cancelled a couple sessions since on account of prohibitive driving conditions. But, always with a phone call, appropriately placed the day or evening beforehand. As a working professional, I am mindful of the protocol for scheduling, keeping, and canceling appointments. We musicians know that a no-show is the equivalent of staring at a stranger’s name occupying your seat in the cello section. For, like, forever.

In keeping with such responsibilities, I had told this counselor weeks ago that I would not be present on March 3rd. March 3rd was an all-day concert event for local students, presented by the orchestra in which I perform regularly. So, I would have to miss that week’s session.

Today, after a private, full episode viewing of The Bachelor Season Finale – I’d missed it due to an evening rehearsal – I was feeling a bit fragile. Vulnerable. Transparent. It’s dumb enough, this fascination with reality television that has captured the imagination of the single, middle aged female. Less comforting is the realization that I, the aforementioned “working professional” with a resume the size of a city block (okay; a small town block), had been sucked in by it, once again. So, it might be enough to say that I was looking forward to hashing this out with the counselor. You know, why do we do it? Why do we feel like old silly biddies when it’s all over? Which “schema” plays out when we turn on the tube?

I drove to the appointment, mentally reviewing the music on my docket for the week and reflecting upon the behavioral dynamics at rehearsal. Upon entering his office, I opened with, just to be sure: “You remembered that I wouldn’t be here last week, yes?”

He said: “no.”  I asked if he didn’t have it on his schedule, that I remembered sitting in the office telling him about it, well enough in advance. He said it was not on his schedule. Then, he said he tried to call me, but wasn’t sure when he called that he had even reached me.

Turns out he had the last two numbers of my cell phone inverted, reversed. He’d called the wrong number.

No matter that he’d given me a phone number to use for cancellations, that I’d put it into my cell phone addressbook, and that my number had reached his phone each time I’d called him to cancel due to the weather. There’s a little thing called “All Calls”……but, not for him, I guess.

Then, he said he’d tried to find me in the phone book.

Lean in.

Kids, I’m a towny. I live in a small city that time forgot. Most of the families in this corner of the commonwealth have been here for generations. Most of the people here think a vacation is a day trip to Pittsburgh or a big plane ride to Disneyworld. Oh; and, Vegas. Me? Fairly well traveled since, I nevertheless lived with my parents until the bold move to find an apartment at the ripening age of 25. And, that phone number, assigned to me the year I secured that apartment, has been mine for thirty.three.years.

Thirty.three.years.

Oh; and, the phone book? Yeah. Most single women know better than to publish their landline anymore. But, not this old girl. Nope. Every random survey ever designed to poll the Latino population (I’m Italian) has reached my ringer. Every start-up charity organization. Every sweepstakes giveaway time share in the Caribbean. You got it. Call me, baby. That number has been a published number for (everybody sing):  Thirty.three.years.

Now, truth makes the strangest fiction. Everybody knows that what can happen often does. But, this counselor claimed that he could not find me in the phone book, and I’ve been there. For a generation.

I asked him to spell my last name. He shifted his papers. I asked him again. He said he knew how to spell my name. Then, and this, for readers unfamiliar with the climax of a story, is the moment: he said that he’d scheduled somebody else for my time slot today.

I stood up. I declared that this was my timeslot. This was unbelievable. I told him that my phone number had been in the phone book for thirty five years. We exaggerate when we’re righteously indignant. Thirty three, thirty five, mehh. He asked me if I could come in tomorrow morning at ten. I said no. I said that this was my timeslot. He said he’d see if the other “patient” had cancelled. He shifted more papers.

But, I was on my feet. I pulled the conversation out to the hallway. I asked him again. DID he look me up in the phonebook, or not? He said that we would not be talking about that right now. I stared at him in disbelief. And, then he said it. He said what so many good employees of a system, designed by God knows whom to suck more money by the hour than a Shop Vac at a chemical spill, say to reveal just exactly why they majored in psychology and got a master’s in “counseling”. He said: “WILL you be coming back next week?”

There was a girl on this season of The Bachelor, one of the eligible young women. Everybody who watched the show will always remember Kelsey. She was the one who played up her “tragic story” to the tune of a panic attack on the floor of the bathroom the night of a rose ceremony, on full camera. She was the one who managed to alienate just about every other girl in the house. There’s always one, and she was it. Oh, and guess what she does for a living? Yep. She’s a “guidance counselor.”

I don’t know if I’ll be returning for counseling next week. It all depends, I guess, on how I feel. I do know that I’ve spent a lifetime working really hard. Playing cello is not easy, especially for one of tiny frame and small hands. Making music at a high level is both a challenge and a working responsibility. Meantime, the best therapy I know about is the medium right before me. As long as my fingers can find the keys, my loves, I am here right now. If you are reading me on purpose, I’m humbled; if you found this piece by happenstance, well, sorry to be so glum. But, thanks for listening.

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How much do I owe ya?

Never mind. I think I know.  ❤

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© Ruth Ann Scanzillo 3/10/15 all rights, sort of. You can share this one. Just include my name. And, if you would, note the spelling? Thanks. littlebarefeetblog.com .

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3 thoughts on ““Counseling.”

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