William Metcalfe, 7/29/2019

Current Occupation: Having retired from profitable work, I am playing about with either writing or photography.

Former Occupation: There were 40 years of picture framing. My company was one of the first in Washington, DC, to push for preservation as a very important aspect of a framing job.

Contact Information: After 30 years of aimless travel, I settled down in Washington, DC. after I found I enjoyed working as a picture framer. In the years of travel and of working with customers, I have accumulated a large collection of stories, which exist as short notes. For a period, I was also, by acclamation, a interesting photographer, but a move to a near suburb, a wonderful wife and our 3 children took more and more time. I had to curtail my pursuits. Now that I am retired and my children are adults, I have returned to earlier interests. The iMac which sits on my desk offers itself as a means of rendering a legible copy of a story from the dusty corridors of my mind. It also offers itself as a instructor in converting digital snapshots into something much more meaningful, might I say art. One can only hope.




In my past, I have often said funny things without thinking, which is not courage, but stupidity. In the early 60s, I lost a great job in the US Army by replying to a serious request with a joke. There were three of us assigned to putting out a 4-page newsletter for our outfit. The four pages were assembled from military stuff sent to us from on high. The work, if one did not stop for lunch, would be finished before lunch on Tuesday. That is if it arrived on Monday. During the rest of the week, we goofed off. Our office was in a separate building and no one ever entered it other than the three of us. One of my co-workers had in civilian life been an escort for dowagers who enjoyed interminable operas. He also was a member of a religion whose Sabbath followed the tradition of beginning at sundown on Friday nights and continued until sundown on the following day. With this help from his faith, he managed a weekly three day weekend, which he spent in downtown Seattle.


One day, our phone rang. I was alone and, until that moment I hadn't even known that we had a phone. I picked it up with the full confidence of a frequent user of such devices. The company's Sergeant Major was on the line. He asked if I would be willing to give blood. To draw a laugh, I asked if I would get a day off. After the Sergeant Major reached the end of his litany of obscenities, he hung up.


I lost my chance to volunteer then, but a few days later I did.


Two of us reported to the local hospital to donate our pristine, clear blood. I smoked then but I assumed that the smoke exhausted from my lips was equal to that which was prevailed over my home city’s streets. The kind nurse directed us to lie upon a gurneys. Then she displayed the bags which we would fill with our life fluid. After a small prick with a needle, we watched a red fluid slowly flowing into the clear bags. My friend and I lay there, relaxing as though we were at the beach.


Then, from a speaker in an upper corner of the room, an authoritarian voice commanded all to drop everything they were doing and hurry to the emergency room. A horrific accident had resulted in a strain on the hospital's staff. Our nurse promised she would soon return. Her wave of farewell had seemed innocuous, until we saw that the blood bags were nearly full. Neither of us could answer the other's question: what would happen when the bags were full.


As my blood was nearer to the top of the bulging bag, I saw that I would soon have the answer to our query. As in a soap opera, the nurse suddenly appeared, though without entry music, and casually unhooked us. She thanked us and directed our tottering footsteps to a table in an adjoining room where we would find coffee and donuts.


2 weeks after this, I received my orders that I was being sent to Anchorage, Alaska. Probably, the Sergeant Major considered this was the most inhospitable place on earth where I could be sent legally.


For the next two years, I had such a wonderful time in Anchorage, that I should have sent him a postcard whose face said, "Wish you were here". On the back, I would tell him how great life was in Anchorage and then I would fill him in on all the neat things I was doing.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


4 + eight =