Used to it

When I first started typing in high school, I used an IBM Selectric and correction fluid which I smeared over mistakes.  It was a mess.  But I was used to it.  Then they invented the correction strips, where I just retyped the wayward letter over the strip and it magically disappeared.  This was such an improvement!  I got used to it.

Then I moved up to a word processor.  I remember the very first day I used one.  I was working in the pathology lab at Methodist Hospital in Memphis, and we had just gotten these newfangled machines delivered.  I volunteered to learn the system first.  They set me up in a little room with a trainer from the company to learn this new way of typing.  I typed my first sentence.  By the second one, I somehow got the cursor in the middle of the sentence, expecting to type over what was on the page.  Immediately I sensed something was wrong.  I turned to the trainer.  "The new letters aren't typing over and replacing the old letters," I said.  "They're adding themselves into the middle and moving the others forward."  He laughed and said, "That's what they're supposed to do!"  What kind of weird system was that?  But I got used to it and learned to enjoy it.  Fast forward to 16 years ago when I started my medical transcription career.  We had a transcription system with a word expander program, where we could actually make shortcuts and type a few letters and the words expanded!  Wow!  It was a clunker, though, and had many drawbacks.  All the transcriptionists shared a database and if one made a change for what typing "cr" would expand to, then all the MTs would be affected.  (That would be a shock if you always used "cr" to expand to "creatinine" and unbeknownst to you, an MT changed it to expand to "cardiopulmonary resuscitation.")  We were also limited to how many of these shortcuts we could enter into the database.  We reached the limit quickly, so every time we wanted to add a new one, we had to come to an agreement on which one to delete.  But the whole system was an improvement on what I used to have, so I gladly got used to it.

Then a few years ago when, after years of this outmoded system, we got a new Windows-based platform and I discovered Instant Text, the creme de la creme of word expander software.  I was in heaven.  The features were extraordinary.  It couldn't get any better.  I got used to it.  Then they improved it, and immediately I wondered how I was ever satisfied with the older version.  This new version is unbelievable!  I am so used to it - used to its perfect design, its comfort on my hands, its intuitiveness, and its production capabilities.  Now I take it for granted that I can transcribe a great volume of work every day.  It's a pleasure to go to work.  I'm used to it.

I guess that's what the purpose of Thanksgiving is - taking the time to look at all the components of our lives that we have become "used to" and breathe a sigh of gratitude.   I'm used to getting all the food I need (and more!).  I'm used to a good job, I'm used to loving family members and faithful friends, I'm used to having enough to wear, a warm house, and a comfy bed at night.    All these things I expect, just like a good production with my MT tools, and because I have had them for long enough I take them for granted.

But do you know what else I'm used to?  Security.  Freedom.  Peace.  I leave the house every day and I'm not searching in the sky for the next drone attack.  I'm not running to the bomb shelter every half hour when a siren blasts.  I'm not kissing my husband goodbye in the morning, wondering if the next time I see him will be in a coffin.  I'm not coming home to a shattered house.  I'm not getting on a bus wondering if there is an explosive hidden on it.  I don't worry that my grandkids' schools will be bombed.  I don't get up in the morning, wondering if this is the day I will lose my life because I'm in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I'm used to a life of peace.

That's what's so hard about watching the news this week.  Because for some folks in the world, fear is a daily occurrence.  The sad part is - they're used to it.  It breaks my heart.  It should break all our hearts, no matter what "side" you take, no matter what country you think is the aggressor and what is the defender (for both sides in this conflict have blood on their hands), humanity is showing its ugly, violent side, the air has the smell of death, and tears are being shed in buckets.  We have enough destruction in this world from weather catastrophes and accidents.  We don't need to add to it by doing things that are preventable.   Does anyone remember the movie War Games?  If hateful revenge is the answer, it will be the final answer because there is no end in the game of retaliation until there is nobody left to retaliate on either side.  Then who wins?

In our own country, there are people still being discriminated against, but they're "used to it" by now. There are families in abusive situations that are just "used to it."  There are people who know nothing but depression, or pain, or addiction, or illness.  It's gone on so long they're just "used to it" and can find no clear way out.

This Thanksgiving, there are some things we are used to, for which we lift up our hands in thanks.  There are other things we are used to that we shouldn't have to be used to, and for these things we pray for strength, patience, enlightenment, wisdom, and a path to peace.  Yeah, peace.  Some folks could really get used to that.