We may not think about it much, and for good reason, it may just be nonsense. But we are all tagged who we are and what we do throughout the day. John Q Public has ever changing tags for each of us. Some tags are temporary actions. Others are more permanent. We could be a driver, cyclist, biker, or pedestrian or any number of generic tags during our daily activities.
It’s just what we do with our words to describe others at a particular time. And we don’t think of it normally. Out walking around NYC, I don’t think of myself as a pedestrian, even though I am during those moments.
Then there are tags which define us in certain circles. We are all daughters, fathers, brothers, or nieces. Usually, the more the merrier where family tags are concerned.
Yesterday my time as a pedestrian took me out to Chelsea Pier with the weekend papers. At the skateboard rink there happened to be a competition and it was festival-like with tents and food surrounding the rink. One tent was plastered with the sign “skate for cancer.” Skateboarders for cancer? My curiosity peaked I walked over to the tent and a young girl started telling me how her father was a “two-time cancer survivor” and that he was brave and was back skating, fought cancer, and lost an eye in the process. In fact, her father was sitting behind her inside the tent chowing down on a large sandwich. She said he’d be glad to talk to me (I didn’t spill my beans), but he was eating. I looked over at him and he gave me a nod and wink with his one eye while he was stuffing the sandwich back in his mouth.
I said thanks, continued being a ped for a while and thought, ‘there’s a skater and a cancer survivor.’ A two-time one nonetheless. I’m sure it was brave skating again with half your vision gone. Maybe that’s what made his daughter so proud. But the surviving part made me wonder. He did what thousands of other people with cancer have done. He got treated and accepted the consequences and was lucky enough to come back and do what he loves doing.
When I think of the tag ‘survivor,’ I think of people who have gone through life-changing events, such as accidents or war veterans. People who have gone through extraordinary trauma which has changed what they can do or how they function. To survive an extraordinary event and maintain a positive perspective takes a special type of courage. A true survivor. I bow my head in thanks that I’m not in that category.
I’m sure the girl’s father was a brave guy. He looked to be about my age and was still competing in skateboard events. He was a two-time champ in her eyes. Nothing wrong with that. I was just wishing I could have eaten a sandwich like that. But hey, at that moment he was a father, a skater, and a two-time survivor (and a hungry man).
As I returned home after getting through the bundle of papers, feeling grateful that I’m not in the survivor category, at least not my survivor category, I was thinking how lucky I am to be a ped, and a biker again soon, and that I can talk, have both arms and legs functioning, and my head relatively in tact. And, thinking that the sandwich didn’t look so good anyhow.
If I missed you, then tag you’re not it.