The  Beat: True Stories From the Streets

Page  by Harry Martin Polis
                Artwork by Jaynee Levy-Polis


 Years ago, when I was a police officer, I was working on a police wagon.  A call came in to go to a house and take a person to the hospital.  Upon entering the house, the patientís brother told us to go upstairs to the bedroom.  The brother was dying of cancer on the second floor.  The man who led us to the bedroom told us his brother had been in the Navy.  He had been a heavy smoker.  When I saw the man who had lung cancer, he appeared bone thin.  His arms had typical Navy man tattoos from World War II.  They were souvenirs telling whom the man loved and where he had been.  In this tiny airless row house bedroom in Frankford, two brothers lived together.  How much they loved each other was obvious.  I could see how deeply saddened the brother was that his beloved brother was about to die.  I looked about the sparsely decorated room.  There was a chair, the bed, and maybe a nightstand with a radio.  Nothing was on the walls except one thing that has stayed in my memory these last 30 years.  There was a large three-panel comic blow-up of Snoopy and Peanut cartoons.  What the cartoon said was profound, particularly in this situation.  Snoopy was laying on his back on his doghouse talking to Charlie Brown.  He said, ďI ask myself why? And the answer comes back, ďFor no particular reason. Itís just that my name came up.Ē  In life, for no particular reason, when our time is up and our lives done, we go home.

Copyright 2000 by Harry Martin Polis
Harry is available for lectures and entertainment with stories and poetry.  Contact SCOOP USA, or e-mail Harry.

Paperwork and Forms
 Did you ever notice the forms for either a job application, for doctorsí records, or school forms?  The information frequently requested seems totally unrelated to your particular situation.  You may be looking for answers to your own questions and the forms feel like an imposition.  I often wonder who designs these forms and do they reflect on what information will be important in each situation?  These forms remind me of how people do not listen when you tell them something important. 
 Today, we need to obtain order and serial numbers, our social security number, our phone numbers, etc.  in order to communicate with large companies.   We are inundated with paperwork wherever we go.  On the phone, we are shunted between voice messages inviting us to choose from a menu of numbers according to our callís goal.  Then we hear inane, awful music for long periods of time waiting for a human being to be free to answer our questions.  Over and over we enter whatever numbers the company feels are relevant.  The same questions are asked over and over as we grow weary. 
 I am so glad I retired because now I have the time to spend on all the forms.  I fill out forms for not only myself, but for my mother, Jaynee, Brian, and I help Brianís girlfriend Jeanette.  I am constantly calling and requesting forms.  It is not possible anymore to simply talk with a person and get problems settled.  Forms are expected and they are hard to get, and even harder to complete.  In the last three months, I have been filling out college applications and financial aid forms from the federal and state government.  They are mind-boggling.  I must sit on the phone at least four hours a day just trying to get the information and forms I need.  I doubt I am unusual.  What will the future bring?  Already, workers, once we finally reach one, are hostile and incompetent.  Often, they cannot understand our questions let alone answer them.  I am looking for the end and I think instead of the fat lady singing, it will be a case of throwing the forms into the trashcan when itís over.
Copyright 2000 by Harry Martin Polis
Harry is available for lectures and entertainment with stories and poetry.  Contact SCOOP USA, or e-mail Harry.

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