Born to Win: Transactional Analysis with Gesalt Experiments ~ by Muriel James and Dorothy Jongeward, 1971
I remember a day when I was reading a book while eating lunch at my desk and ran across an intriguing sentence: "If you had only one hour to live, what would you do?" That same day, I wrote what I now think of as the telephone story, describing what I thought I might do in that situation.
The book was Born to Win, and I had spotted it when I went out to grab a sandwich. From other thoughts I associate with that day, like taking my lunch and the book back to my tenth-floor office in the Chattanooga Bank Building, I think it may have been 1979. I was enjoying the book, not reading it straight through, but finding bits here and there that grabbed my attention. When I came across the question, "If you had only one hour to live, what would you do?" I thought, What, not even a whole day?
One of the possibilities that occurred to me was having my sister Ann spend that hour with me. She and I had decided years earlier that the one who died first would try to "appear" to the other. Yeah, I thought, I'd spend my last hour with Ann. So before the lunch hour ended, I picked up the phone on my desk and called her. The line was busy: "Brrrtt, brrrtt, brrrtt." I was stymied when I tried to "reach out and touch someone" as the phone company's slogan suggested. After my lunch break I got back to work, occasionally dialing Ann's number again. "Brrrtt, brrrtt, brrrtt." Over and over I got that busy signal and wondered who on earth she could be talking to for so long. Late in the afternoon I had one of those lightbulb moments when I realized, "I wasted the final hour of my life trying to call Ann!" If I'd truly had only one hour to live, I would have spent it unsuccessfully attempting to get through to my sister. I would have died alone!
After work I drove straight to Ann's house and learned that rain had knocked out the phones in her area. Water in the system caused a problem and the lines were out. Ann had not been talking an inordinately long time; she was marooned by a faulty phone line. And thus I "died" alone.
There's a metaphor in this story!
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