Category essay

A Long Time Ago, In Another Lifetime

cup-of-soda-1328372“I just need to get an extension until the 15th, after that, we can pay the full amount,” I tell the woman behind the desk. He had told me to come down here to the gas company to get an extension on paying the bill. He said they would be less likely to say no if I went in person rather than going to the payphone on the corner to call, like I’ve done in the past when the bill wasn’t quite so far behind. Sure, easy for him to say, since I’m the one who had to walk the fifteen blocks in threadbare shoes in the middle of February with sleet outside to get a damned extension on the gas bill.

Can shoes be threadbare? I wonder while waiting for the woman to tap something into the keys of the large keyboard in front of the amber-colored screen of the computer monitor in front of her. When I came in here, all I wanted was an extension of a few days, but I figure asking for an extension until the fifteenth would be better. Give them something to negotiate with instead of just telling them what I really need. The woman refuses to extend me. She says I must pay at least a little bit of it right now. I feel in my pocket for the coins in there, knowing they’re not even close to enough to touch the monthly winter gas bill.

Then again, it’s unlikely Carlos* is going to have the money no matter what day I get the extension until, but it’s better to ask and do what he says than to face his wrath.

“I’m sorry, ma’am, but the computer won’t...

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Guest Blogger: Author Daniel Dinges

Why I Wrote Get Out of the Way
by Daniel Dinges

Get Out of the Way has to do with the passage of time. At sixty-three, the idea of writing stories about the Vietnam era became more and more attractive to me.

My motivation to write also came from my personal experiences in public high school classrooms several years ago. It is amazing what educators have done to contort the history of the Vietnam War and Sixties culture, with much of its value and relevance relegated to a few dry paragraphs.

The students in these classrooms, however, showed intense interest in what actually went on in the “old days.” We had some great conversations, and giving them primary source insights was a delight. This work attempts to provide an accurate, and close up view of what it was like to be a young adult in the Sixties and early ‘70s.

Perhaps the most important and simplest reason I wrote my first historical novel was to entertain. This story informs, makes you laugh, and perhaps brings you to tears.

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