Friday, February 22, 2019

False Face

Lies, whispered sweetly in my ear
Lies, how do I get out of here?
Why, why you have to be so cruel?

Lies, lies, lies I ain't such a fool!
~~ "Lies" by The Rolling Stones

It didn't occur to me until this morning that this whole mess with Jussie Smollett reminded me of something from my past.
My first job was in Grand Forks, North Dakota, in the lab in the small hospital there. I became close friends with a couple of phlebotomists. I'll call them Sheila and Craig. They used to come over to the condo I had with my husband at the time, and Sheila and Craig and I would sit on the bed and watch "Knot's Landing." (Kind of amazing how so many memories can come back when you haven't thought of them for years.) We were all just friends, but I felt very close to both of them. 
One day in the lab, I was working in Hematology and Craig came up to me with a slide of a blood smear. He said, "Hey, this is mine...would you take a look at it?" I said, "Sure!" and sat down at the microscope. I focused in and saw tons of blastocytes. I looked up at him and looked back in the microscope. I said, "Listen, I can't diagnose you, but this isn't good. This is full of blasts." (Blastocytes are the sign of some sort of leukemic process going on.) I said, "You need to see your doctor." 
He said, "Really?" I said, "Yes, absolutely. This really is not good." He thanked me and took his slide away. I was really worried about him. 
Especially when he didn't show up for work a couple of days later. I didn't know what was going on and I couldn't get ahold of him. I started asking around trying to figure out what was going on. I eventually talked to the supervisor of the lab and said I was really worried about him. She told me that he had been let go. I recall getting a little mad and wondering if it was because he was sick. I told her that I'd looked at his slide and he had some kind of leukemia. She hesitated and then told me, "That wasn't his slide." 
I said, "What? He gave it to me himself."
She said, "It wasn't his. He took a tube from a leukemia patient and put his own name on it." 
I was stunned. "Why would he do that?"
She said, "I don't know."
All these years later, and I still don't know. I never heard another word from him or anything about him. It was like he vanished off the face of the earth.
As I remembered this today, I still wonder what motivated him to do that. Was it a plea for sympathy? He was my friend...he didn't need to falsify a disease in order for me to sympathize with him. I'm a little appalled that he would do that to a friend. I wasn't the only one he told about it, and we were all very concerned about him. It seems like a betrayal to know that he purposely deceived several of us and used a sick patient to do so. 
I bear him no ill will. All I hope is that he got some help because he obviously needed some. That's exactly what I hope for Mr. Smollett. But just as Craig paid for his deception by losing his job, Mr. Smollett needs to be held accountable for his actions. Craig took advantage of the goodwill of his friends and it appears that Mr. Smollett took advantage of everyone who condemns hate crimes (which should be all of us). 
I'll never understand that kind of deception but I can understand that people that do things like this need counseling and I hope they get it.