It sure must be dark in there

It seems like you can’t turn on the news without hearing at least one story about the infrastructure lately, which isn’t much of a surprise. Take a moment or two to consider the infrastructure in any village, town or city and you will undoubtedly wonder just how old are those sewer systems anyway? And the roads, bridges and tunnels and anything else people use on a regular basis without really noticing them until they’re unusable? Of course, once something collapses, that’s all people can think—and talk–about.  

Which brought to mind our own infrastructures, a topic I typically prefer to ignore. If you get out of bed in the morning without pain or stiffness or anything else out of the ordinary, you don’t really think about what is going on inside of you 24/7.   

When I do think of all that activity under the skin, the first thing that comes to my mind is how dark it must be in there. Anatomy books always show pictures of hearts and kidneys and intestines lit up like disco night at a skating rink. In reality our organs do their work in the dark, humming along like clocks on a nightstand at midnight, silent and efficient. Working so well in the dark might be symbolic, but I have no idea of what.  

Occasionally I wonder how the many different parts of our bodies do their jobs without their owner being more aware of what going on. It’s like each of us is a very wealthy tycoon, the kind cartoonists drew for newspapers in the 1920’s, complete with fur coat, expensive jewelry and carrying a big bag stuffed with money, a dollar bill sign emblazoned on the outside just in case anyone should miss the point that this is a VERY WEALTHY PERSON.  

Keeping the wealthy tycoon going are teams and teams of non-unionized underlings, going about their jobs smoothly and only making noises when there’s a problem, like perhaps when Mr. Tycoon has enjoyed himself a little too much on a Saturday night.  

“Better get some extra help in the liver! Gall bladder too!” Chief Underling shouts. “This Bozo had four margaritas last night and what looks like an extra-large bowl of nachos. And I’m pretty sure he licked the salt off the rims of all the glasses. Oh good Lord, what’s that? A pizza? What does he think, he’s still 20?”  

A bunch of underlings then rush to the gall bladder and liver and do whatever it is they do to metabolize all those extra alcoholic calories and fat in the form of tequila, tortilla chips, ground meat and a ton of cheese and pizza sauce, not to mention salsa and sour cream. The tycoon will feel a little lousy come Sunday morning, but by the evening he’ll have forgotten all about it.  

It’s only when the underlings throw in their collective towel over something like a hot dog eating contest followed by a double hot fudge sundae and go on strike that Mr. Tycoon is forced to take notice.  

Reader’s Digest used to have an occasional feature that explained what different body parts did, such as “I am Joe’s large intestine.” I never read those articles back in the day when my family subscribed to Reader’s Digest because it was way too much yucky information and I preferred “Drama in Real Life,” but now I think it would be interesting to know just what is going on inside of us while we merrily go through our days counting on all those underlings to keep us in the pink. That kind of knowledge could steer us away from the nachos and toward a bowl of blueberries instead.  

The same can probably be true of the outside world’s infrastructure as well. The main difference with the country’s infrastructure as opposed to each of our own is that fixing one requires far too much politicking. Fixing the other, or at least maintaining it a little better, only requires reading some old Reader’s Digests and throwing out that box of margarita salt in your kitchen cupboard.  

Oh, and becoming a union shop, complete with paid vacations and sick days for all the underlings.   


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