Friday, January 22, 2010

Another Day Older

Sunrise, sunset, repeat…. Grandbaby’s new habit of saying “mom” to get someone’s attention – in this case my daughter - started a conversation that led to the realization that my daughter is now the same age my mother was during her pregnancy with me (almost exactly: their birthdays are both in early December). My daughter is not pregnant, so there is no larger coincidence here, just another reason for the back to ache a little more.

On a recent episode of No Reservations in Panama, Anthony Bourdain was in the process of arranging a segment for the show when he and his crew were whisked to a remote site by the government to witness the destruction of part of what an official said was 16 tons of cocaine seized in a 42-day operation. It could just be that I’ve become jaded by all the stories I’ve heard over the years trumpeting drug seizures while the supply remains largely unaffected. But that number, combined with the contrast between the official’s enthusiasm and Bourdain’s joke that this won’t be the first time he has been involved in cooking cocaine, made me think of the subject of the Tennessee Ernie Ford song 16 tons, who talks about his toughness and ability at his job while noting that it’s not getting him anywhere.

I doubt that official feels that way. It would be tough to stay in that job if he did, and the people I know in that line of work don't. I imagine he can take the perspective that his efforts could drive the traffickers to safer havens and improve conditions in his nation. He could watch Bourdain’s program about Columbia, which showed how conditions have gotten vastly better than in the bad old days, for inspiration. But I wouldn’t blame him if he occasionally thought he'd be better off shoveling coal.