Saturday, September 26, 2015


The Pope just left town. The old old me would've just been pissed off. I would've been off on some rant about the enormous inconveniences and expenses for some spiritual leader. Not anymore. I live in the greatest city in the world and with that comes some sacrifices. The whole city used to stop for me on the first Sunday of every November when I ran the New York City Marathon. On a very regular basis they film things within blocks of my house. Sometimes it's hard to park, or I might have to cross the street when I'm walking. I could've avoided all of this by moving to a boring suburban cul-de-sac, but I don't think that's for me.

And I'm not talking about theoretical inconveniences. I go to physical therapy at the Rusk Institute. It's on 38th street between 2nd and 3rd. The people who work there, when they go out to lunch go to the same places that people who work at the UN eat. So Homeland Security ask the Rusk Institute to ask their patients to stay home if their therapy wasn't really that important.

More than a few people have told me I should've tried to of seen the Pope. Really. They thought it would've been a good idea for me to let him touch me, that that would heal me. There wasn't anything that could've come out of my mouth as a reply that would've left them as my friend. I just said I didn't think that would work. But in my mind what they were saying to me was that my lack of faith was leaving me crippled. If I'm wrong about heaven and hell, they're going to hell for thinking that.

That said, I do want to say why people are flocking to see the Pope. On September 13, 2001, I went to work. On that day in order to go south of 14th St. I had to show my business card that indicated I worked just off of E 10th St. There were no students so there wasn't much to do, and I was asked to go uptown to pick up the payroll, because the messengers weren't working. It wasn't that easy to get up to 34th St. and I saw one of those things that didn't make it to the news. Police from all over the country were told to go to New York City and just show up at the Empire State building. There they were given their assignments. I made it back to my office and needless to say I wasn't having a good day. I spent the next hour answering the phones and returning calls. Parents of students who live far away were checking in. They couldn't get in touch with their kids so they called their school.

In the early evening I heard some commotion from the front of the building. The president is outside! I ran to the front window, and sore Bill and Chelsea Clinton right below. He wasn't even The President anymore, but there he was taller than most, with his white hair. For less than a minute he was right below my second-story window. I never even found out why he came down to Greenwich Village. I went back to my desk and took a deep breath. I felt much better. That was weird. I didn't think that seeing someone would make me feel better. I very suddenly understood what charisma was. Yesterday watching the pope on TV I understood why people want to see him. The pope made people feel better, that is just a good thing.

Thanks Dina 

I have been home from the hospital a year now, so I think it's time to review a little..... Last April, in 2014, I had a nasty stomach virus. I had all those disgusting symptoms including a high fever for a couple of days. I didn't see a doctor or anything, I let my immune system handle it. After my stomach settled down I felt weird but I thought that was normal. But I also had intense pain in my feet and shins. It felt like my plantar fasciitis was having a street fight with my shinsplints. I should've known something was very wrong because this is the kind of pain that should happen spontaneously in the middle of the night. About a week after my stomach that settled down the pain was replaced by a weakness in my legs and hands. I walked into my doctor's office, and told her that I had to stop training for my 30th marathon because I started tripping over my own feet and that the dishes were getting heavy.  I was kinda hoping I had Lyme disease, but when I told my doctor my nurse the symptoms I had been experiencing she took a knee so we can be I die while I was sitting in that little wooden chair in the examining room and said, "I'm going to tell you something very important. You have a very serious condition I need to go  to the hospital right now. Don't walk to the local hospital, go to Beth Israel Hospital in Manhattan, they're expecting you in the emergency room." She gave me this little prescription paper and said , "You should call a cab from here."  More details can be found here.

Yeah, I went back home because I wasn't going to go to the ER and a T-shirt. I called the cab through a sweatshirt over my shoulders and googled Guillin Barre. Oh boy, I had a pull together quick, I thought it worst I had lime disease or something.  I knew I had to use all my powers to keep from exploding, and all I had was my good looks and charm. And honestly my good looks don't even work on my wife anymore.  The ER at Beth Israel was not a happy place. The nurse was behind a Plexiglas wall and I had a fill out a form with my symptom and name on it and slide it through the crack in the window. My handwriting was never great but at that point it had deteriorated to illegible, I held a little prescription paper up to the Plexiglas and let the triage nurse copy it onto my form. I was seen before a lot of the people who were waiting before me. And I heard them complain when the two doctors came to get me with a gurney.

So there I was, on a gurney in the hallway of the emergency room with just three things: my sweatshirt, my insurance cards and my attitude. I've had many jobs in customer service, and if there's one thing I learned is that the squeaky wheel doesn't always get the oil; sometimes it gets shoved in a closet.  I knew I was gonna need a lot of help and I knew how to get it. I made those doctors and nurses love me. They loved me because I was a nice guy, I went out of my way to ingratiate myself to the staff in that emergency room. I honestly think some people think I am nicer than I think I am. Maybe I have low self-esteem, or maybe I think I'm being manipulative, or maybe I just have a need to be liked. But I believe I have a vested interest in having a positive attitude. Basically, I believe that when you're nice to people there nicer to you. And I really needed that in the emergency room. I also knew that my wife was gonna show up soon and she's really good at playing bad cop.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that playing the role of a nice person as its benefits. I learned that lesson a long time ago. A long time ago I had a summer job carrying beach chairs and umbrellas for people at a private club. The first weekend people took me in quarters. The next weekend they asked me where the other guy was from last year? I never knew who he was and then they told me how much nicer I was that him and I got tipped in ones and fives. I was just being pleasant to people because then I knew they'd be pleasant back to me. I did know would be profitable.

 I didn't like being alone but a lot of the nurses didn't mind spending time with me. Sometimes I woke up a lot earlier than I had to and staff members would bring me a cup of coffee. Or maybe it was the other way around. Maybe I was learning that if I was nice people would be nice to me.

Thanks James McDairmant
I guess what I'm trying to get at is that being a nice person has its own rewards, and maybe it is just the goal and not a means of getting somewhere. I have found that nice people get the clump up together. My kids spent the summer volunteering and a favorite part is that the other volunteers were nice. I've been spending a lot of time with Achilles athletes. The guides the guides are some of the nicest people I've met, all I have to do is show up and act natural. They are getting as much out of it as the athletes.

But then there's the people who are only doing these good deeds for their God. They show up irregularly out of a sense of obligation. Some of them even with their God define what a good deed is. The ultra-Orthodox Jews are only asking you if you're Jewish so that they can get you to perform a ritual.

Also, I really thrive on positive feedback. I need to be out there hearing from people that they think I'm doing better. For me my improvement is slow. But when someone sees me every few weeks or months they get excited because I'm not a wheelchair anymore, or I could use a fork.  So here's the list of my accomplishments of the past two weeks.

  • No problem walking around Prospect Park.
  • I don't always need a straw, I can hold a cup!
  • With a little help I can brush my own teeth.
  • And drumroll please...... I can get out of bed and take a leak without asking for help.


  1. When you are asked to do or say something about religion say I give you my good wishes.
    On the west lawn of the Capitol before his speech to Congress Pope Frances talking to people who will be listing
    to his speech sad "I ask you to pray for me, and if there are any among you who do not believe or cannot pray, I ask you please to send good wishes my way."

    1. This Pope has been talking the talk and he walks the walk. But not much has changed in his church

  2. You're a good man Michael Ring :)


You do not have to be nice!


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