What to Read and When

Either you need information or you desire entertainment. In either case, a young person’s time fills with activity. Yet, young people stumble and fumble through their early lives because they have not experienced the pitfalls and rabbit path trails of work, love, finances, and real estate. Young people should read voraciously to get an edge on what comes next in their lives. An older person might have more time in the day, but less time in life. Older people possess the wisdom to be selective in their reading. Rather than seeking an edge of knowledge, an older person might juice more sweetness from life by identifying with a fictional character who came out on top by living a moral life in spite of torment and misfortune.

Consider this: regardless of your age, the media bombards you with plenty of information on daily news that will enable you to converse socially. Are you an online social media aficionado? You know that it only takes a few glances and a tiny bit of reading to keep up with current events with your friends. In your profession, yes, you should read to advance your knowledge, but realize that by only reading yesterday’s technical guidance, you neither prepare well for today’s technical problem, nor do you advance technically for tomorrow. Besides that, the technical go-to-person in a company receives visits from people who have technical problems. Unless that person interacts socially with the managers and employees, he or she will not be remembered for promotion. However, the technically astute person who brings fun, happiness, charisma, and stands like a moral rock, might slice through company politics like a hot knife through butter, to advance beyond his or her peers. Read fiction to learn how to be that person.

Why read a made up story? Most fiction writers create interesting stories based on what they know – things that have happened to them. The singer, Prince, famously said, “Before I dreamed it, I lived it.” He meant that he had a better story to tell through song because he sang about things that happened to him. You learn his story, appreciate his experience, and possibly get an edge for yourself while he entertains you with his song. You can get that by reading fictional stories too. Don’t limit yourself to stories that closely align with your life. It will do you little good to read what you have experienced. Instead, if a writer piques your interest in the first five pages of any genre: thriller, mystery, romance, science fiction, drama, history, or comedy, acquire and read that novel. Especially, if you feel a hook in your mouth that pulls you into wanting to read the rest of the story, do it. Don’t walk away with regret.

The time and setting do not matter. A 200-years-ago story on the planet Mars can be relevant to you today, as well as entertaining while you read it. You will perk up when you read about a character who faces a nasty experience similar to one that happened to you at work or at home, yet, he or she determined the effect wanted amid chaos, planned, then acted on a plan that switched them from victim to world-shaper. That information may be far more useful to you than today’s news story or your friend’s latest Facebook photo. Like Prince, you might live it, then dream it. Find a lifetime of free fiction novels online, but understand that inexperienced authors break into the writing business by giving their work away. Don’t deny yourself the better read by being stingy with vending machine snack money. #TAG1writer

Handy, the Unfortunate Traffic Cop

Lieutenant Robert Handoff started working as a policeman who directed traffic thirty years ago. He became famous as one of the best-known traffic director somewhere in Georgia because he went out of his way to make drivers feel special and safe. He was known for waving his hands at drivers so much that he was known affectionately called “Happy Hands” or simply “Handy.” But one day, Robert’s luck changed. As he was leaving from being on duty at an intersection for a weekend of fishing, he spotted a little boy walking across the road who was about to get hit by a car, driven by some speeding maniac. Robert was close enough to get the child out of harm’s way, but in the process, he got hit himself. He almost got run over, but somehow his left hand got underneath the car’s tire and crushed it.

The pain was excruciating. Robert howled as people flocked to him. Several motorists stopped. A young woman dialed 911. As they anxiously waited for an ambulance, they tried to comfort Robert whose hand was bleeding profusely. The wait felt like an eternity for Robert. Within ten minutes, an ambulance roared to the scene. Paramedics shot the stretcher out of the ambulance’s back and Robert was quickly, but carefully hoisted.

The emergency team tried to calm him down as one of them gave him a pain-numbing sedative. The other carefully wrapped his hand around in a gauze to ease the bleeding. As the ambulance roared to the closest hospital, Robert was already feeling the effects of the sedative. The paramedic team raced him into the ER, a doctor was already waiting at a table and hooked him up to all sorts of hospital equipment. Then, they rushed him into surgery.

The operation took a grueling three hours. After the operation, Robert was placed in ICU. When he woke, Dr. Fingers, the surgeon came to talk to him. “I have some unfortunate news,” he said. “We were able to save all of your fingers, except one – the middle finger.”

Robert laughed slightly and said, “I’ll bet I’ll become real popular with drivers.” The doctor smiled. “I remember you. Aren’t you ‘Handy’?” “Yes. I always used both my hands to direct traffic and wave at people. “But I won’t be doing my job anymore.” He sighed. “If I go out there in traffic, I’ll make a lot of drivers mad because I’d have to use my middle finger.”