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The Wrong Box
by Melodie Corrigall

New in town, Walter was delighted to be one of four locals invited to give a presentation on what the facilitator called his “profession” to the high school graduates. Chadville was obviously more appreciative of his type of work than was his former town, where they called a long haul trucker’s work a “blue collar job.”

When he’d filled out the address form for the Welcome Lady, Walter had explained that he’d retired from his demanding work because he was no longer alert enough to do it safely. “If I keep trucking I’ll put other people’s lives at risk,” he said and the woman had sung out, “You’ve picked a great place to retire but don’t expect us to call you doctor or sir. All first names here.”

Walter was fine with that. He certainly wasn’t a doctor and had never in his life been called sir. But informal or not, he was pleased someone recognized the role of the trucker. He would enjoy explaining the challenges of his work: long, lonely hours but good money, especially for someone who’d hardly scraped through grade 12.

“Here goes,” he thought noting it was his turn to speak. He pulled his snug sweater over his expanding waist, and prepared to move to the podium.

“Last but not least I’m proud to introduce Dr. Walter Bangels, who also demonstrates the importance of a university degree.”

As one who had never even eaten in a University cafeteria let alone attended a university, Walter gasped. What had he said to the Welcome Lady to give her the impression he was a doctor? In retrospect he realized he hadn’t actually said he was a trucker but he surely hadn’t suggested he was a doctor. His eyes flashed to the program where his name appeared in neon: Dr. Walter Bangels. When filling out the form for the welcome lady, he’d obviously ticked off the wrong box—Dr. not Mr.—and so she’d concluded he was a physician.

This could be a tricky. He’d have to rely on some jokes to keep the crowd entertained. Thankfully, at the luncheon earlier, he hadn’t suggested what the principal should do about his unsightly rash nor discussed his light hearted approach to open-heart surgery.