Sunday, July 24, 2005

Facing my Mortality in a Safe

Upon my request, Jim was showing me how the radiation meter works to detect radiation.

"Come with me." Jim led me outside and into a locked shed. I hesitantly followed him through the padlocked door.

Jim approached a heavy metal safe sitting on the dark, damp industrial cement floor and held the meter up to it.

I was impressed as I heard the meter's tick-tick-tick alerting us to the radiation emitting from the safe. I have always liked to live dangerously, but I stepped back in fear.

"Oh, that's nothing," he explained, having noted my unease. "See the numbers on the gauge? They're only reading at about 100. Watch this."

My shoulders tensed as I watched him unlock the safe.

He lifted a small round box from inside the safe. The box was slightly larger than a 35mm film canister. He opened the lid and set the meter on top. The ticks were almost indistinguishable from one another as I watched the needle rise to the top of the scale on the meter.


At that level of radiation, the meter sounded like the crackle of an AM radio.

"Yikes," my fear escaped my mouth. I was sure that I was getting cancer just standing next to that little film canister. I wanted to run from the safe, screaming, but my feet were glued in place. Much like a nightmare, only this was real life.

Although at times, I may come off as fascinated with death, I still have quite a bit of unease with the idea of my own mortality.

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