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I profess not to be any great writer.

These are the ponderings

of a poor man's mind.

  • Nate Barker

Something Like Scales Fell from Their Eyes

Updated: May 2

I worked for a while at an office that was in an old two-story Victorian home on one of the main streets in the city. This grand old structure had probably seen better days before all its rooms were sliced up and divided into offices, waiting areas, conference rooms, a kitchen, and of course bathrooms.

I’m a coffee drinker (actually it is a newly acquired taste…I use to tell people that I was ‘naturally caffeinated’…then I got old). I was worked at this Hospice I would often grab a cup of brew in the morning as the work day started. But this java was different from your normal cup ‘o joe. Each morning someone (I believe was the chief finical officer) would whip up a pot of the most potent coffee you ever let burn your sleeping tongue. She more than doubled each scoop of grounds. In fact, many of my co-workers would get half a cup of coffee and then go to the water cooler (which had hot water too) and fill their cup up the rest of the way.

Like I said it was strong coffee and as we all know coffee is a diuretic (that’s fancy talk for “it makes you pee”). So by around 10 o’clock I would be scurrying to one of the two bathrooms in the building. The first was right around the corner from my office, but often that was occupied so I would have to hoof it up the stairs to the second floor water closet.

I had noticed, in this up-stair bathroom, that there was a scale for weighing yourself. I had even stepped on it once or twice. Something you should know about me is that I often brag about how my weight hasn’t changed since high. This is true. I weighed 165 my senior year and so far I’ve hovered just around that weight. (Don’t get too upset with me…it’s genetics).

On one of these pride boosting occasions when I stepped on the scale, I noticed the large name printed on its top, “Counselor”.

Counselor? Like the guy who was in charge of my cabin summer camp when I was a kid?

Counselor? Like the strange lady in high school that said I would be better at a manual labor job than going on to college?

Counselor? You mean like a lawyer (how much do sharks weigh anyway?)

Counselor? As in “wonderful” Jesus in Handel's Messiah?

Then it hit me. Of course! What better counselor to have in your life than an object that simply tells you the truth. The facts. Science doesn’t lie. You weigh what you weigh. You may not like it, but your weight is not a matter that is up for debate. Just like a good counselor, this scale stuck to the facts and let you work out the rest.

An inanimate bathroom scale could be the best thing that ever happened to you. After all, it takes all the pressure off the strange interpersonal relationship that arises from a person laying there on your bathroom floor for the same purpose. Day after day you walk in, there is Dave or Diane in the corner. Occasionally with a sigh you step on top of them and with an exasperated exhale they moan out “One hundred and sixty five pounds!”

No, Counselor is a great name and job for a bathroom scale. It’s a mature approach to adulthood. It puts the ownership of you are squarely on your shoulders. You can’t step back in disgust and scream, “Diane! Your such a liar! Why did I ever invite you into my home!” No, the Counselor is a freedom granted to the human race. Let the scale tell all.

We need to get back to the old days when scales first came to this country in the 1800’s. Back then they did tell all. The Penny Scale was a popular fixture on thousands of street corners and in front of countless business establishments. After a while they not only told you your weight, but also your future, your fortune, and some even gave you a nifty photo of a movie star (all thin and healthy looking of course). The masses were hooked! People pumped these machines full of pennies, even through the Great Depression. Can you image the conversations on the street in front of the general store?

“Why Betty, that scale says you weigh 145. That’s amazing! Good for you.”

“Thank you, Susan. Now, Let’s see yours! I’m so excited to tell everyone back at the church social!”

What a great asset in social settings to know one’s weight and be able to compare it to others. All those passing by on the street curiously looking over your shoulder at what the meter would say. What a way to make friends, start a conversation with a stranger, or even find the love of your life. Modern society was on its way to Utopia. But like most technologies that catch on in popular culture, someone decided that everyone needed a scale.

Scales were redesigned. The parts got cheaper and smaller. Pretty soon everyone could afford one in their own home. The bathroom scale had seen its genesis and the penny scale its demise. Suddenly Susan didn’t know what Betty weighed. Their friendship began to change as they moved from frank honesty to guessing dress sizes. Soon they were hardly speaking anymore. It was really a shame because Betty had begun working out a bit more, and had actually gained some muscle weight. Think of the conversations they missed out on!

So is all lost? Are we doomed as a species? Is the bathroom scale threatening to rip us apart and lead to a weighty Armageddon?

Before you go throwing your Counselor out the bathroom window, know this…..all is not lost. There is a brighter side to this dilemma; a silver lining of grace. This modern technology that seems to want to destroy us has actually given us an unbelievable gift. This gift, like most precious things, is held close once we discover it. We do not easily give it up once received. We assume that others may also have it, but because it is so meaningful to us, we do not easily share it.

What is this gift?

Self-loathing of course!

That’s right…a gift, not a curse. The ability to look privately at one’s weight and in an instant transcribe that into a value statement about one’s self.

I can hear you now, “Isn’t there a big ‘butt’ in there someplace….I thought self-loathing was a bad thing? Aren’t we supposed to be working towards self-acceptance, self-appreciation, and self satisfaction?”

Well I hate to break it to you but – no. You’re wrong.

Self-loathing with do wonders for our world. The collective pride of people will decrease. We will become more humble, gentle, and meek. When we see that red digital number push past where we want it to be or see that dial not quite make it to the mark we were aiming for, we will stop ourselves and take a good hard look in the mirror. We will see beyond the number on the scale and instead see what we never measured up to be in all aspects of our life.

We will see the failures and the times we let others down. We will remember the good things that we tried to do that blew up in our face and came back to haunt us. Memories of promises broken, feelings hurt, careers that went nowhere, and expectations that fell flat will remind us that we really aren’t the person we thought we were.

Our eyes will meet our own in the mirror and we will say, “Boy, I really am a screw up and a failure. What hope is there for me?”

We will look long and hard, past the crooked nose and the stained teeth. Beyond the thinning hair and the puffy eyes. We will look deep into our soul and realize that we really don’t love ourselves….and in that moment we will realize that we need something beyond us. Something bigger. Something that can hold together this mess we call life. Something that brings a hope that goes beyond tomorrow or the next day. We will crave to know true love.

Or, maybe our best bet is to go back to the old days. Place the scale in the living-room, weigh everyone in the house and ever guest that comes through the door. Congratulate them on their weight, give them a hug, strip the scale of its counseling license and rename it “Friend.”

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