Walk Down Misery Street

“Pete, my dear, you know that I love you . . . “

I looked at her in surprise. Had I heard correctly? “Pete, my dear . . . I love you . . . “

“But now,” she continued, “the clinic is undergoing some difficult times. You can’t imagine how hard it is to run this business; competition is crazy. Forgive me, but I can’t do it. I can’t raise your salary even a dollar.”

So that’s how it is? Today, right now, I’ll buy myself a new suit and tie. I’ll update my resume. I’ll lie at the interview, say I’m an expert with vast experience and I know exactly how to treat this damn drug addiction!

In America, we have a wonderful tradition of giving a person who leaves a good luck card. “Pete, good luck at your new job! Don’t forget us! Call us! I believe in you!” There was cake, pizza, and Pepsi. I remember Francesca’s emotional farewell speech, Adam’s brotherly hug, and Liza’s watery eyes.

In saying “goodbye” to them, I thought that our whole life consists of serendipitous encounters. And these seemingly unexpected meetings influence us, form us, and open our hearts to new depths and make us who we were meant to become.

I still have and cherish to this day that card with its good luck wishes.


Part Three


I started a new job at a hospital-based outpatient clinic in the Bronx. I hit the jackpot. My current salary was almost double the last, and they offered excellent health insurance. The clinic, however, was not in the main hospital building, but in a different, poor, and high-crime Bronx neighborhood.

Russian immigrants had lately come to increasingly populate this area, which in turn affected the patient demographic in the substance abuse clinic. Drug counselors who could work with both Russians and Americans were in need.