Volume 36, Issue 11, November 2001


        “I’m Worried Sick, Can You Help Me?”
by Lyle R. Hill


“Hey Mr. Hill,” the early morning caller began, “how are you on this beautiful morning?”

“Who is this?” I replied, not recognizing the voice.

“It’s me, your old pal, the ‘Mooch,’” the caller snapped back.

“You can’t be the Mooch,” I responded.

“Why not?” the unfamiliar voice asked, sounding more than a little bit puzzled by my inability to distinguish who he was.

“Well first of all,” I began to explain, “the real Mooch cannot speak more than five words in a row without at least two of them being off-color or offensive. Secondly, he has never addressed me as Mr. Hill and thirdly, you used the word beautiful in your opening remark to me … the Mooch doesn’t know the word beautiful exists.”

“And therefore, Mr. Hill, you are assuming that I am not the real Johnny ‘The Mooch’ Rago but some imposter? Well, I’ll have you know, it really is me.”

“There’s one other thing,” I replied, starting to recognize certain pronunciations and nasal sounds as somewhat familiar, “you sound like a human being. The real Mooch does not.”

“I know, Hill, and that’s why I called you. I’m worried … real worried.”

“About what?” I asked, happy that he had dropped the Mister from in front of my name and starting to believe that maybe this was the real Mooch after all.

“About me!” he snapped sounding more like himself than he had thus far. “I’m telling you I’m really worried. You see, I’ve changed and I don’t know what to do about it. How am I gonna make a living? How will I support all of my bad habits and vices? This is a real problem and you gotta help me.” 

“OK, maybe it is really you, Mooch. But how have you changed and how am I supposed to help you?”

“Hill, you know me better than anyone … in fact, you’re the closest thing I have to an actual friend. So in my moment of need, I’m coming to you because I am very, very worried about what’s happening to me.”

“Alright, start from the beginning. When did you first start having this problem that’s got you so worried?”

“It started on September 12 … you know … the day after the Trade Center thing. I went out and bought a large American flag for the front of my house and a smaller one for my car.”

“Mooch, a lot of people did that. Why would that worry you?”

“Hill, you know how I feel about the government. I mean, in many ways, I’ve always considered them as one of my enemies. My neighbors were in shock.”

“I have to admit, Mooch, that this is a bit startling. But tell me what happened next.”

“OK, so about a week later, on the 20th to be exact, I went to my nephew’s birthday party at my sister’s house. He was turning five and I kinda like the little guy. He’s the one they nicknamed ‘Little Mooch’ cause he looks a little like me.”

“I’m starting to see your point,” I replied, while developing a sense of pity for anyone of any age that might resemble the Mooch in any way. But this revelation told me a lot. You see, his brother-in-law works for the FBI and without question, this is an organization that he has tried to avoid for a long time. And Mooch never attends family events of any kind for anyone at anytime. Something was going on!

“Also,” he continued, “I even bought the little guy a gift. And later in the evening, he climbed up in my lap and after he thanked me for the gift, he asked me if I thought that China would help us fight the evil people who attacked New York. I asked him why China was so important and he told me that China has ninjas and they are very sneaky and quick and we could really use them to fight the evil people before they attacked his neighborhood. He told me to make sure I locked my doors at night, too. Hill, I hate to admit this, but I actually got tears in my eyes while he was telling me all this. And I don’t ever remember crying before … never.”

“Gee, Mooch, so far I haven’t heard anything too far outside of what would be considered normal behavior … at least for most people.

“Hill, I haven’t finished. It gets much worse. And besides, I am not normal people.”

“You’ve got me there, Mooch. But go on with your story.”

“OK, and now it gets very scary … I’ve been getting a lump in my throat every time I hear the “Star Spangled Banner” or “God Bless America.” I’m starting to be friendly to people I don’t even know, I think the President is doing a great job in spite of the fact that I hate Republicans and last week … and I’m counting on you not telling this to anyone … I went to church and the sermon made sense to me. So, do you see Hill? Do you see why I am so worried about myself?”

“Yes, I’m starting to understand.”

“And here’s the clincher, Hill. I’m actively looking for a real job. You know … the kind where they pay you once a week and take taxes and things outta your paycheck. I’m worried sick about all of this. You gotta help me.”

“I’m sorry, Mooch. I cannot help you. You are, indeed, changed forever. But you shouldn’t be worried about these changes. These changes are good, and all of us have been changed by what happened. And you shouldn’t worry about being kind or wanting to be a good citizen or neighbor. It’s always been the right thing to do. It’s just that for awhile it seemed a little old-fashioned and out of style.”

“So I shouldn’t worry about myself or about the country?”

“No, my friend, I think both you and the country will be just fine.” 


HILL Lyle R. Hill is president of MTH Industries of Chicago.  lyle@glass.com


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