Duck kicking preferred to slow death by pecking

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Confronting the pressures of life, work

By Linda Ireland

For 10 years I worked with Daphne Loyall at Sunrise Manor Nursing Home.

Daphne, as administrator, deals with patient care, personnel issues, auditors and government regulations. Just try to read through the latest Medicare requirements and you’ll find plenty of reasons to pull out your hair.

Daphne had an expression she used when she was having one of “those days,” when no big thing was going wrong but the little things weren’t going right and she felt she would drown in them.

“It’s like being pecked to death by ducks,” she’d say.

I had a pet duck named Gus once. He was a sweetheart, not like the mean ducks that will turn on you at Freeman Lake. He’d follow us around, begging for food and attention. And, he would peck. The first time wasn’t so bad, but by the third or fourth hit, you were tired of it and were ready to make soup of him.

Being pecked to death by a duck would be a slow and terrible process. You might lose your mind before your body gave up.

I’ve been feeling like that a lot recently. I’ve had what you might call a monumental setback in my peace and presence of mind. In the meantime, all those little problems and criticisms – that normally, I could shrug off – have become magnified.

I’m carrying around a load that is much too heavy – one that is so wide I can’t even see around it – and there are dozens of those blasted quackers pecking at my ankles.

I can’t work hard enough or efficiently enough to make them go away. The harder I try, the more ducks show up. And for the last few weeks, the ducks have been winning.

How do you make the ducks go away? Stop feeding them, I guess, which means stop paying them heed. No more listening to their racket. Perhaps I’ll even give them a kick.

I can’t shut them up completely, but at the very least, maybe they’ll find a new victim.