Restored Picture


I really wanted to watch the Belmont Stakes last Saturday. I really love my job, but lately my faith in being able to realize the big picture I have for the MMSC as well as for the betterment of the racing industry down the stretch has been flagging. Any one who has tried to effect change any where at any time, knows that it takes vision and grit. But, heaven forbid should your picture get obfuscated! Then your gusto will lag. And gusto is essential.


This race could be the pick-me-up I needed. First of all, the “people’s horse,” California Chrome (left) was chasing the third jewel in the Triple Crown. His becoming the first horse in 36 years to win it would be really great for racing. But my heart belonged to the little grand horse, Samraat (right), owned by a MMSC board member. I had reschooled his full sister and several of his half siblings. He was family. I understood what the mother of Tracy and Lanny Barnes must feel when her twin daughters (below) compete in the same biathlon events. How does one pick a favorite child?
I burst through the door at home that evening, dashed to where our television sits, and was alarmed to find an agitated husband, remote in hand, randomly slamming its buttons whilst glaring at the Direct TV logo that bobbed saucily across a blank screen.

“What’s up?” I asked, suspecting the answer.
“The D#%%**&&!!!  TV WON’T WORK!,” he spurted.
“Let’s see, honey.” 
Husbands tend not to like to read, follow, or ask for directions. It has to do with the Primeval-Man-Can-Do! thing. Fortunately I am immune to that, and without hesitation picked up the phone.
“Hello. Thank for calling Direct TV. This is Nenita. How may I help you today?”
 I explained the urgency to restore service. The Triple Crown. One horse had a chance to win it. Another was a favorite of mine.  
 Yes ma’am. I understand.”  She had a refreshing accent,  like pineapples or starfruit. 

Where are you located, Nenita?”

“In the Philippines, ma’am.”   
“You speak beautiful English!”
“English and Filipino are the two official languages spoken here. But there are over 100 other languages and dialects spoken in my country.”
“My goodness! How many of those do you speak?”
“Four, ma’am, and I understand many others. Now let’s reset your system, shall we?”
Nenita began walking me through the unplugging of chords, the depressing of buttons temporarily, the scrolling through options. It took, seemingly, forever. I kept eyeing my watch. When I get nervous, I talk. So I kept asking her questions.
“Have you ever heard of the Triple Crown? Or the Kentucky Derby?”
“Perhaps the Kentucky Derby, ma’am.”
“Oh well, you should Google it.”
“I will, ma’am, but only after I get off work. We do not have much internet access here on the job.”
“When do you get off work, Nenita?”
“In a few minutes, ma’am.”
“What time is it there?”
“About quarter to six in the morning, ma’am. I work the graveyard shift.”
“When do you sleep?”
“For about four hours when I get home, ma’am. I am a single mom of a four year old boy. I want to be with him as much as I can.”
“Heavens! And how many languages does he speak?”
“Two, ma’am. Are the satellite settings resetting now? It should only take a few more minutes.”
While I waited, I learned that Filipino is a Spanish-Creole based language as the country was colonized by the Spaniards in the 1500s and named for their king, Philip II. Comprised of an archipelago of over 7,000 islands, the Philippines boasts some 99 million inhabitants, making it the seventh-most populated country in Asia and the 12th most populated country in the world. It’s a powerhouse for cellular service, tropical beaches and active volcanoes.



“What are your thoughts about climate change?," I asked, remembering the tsunami that struck her country last November claiming thousands of lives. I wondered if she thought it existed or not.
It definitely exists, she said. Take for example the weather today, and she proceeded to detail its idiosyncratic behavior. “It is certain that we are impacting the planet. It is also certain that to change this, we all must come together.” 
“Can we do that, Nenita? Can we change?

"Of course we can.  If we all work together to achieve something bigger than ourselves."

If we are around as a planet in 100 years, what will we be doing? "
“We will all be individually flying,” she replied with total assurance.
“Wouldn’t the skies be terribly crowded?”
She laughed, a tinkly sort of laugh, like a stream trickling over smooth stones.  
“Probably so. But scientists must already be working on that kind of thing. After all, all change is brought by an idea. In time the idea takes shape. People then come together with action around this idea. Momentum builds, and change takes place. It’s always like this…Is your picture restored yet?”
Smitten by her thoughts, I hadn’t noticed the face of  sports commentator Bob Costas looming from my screen.
“It is!!”  
“That is very good, Mrs. Thomas. Is there anything else I can help you with?”
Her use of “Mrs. Thomas” suddenly struck me as odd. In fifteen minutes of conversation, I had connected with her as a fellow human being who is living a daily life, as am I, trying to thrive.
“No, thank you.”
 “She hesitated. “Thank you for your interest in my country. Isnt it  amazing that we can speak to one another from around the globe, work together on repairing a piece of equipment in your house, and exchange so many thoughts about our world?”  The tinkly laugh followed.
Yes, technology is an amazing in how it connects us all. Thank you so for your help. And for talking with me. Ive really enjoyed it. Now go home, and get some sleep.  And, do me a favor, please?”
“What’s that?, ma’am?”
“Hug your little boy. Hes got a lovely mother.”
“I will, Mrs. Thomas. Thank you. And thank you again for calling Direct TV.”
Just in time. The horses were parading in front of the grand stand. I joined my husband on the couch. 
Change. Will it ever take place in the racing industry?  I envision a day when we will have a nationwide race day medications policy. There will be a racing commissioner over the entire industry. And there will be a universal, fully funded program for the aftercare of racehorses.

People tell me repeatedly that none of this is possible. That everything and everybody is too entrenched in their fiefdoms of self-interest.  Really? I say. Rome fell. The Berlin Wall was torn down. The Soviet Union disintegrated.

But, I admit, keeping clear vision day to day takes effort. My rosy picture gets smudged, dimmed, or frozen in place. That’s when I head to the barn. For me its like unplugging everything, holding down buttons, and resetting the system.  In a snuffle or two from a grateful horse, I will know, again, that all things can be changed if we can all come together and commit to an idea that is bigger than ourselves... 
The starting gate clanged open. Horses surged onto the track.
Things happen because of all of those who stand in the shadows making it so.  Let’s make change happen in the TB industry!
Thanks, Nenita, for restoring my picture.
Cheery bye,
Susanna