“Charlie!” Luna pounced as soon as I arrived at the clinic. “Come! I need to talk with you!”
Immediately, I started running through everything that might have gone wrong. Was it the tests? I was sure that I’d left the incubator at the correct setting. Had I left it unplugged? Maybe I’d entered the records wrong yesterday. Oh, I bet I forgot to log out of the computer. It was the tests, I was sure of it. Something had gone horribly wrong with the samples.
“I’ll do better next time!” I said.
“The tests are perfect–revolutionary. But that’s not what I wanted to talk with you about. Well, I do. Just not first thing. First thing is: Congratulations!”
Congratulations? Turns out I’d won an award, and the person who nominated me had called the clinic to notify them. The Edgar Evans Community Service award is given to those who are helping to make the world a better place.
“But why do I get it?” I asked Luna. “I mean, I’m grateful. I’m just not sure I’m worthy!”
If anyone at the clinic should get the award, Luna or Eva should. They’re the ones who’ve been serving as doctors in this community for years.
“Now about the results of your experiments,” Luna began.
Luna freed my schedule from doing rounds. She said it was more important for me to work on my tests. She’d looked at the results briefly during her break, and what she noticed was remarkable: Agaricon, a very rare polypore, was wiping out the poxviruses. Not only that, Lentinan, PSK, and possibly a few of the other active mushroom compounds seemed to be hindering the adherence of viruses to host cells.
“This is important work, Charlie,” she said. “You stick with this, and you’re going to be earning a whole lot of other awards, too. Not to mention, preventing illnesses!”
I checked the samples. She was right! The mushroom complexes had slowed the growth of the viruses, and in some cases, completely eradicated them!
This was exciting stuff.
Before I knew it, the day was over. I wanted to stay and keep working on my report, but the last ferry waits for no one, not even a scientist hot on the trail of the antiviral fungus!
As I was leaving, the receptionist called me over. “Dr. Capricciosa left this for you,” she said. It was a typed letter. I read it quickly–I’d been promoted!
I was feeling pretty good when I got home–tired, but happy-tired. So many good things: the award, the promotion, and most of all, the exciting results from the lab.
I could hardly wait to share the lab results with Tia Berry. I wondered if she knew that it wasn’t just the echinacea and goldenseal but also the mushrooms in her remedies that had the power to knock out illness.
I wondered if I needed to tell Mãe, Tia Berry, and Pai about the award. For some reason, I felt bashful about having received it. I didn’t really feel like I’d done anything to deserve it.
I mean, I’ve got faith in myself and my abilities–especially after the results of the test. But I just don’t feel that I’ve proved myself yet. In twenty years, after I’ve had a chance to make some changes–give me an award then!
I’d looked over my nominator’s acceptance speech, which included his reasons for nominating me. He mentioned my involvement in the Wonder Child program, as well as having founded Paint! and my decision to become a doctor.
None of these things seem special. I was in the program because Mãe needed health insurance. I formed Paint! so I could meet with other artists and kindred spirits. I want to be a doctor because I don’t like for other people to feel sick. It’s none of it rocket science, which is how the award originated, recognizing an astronaut’s contributions to his community. In fact, my nominator, the famous Daddy Bear, was an astronaut, too.
“Don’t look a gift horse,” I thought, with gratitude. I’d have to write an acceptance speech and nominate the next recipient. In doing so, I could turn this fluke into something good, if I can find the right words for my speech, and if I select a recipient who’s working for a cause that needs more attention.
It’s a good thing, after all, and it came on a day that was full of good things. I crawled into bed, feeling tired and a little flushed. Unexpected success, especially when it comes in threes, can really wear a guy out!