When my son was about sixteen, he had a minor skin issue and I was tasked with taking him to a dermatologist. This is no small task. While my wife blithely sits in her cushy office at work doing who-knows-what, I have to cut into my busy schedule of reading by the pool. This task involves taking my son out of school which is in itself a chore. There are two places to park at the school; filled and restricted. It might be closer if I left the car in my driveway.
Signing him out is also an experience. The amount of paperwork would be manageable if it didn’t seem like I was the first person ever to sign out a kid. Nick Nolte got Eddie Murphy out of jail more easily in 48 Hours. Since I was a serial class cutter and school cutter when I was his age, I spent my waiting time trying to figure out how to beat their system. Once a criminal…
On our way to the Doctor, James made it clear that this was a waste of his time and I agreed. I have little regard for the medical establishment of today, and I have been making headway in turning each of my kids against them as well. My wife, on the other hand is a doctor-lover and has always taken the word of anyone with a diploma on their wall over mine. James and I predict that each of the following things would take place prior to seeing the doctor:
- A lengthy wait in the waiting room
- The collection of our co-pay
- The filling out of numerous forms
- The scheduling of a follow-up (They must teach this in dermatology school)
- The solicitation to buy product
- A lengthy wait in the treatment room
As it turned out, we were correct, although the order was a little off. Of course, James made me fill out the forms as he played with his phone.
On the top of the third page of the forms, I noticed something I had never seen before. There was a blank asking for a nickname. It seemed odd to me. I never considered entering Bud, which is what we called James at home. It seemed to be almost an invasion of privacy. Still, it was too interesting for me to pass up. Thinking James was watching me, I leaned his way and wrote “Sparky” in the blank. No one had ever called him that. It was just meant to annoy him which is a favored pursuit of mine. He showed little reaction, and I moved on.
The visit by the doctor was mildly amusing as it served to annoy James. Maybe a diploma is worth something after all. Upon entering, she said, “Oh, I see why you’re here.” James was immediately inflamed. She later used the old chestnut, “There’s a fungus among us”, which I have to assume is frowned upon by the AMA. James was frowning as well. The whole episode took less than three minutes, but required a prescription and a follow-up in two weeks. Let’s see…adding all of that together and adjusting for time, this was costing me about $1400.00 per hour plus gas…and I have the Platinum Plan for my health insurance!
James and I immediately agreed to forgo the follow-up and my wife as quickly insisted that we go. Two weeks later, we repeat the process. I am sitting in the treatment room on a chair while James is on the table. The Doctor walks in with her assistant and moves to the back counter to open the chart. She turns and says, “So, Sparky, how did the medication do?” James ignores her as I have been, from the time she walked in. She repeats herself louder as though James is hard of hearing. I am momentarily confused, but quickly remember the bit from two weeks ago. It was never meant for the doctor and I am about to apologize. Before I can, James asks “Who are you talking to?” Unable to contain myself, I burst out laughing.
The doctor looks at the chart and asks James, “Aren’t you Sparky?” He sees me laughing, uncontrollably at this point, and tells the Doctor as though this should be obvious, “NO!” The Doctor, still clueless, asks, “Why is it on your chart?” Now the assistant is trying to keep from laughing out loud. I can no longer control myself and stagger out of the room. On my way out, James, red as a beet, shouts, “Obviously, he did it!”
I go to the receptionist station still laughing uncontrollably. I can barely write the check and people are gathering at the window to see if I am having some sort of attack. James stomps out a few minutes later and asks, “What is WRONG with you?” We head out to the parking lot, and I am finally able to contain myself. I explain that I wrote Sparky two weeks earlier as a minor bit and never expected it to be the best embedded bit ever. He said that the Doctor never understood what happened even though it was obvious to the assistant and to him.
He said he never saw anyone laughing so hard for so long. He wondered how someone as clueless as the Doctor could obtain a medical license. “See, this is what I’ve been trying to teach you about the medical establishment,” I said.
At least there will be no follow-up.
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