Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Nurse the Hate: Herr Trump

You remember when there was this glimmer of hope that Trump would rise to the challenge of the office and all those scary parts of his personality were chalked up to him pretending to be someone else for TV cameras?  It is sort of like how we used to have that argument about George W. being very intelligent in private, and even if he wasn’t, it was OK because he had “really smart people around him”.  Yeah.  That didn’t work out either.  Now we discover that there is no denying the fact that a Nazi/KKK sympathizer is in the office of president.  Way to “shake it up” America!

It’s really amazing what Trump did today.  I can’t think of any historical precedent in modern times.  I have no idea how someone in government doesn’t publicly come out against white supremacists.  Could there be any easier thing to do?  There is literally no one but David Duke that would be pissed off if you said, “Nazis are not good”.  Shit, even if you personally thought Nazis were swell, one would think that common sense would have you march to the podium and clearly say “Nazis are bad!”.  Not this guy.  Nope.  We now have a president that is making excuses for Nazis. 

Trump’s moral vacancy knows no limits.  Whenever you think you hit bottom with him, the submarine keeps dropping down.  The man is completely reprehensible.  Whatever Faustian bargain people have made for having him in charge, it’s too high a price.  There is no possible comeback here.  “Yeah but the stock market is going great!”  Fuck off.  He’s a Nazi.  “I like his tough talk on foreign relations!” Fuck off.  He is a KKK sympathizer.  “He is an outsider!”  Yeah he is.  He’s a racist creep that doesn’t seem to think there is anything wrong with Nazis marching with torches chanting anti-Jewish slogans in Virginia. 

I am sure by the time I wake up tomorrow the Goebbels Wing of Fox News will have already cooked up some slant for this total unprecedented presidential meltdown.  My gut tells me they will go for something along the lines of “Well, the newly coined term of Alt Left, which is meant to normalize the Nazi shit we have going on over here with what we call the Alt Right, really caused all the problems in Virginia just like President Trump said.  Look at the video!  President Trump is just protecting Free Speech and doesn’t really like what they stand for!  In fact, he condemned it on Sunday with that teleprompter speech he read emotionlessly!”

This is complete horseshit.  If you march around waving Nazi flags and talk about “Blood and Soil” and focusing hate on Jews/blacks, you’ve got an asskicking coming.  The entire planet fought those ideas in 1939-1945.  Those assholes showed up in town doing the two things they love.  1.  Playing army in their camo Army/Navy store gear while 2. Holding assault rifles via absurdly granted permits for carrying them in public places.  Those guys came looking for a fight and anyone engaged in that behavior is going to get one.  I am glad that someone stood up to them.  They are bullies and fools. 

Yet, Trump went out of his way to excuse the behavior of the white supremacy extremists.  It’s like when your grandfather is standing at a wedding reception with a couple whiskies in him and drops The N Word all over the place.  It’s out there now, and now you know sweet old Grandpa Jim is a fucking creep.  You can’t shut that Pandora’s Box.  That’s the deal with Trump now.  We can’t pretend we don’t know his real thoughts.  Grandpa melted down at the podium today and now we know he’s a racist and Nazi sympathizer.  Let’s all acknowledge all his dog whistle talk of “Us” and “Them” in the campaign for what is clearly was; racist jingles meant to signal to these fringe groups that he was on board with their message.  Let’s call it for what it is.  We have a white supremacist as president.  Donald Trump is the most dangerous man of our times.  He is here to divide us for his own personal gain.  He is unfit to serve this position.  He must be removed from office at all costs.  Forget ISIS, North Korea, Russia, etc…  Donald Trump is the biggest threat to America.  

Monday, August 14, 2017

Nurse the Hate: Retirement Plan

Today my workday brought me to a retirement community.  It was a very well done community, artfully landscaped and serene.  Like all retirement communities I had ever been to, it was completely devoid of any life or activity.  The air conditioning hummed. The attendant at the lobby desk smiled at me when I walked in, quickly returning to her computer screen.  My shoes made muffled steps on the soft carpet.  It was like a hotel in low season in the early afternoon between check out/check in.  It was not the attractive seniors having fun like in the brochure.  Perhaps they were all out at the $9.54 shopping outing at Wal Mart I saw advertised on the bulletin board.  

As I walked around I once again noted that I fear ending in a place like this.  I don’t think I will fit into a place like this.  There is no way I will be allowed to play my music at the volume I will require to hear it.  After all these years of playing rock, I already have a permanent humming in my ears and require turning the TV up to the “Why do you have the TV so loud?” setting.  I always feel badly for anyone in the next room from me at a hotel if I decide to watch TV until I fall asleep.  They must be thinking, “Why the hell won’t that guy turn that off?  Is he really watching Fast & Furious 8?”  (I’m not.  I probably fell asleep to “Rushmore” an hour earlier.)

I have a hard time picturing myself sitting in the retirement home lobby hoping that the shuttle will whisk me to Wal Mart.  I see myself in out of style dress pants with those white trainer type shoes with the Velcro straps.  My hands nervously finger my $9.54 bus ticket fee, as I fear missing the trip because of not having the fare.  Once at Wal Mart I will buy things I don’t need or want like family sized bars of soap, scented candles and enormous tins of popcorn.  I will then leave my precious bag of goodies on the shuttle bus until a woman employee that speaks in a high voice as if she is speaking to a child returns it to my room.  No, that’s not for me.

The good news is that the current lifestyle I have embraced leaves almost no chance of assisted living style old age.  The Miller genetics also don’t play into my favor.  I had a plan for old age anyway.  Like some type of sign, it appeared to me this morning like a pre-retirement home visit warning.  This morning I saw one of those crappy campers that rest on top of a pickup truck.  It was old, damaged, and seedy.  Even looking at it, you knew it smelled like mildew.  It was also “For Sale”.  We had termed those “heart attack campers” in the band van years ago.  The idea is you hit the road once you become essentially friendless in your town.  There, out in the highway in the middle of nowhere, you will suffer a massive coronary and slump over the wheel.  The vehicle will slowly come to a stop when it rolls off the road.  This is why it will be important to limit drifting on the interstate highways in flat states like Kansas, Iowa, and Nebraska.  West Virginia or Colorado would be quite messy in this scenario.

This “limited retirement idea” planning is quite new.  I can’t believe I am still here.  I had considered my most likely cause of death for years to be from a van crash when Leo was driving.  I saw the scenario unfolding like a late night drive after a gig on I-77 outside Charleston.  I am fighting sleep in the shotgun seat and finally give in to the pull.  I feel relaxed and serene.  Something feels wrong and I wake slightly.  I look to my left and see the blissfully sleeping Leo, his hands on the wheel and the speed set at 78 mph on the cruise control as we shoot off the side of a mountain.  He would, of course, survive the crash without a scratch.  I would be horribly maimed and live an additional excruciatingly painful 18 months in a backwater West Virginia health center where lots of guys in beards would poke their heads in my room and whisper to the nurses “Oh my Gawd!  What happened to he-im?” as they gape openly at me.

My next logical cause of death is obviously from a hail of bullets from law enforcement.  I would be waving around my manifesto and screaming into a bullhorn some conspiracy theory involving Area 51, the G-20 Summit and The Illuminati.  I definitely see hostages involved, probably softly crying as I try to explain to them that “I’m not the bad guy here!” even as it dawns of me that I am the bad guy since I am the one with hostages in the first place.  When the barrage of bullets gets me, my manifesto will be released from the grasp of my hand and the papers will scatter with the winds.  (Note to self, bind manifesto before taking hostages and buying bullhorn.)

I suppose my next move is to call the guy with that camper for sale and place that into storage.  I could refer to it as “My Retirement Plan”.  When I am ready, I can begin to drive around the Midwest in it while spending nights drinking cheap whiskey and typing out my manifesto.  That will put me in position to achieve my last goals, whether that turns out to be slowly rolling to a stop with my corpse behind the wheel or with the camper parked outside “my last stand” wherever that turns out to be when my manifesto is complete.  To be fair, I could also save some money and get ready for that Wal Mart shuttle at the retirement home.  They probably have typing paper and a binding machine at Wal Mart.  It was quiet there.  Good place to write a manifesto.       

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Nurse the Hate: See You At The Apocalypse!

I have said it before and I will say it again.,  In retrospect, it might have been a mistake to have elected a completely unqualified reality TV show star as president.  That argument of “I think we should have an amateur involved so we can shake it up” is not looking as strong now as it did during those fun TV speeches.  Well, that is unless your idea of “shaking it up” was World War III.  If so, it’s looking up for you!  While rationale human beings attempt to work out a complicated problem, Our Leader doesn’t have the interest or ability to understand the situation.  He thinks the move is to yell “No, I will kick YOUR ass!” via Twitter from his country club.  He is approaching the North Korea situation like a 15 year old would a rival from a competitive high school.

It’s time to look at the bright side.  If we are going to have a nuclear apocalypse, I think we should do it right.  I think the timing of this upcoming solar eclipse will be absolutely perfect.  Even deported Mayans would have to buy into the idea of the sun vanishing followed immediately by a blinding flash and everything being on fire.  It has all the makings of an outstanding Judgement Day complete with Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.  I hope my entire Trump voting county will head on outside in their “Make America Great” hats and continue to tell me how awesome Trump is as the flesh of their children melt off their bones.  I feel confident that even as local families burst into flames, hopefully after watching millions of Koreans die live on Fox News, that their final words will be “Trump is still doing a great job!  Hillary would NEVER have done an apocalypse this well!”.  My final thoughts will be “God dammit, why won’t they ever admit they are wrong?” and then “Fuck, being on fire really sucks!”.    

Trump does not seem to do anything well with the exception of giving those Thousand Year Reich speeches to his base.  I watched the first 15 minutes of the last one in Youngstown.  He spent a great deal of time talking about how “they” keep treating “us” unfairly.  In case you are confused, “us” appears to be “white people”.  He also was very vocal about how unfair the media was to him to the roar of the Monster Truck looking crowd.  The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, and NBC (or everyone but the right wing agenda formatted Fox News) is not being fair for ostensibly revealing facts that make Trump look badly.  Trump tells lies.  The media fact checks.  Trump gets crazy because they reveal he is lying.  He goes crazy and lies some more.  Repeat.

Trump does not appear to know anything about anything.  It’s worse than anyone would have guessed.  He makes George W. look like Noam Chomsky.  Trump has no actual policies or plan.   He is the ultimate example of the Peter Principle in which someone rises to the level of his incompetence.  He is shockingly inept, acting strictly on misguided impulse.  He is winging it with all of our lives in his hands.  I feel like I am strapped into a school bus that is being driven by a drunk that just took three hits of PCP and is screaming at invisible bats flying at the windshield.  There is no escape unless either the soulless vampires of the GOP discover their civic duty and act to remove him, or the glacial wheels of the Russian investigation finally link the Russian money, meetings, and bizarre protectionist relationship to Trump.  Perhaps the only hope is that our soft orange blob of a president blows his back out on the golf course and has to remain sedated until 2020.  If not, enjoy some more “winning”.   See YOU at the apocalypse.  

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Nurse the Hate: Gustav Steiner

I had not seen my old friend Jim since my early years of college.  Jim was a bit of an odd bird, which is frankly why I liked him.  He came from one of those childhoods where the parents didn’t have a TV so he didn’t understand any cultural references made by his peers.  I think his parents met on a commune in Vermont.  He was vegetarian when that blew people’s minds.  He was always into Eastern mysticism and weird religious off shoots.  I remember him being fascinated by the Rastafarians, and for three months straight I heard nothing but Marley and Peter Tosh coming from his room.  He always seemed to be just about ready to come apart at the seams.  I fell out of touch with him after awhile, our lives taking divergent paths.  It was a surprise to see him this week.  Not just for the gap in time in which we had not seen each other either.

I saw him in a hotel lobby downtown.  It was odd because I didn’t recognize him at first.  What caught my attention was a man in business attire pushing a wheelbarrow filled with large rocks across the marble lobby.  He didn’t appear to be involved with construction, so I stared to try and figure it out.  Why does that guy in the executive slacks have a wheelbarrow?  Noticing that I knew the guy with the wheelbarrow was an afterthought.  "Jim?"

Indeed it was Jim.  We exchanged pleasantries and “so, where you working now?”s.  We exchanged the obligatory “East or Westside?” question.  He was working for a doomed educational group focused on underprivileged kids with a name I immediately forgot.  Then I asked him “What’s with the wheelbarrow?”.  He gave a little laugh and said “Oh, I’m a Steiner.  You know about that, right?”.  No Jim.  No, I don’t know about that.  I almost wished I hadn’t asked.

Gustav Steiner led a puritanical off shoot of Lutheranism sometime in the mid 1800s.  Steiner had this idea that man needed to cleanse himself of all of his mortal sins and mistakes while on earth to prepare for the afterlife.  One needed to take responsibility and atone for mistakes in the eyes of the Lord.  When a person made a mistake of some kind, they were then required to carry the weight of the size of that error as a burden.  Large mistakes equaled large weights while smaller, yet still noteworthy mistakes, required smaller stones to match up with the scale of the mistake.  Only when that person had somehow righted their mistake could they remove that weight from their load.  The goal was to reach no weight at the time of death, thus insuring entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven. 

Jim had met some people at some “retreat” that were investigating Steinerism. He said that weekend “totally changed my life.  You should look into it.”  He said there was a small congregation in Northeast Ohio, and in fact, most large sized cities had groups of some kind.  That seemed impossible I hadn’t noticed this, but then again how often do you pay attention to someone pushing a wheelbarrow?  He said that different factions differed in the specifics of the stone carrying, but he was part of a sect that was very strict.  “I wanted to be pure.”  Of course he did.  He was a white kid that grew dreads, so I have no doubt the most extreme form of Steinerism attracted him.

I looked down at this wheelbarrow and saw a couple of stones the size of small bowling balls.  In addition to those were a variety of decent sized rocks all arranged around the larger pair.  It had to be about 60 pounds of rocks.  “So let me get this right Jim.  You push this wheelbarrow of rocks with you everywhere you go.  Like if you go to a restaurant, you bring the wheelbarrow?”  He seemed oddly serene, almost drugged.  “That’s right.  It’s my burden.  If I can right those two biggest wrongs, I could probably get by with a backpack.  That is why I am trying to right those as fast as I can.”

The wheelbarrow was set down in the middle of the lobby.  We both looked at it.  I really wanted to know what the big rocks represented.  I knew he saw me staring at those rocks and wondering.  “One of those big ones is how I failed with my daughter.  She lives with my ex-wife in Oregon now.  The other was a failure of character.  I failed someone who loved me.”  He looked at me and smiled.  I broke his glance.  We both stared at the rocks like when one guy is explaining an unseen issue with a car to another.  

Let me be honest.  I felt very uncomfortable like I was talking to someone that had left Scientology only to double down with the Manson Family.  I don’t know if this guy was technically crazy, but hauling around 60 pounds of rocks while going to eat “endless appetizers” at TGIFridays didn’t seem sane.  Did he go to Indians games with that thing?  Did he have to drive a truck?  Who decided the size of the rock?  Who decided when he could drop the rock? Where did it go then?  To someone else?  Could you dispute the size of the rock?  I was fascinated but didn’t want to get in too deep.  If I seemed too interested he would probably knock me out with a chloroform rag and I would wake up chained to an enormous wheelbarrow of stones somewhere on the Eastside.  The last thing I need is to have to haul 176 pounds of rocks everywhere I go.  No, I needed to get out of this…

Hey man, it was great to see you!  We should get a drink sometime!  “I would love that.”  I will call you at work…  Or just message me on Facebook or something.  (Nice and vague…  That was the way to go here.)  I turned to walk towards my meeting.  I heard him give a small grunt and begin to push the wheelbarrow towards the elevator.  He was still sort of the same guy I guess.  It was me that had probably changed.  I hoped he was able to figure a way out to stop carrying those rocks.  Well, the big ones at least.  It seemed like quite a burden.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Nurse the Hate: Job Offer

Hi Greg,
I have an opening for a Assembly / Warehouse with The Hen House in Norwalk, OH that I thought may interest you. If you'd like to proceed or learn more about this opportunity please follow the link below:
Assembly / Warehouse
The Hen House
  • The Hen House located in Norwalk, Ohio is looking to fill an assembly/warehouse position.
  • This is primarily an assembly position with warehouse activity.
  • Duties may include assemble framing pieces, Christmas tree assembly, check in arriving purchase orders, move inventory to work zones and between buildings, light maintenance in and around building, and loading and unloading shipments.
  • Applicants must have prior tow motor and standard shift truck experience.
  • Must be able to use a screw gun, drill, staple and pneumatic staplers.
Thanks for taking your time with this. If you feel this would be a better fit for someone you know please pass this message along.

Johnson Jobs
15133 Kercheval Ave
Grosse Pointe Park, MI 48230


Hi JJ,

I received your email about the position in assembly at The Hen House with great interest.  You clearly have a great idea of what I bring to the table for a potential employer and have really struck a bullseye with this exciting opportunity.  Despite having more than two decades of experience as a marketing expert and winning a great number of sales awards in broadcast media/professional sports sponsorship sales, I will admit a certain interest in turning my back on this lucrative position and taking my place amongst those assembling and shipping Christmas decorations.  A few quick questions:

* As the job entails assembling Christmas Trees, is there an expectation of wearing holiday clothing like an Elf costume?  If so, would this be provided by the company or would I be expected to create my own?  I will be up front with you and admit I have limited experience in wearing boots with curved toes popular with elves such as I have seen on the landmark holiday special "Rudolf The Red Nosed Reindeer".

*  Is there holiday music piped in, or will I be expected to sing carols in the manner of the gregarious and hard working elves on the aforementioned "Rudolf" documentary?

*  I have limited experience with screw guns, drills, and pneumatic staplers.  Is there a kindly older man there that would take me under his wing and demonstrate these tools while perhaps demonstrating "the true spirit of Christmas"?

*  I DO have tow motor experience but it ended in disaster as I plowed the tow motor into a palate of eggs and dairy in the back storage area of a Columbus area Kroger in 1986.  That was the last opportunity I had to run a tow motor as the store manager, Herman Manus, instructed the other more seasoned employees to "not let that dipshit near the tow motor again".  I feel like I could learn from that misfortune and become adept at the tow motor in the future though.  I just need the chance.

Holiday Regards,

Greg Miller

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Nurse the Hate: Hate Camping

 It is  very well documented that I do not like camping.  This is because I am a sensible man.  I see no reason to leave my shelter for a shoddy tent in the wilderness.  As I recall from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, “shelter” comes right after “food” in the laundry list for survival.  It’s hard to worry about “self actualization” if you are being bitten in the eye by a snake.  Let’s not even get into the toilet scenarios.  I am a firm believer that the only reason to be emptying my bowels into a terrifying port a john is if I am in an internment camp or perhaps in a pinch after having eaten Indian street food.  There is no chance under normal circumstances that I will be stooped over in the woods like a feral dog.  For God's sake, I am a Star Club Premium Rewards Member!  Thus, it was a rare experience to find myself camping last Saturday night.

Now "camping" means many things to many people.  I have heard people talk about "camping" in regards to driving enormous motor homes to corporate run lots with water and electric hookups.  This is not camping.  It is sleeping in a parking lot in your big car.  I have also heard people refer to camping as staying in a luxurious tent that has been set up by minions that looks like the Pottery Barn catalogue barfed out onto a State Park.  This is also not camping.  It's still awful but not camping.  While obviously not roughing it, it still holds no appeal for me.  I turned down an offer cold of being taken down the Grand Canyon via pack mule like a Maharashtra to my four star quality condo tent where a team of servants would cater to my every whim.  The bottom line is I didn't want to go to a common latrine.  No thanks.  That’s still just too close to camping for my liking.

Yet I found myself last weekend struggling to put up a tent in the woods with Leo and Sugar in the western NY wilderness.  It was a gig in the woods, an extraordinarily fun party that led me to break my anti camping ban.  As I am so adamantly anti camping, this should give you an idea of how good the party is.  Let’s be honest.  I bring almost nothing beneficial when it comes to setting up a campsite.  I gave it what I had though.  I'm a good guy for the "hold onto that pole while I pound these stakes in" sort of help.  Somehow, we got a tent up and tossed in our meager supplies.  I had a sleeping bag and a bottle of water.  That's all my camping supplies.  I have a Swiss Army knife, but it's the one with the corkscrew on it, so I don't think that is much help unless you are camping with Robert Mondavi. I’m like a shivering little lamb out in the woods.  This is why in certain circles I am known as "Lamby". 

Quick factoid…  The last three times I have camped has been at this party over the span of 10 years or so.  Each of these three camping experiences has gone exactly as follows:  We play the show.  We drink a bunch of beers while we play.  Someone offers us psychedelics after the show.  I sensibly don't take them as it is 11:30 at night.  It seems like a bad idea to worry about my face melting off at 445am when everyone else went to sleep two hours earlier.  As I am not 20 years old any longer, or at a Jerry Garcia Band show, I am not in need of having my mind re-arranged.  I have enough problems.  I lean towards the “two beers after the show/shit talk by a campfire” game plan.  This is NOT the game plan followed by all members of the rock band.

It is usually within 20-35 minutes after our set that I lose Leo.  I would categorize Leo at this party as a junkyard dog that is trotting around the woods looking to see what he can get into.  This leads to the exact same scenario all three times I have camped.  It is about 4am.  I can hear Leo and whatever new friends he has made at the party walking down a path towards our tent.  Someone else sleeping in the tent will also wake up and hiss out a warning.  “I think that’s Leo!”  He is always in full life-of-the-party mode with a heavy cackling laugh.  It is literally the last thing you want in your tent at 4 am after already sleeping for a couple of hours.  Thus, I always shout/whisper “Shut the fuck up!  He’ll hear you!”.  The voices begin to come closer.  No one in the tent dares to move a muscle.  It’s like a horror movie where I am staring at the tent flap zipper, swallowing my Adam’s apple down, hoping beyond hope I don’t see that zipper move and knowing The Monster might enter.  All three times he has failed to recognize the tent and kept walking, a heavy sigh let out when the coast is clear.

Morning wake up comes with the sun.  It is ungodly early.  This means I have slept on the hard ground for about 3 hours total.  I couldn’t be less refreshed.  I make old man noises when I sit up like “uhhh… owww… ahhhh…”  If I had my druthers I would abandon the campsite completely, climb in the van and drive away.  Fuck the tent.  Fuck the sleeping bag.  See you later.  I am driving to a Marriot.  Instead, the worst part of camping then ensues.  Breaking down the camp.  The very last thing I want to do after three restless hours of sleep is to take on chores.  Yet, the only way I can get out of the woods is to shoulder the burden of trying to pack the enormous tent into the tiny storage bag.  It never works correctly.  I half ass it and then haul the stuff back to the van.  I just toss whatever shit was with us into the back of the van to worry about it later.  Then comes the most difficult part of camping.  Finding Leo.

There are about 300 people crashed out in tents sleeping off a dizzying array of recreational drugs and booze.  Inside one of these is Leo.  Well, that is if he isn't still up holding court by the fire.  Another real possibility is that he fell off the gorge in which case fishing his body out of the creek and hauling it up the cliff is way too much work for 8 o'clock in the morning.  We would have to leave it for the coyotes or whatever else might eat a decomposing drummer.  I think we would return later to place a tasteful memorial stone, so don't think me too callous.

I try to listen for the tell tale Leo wheezing coming from a tent.  I can't poke my head in too close or I will be accused of being some sort of peeping Tom cowboy.  God knows what kind of frontier justice would be carried out in that situation.  It is interesting to think that now the tables have turned.  Leo is undoubtedly in a tent hoping not to hear my footsteps outside.  The hunter has become the hunted.  When Dad finds him, the party is over.  Somewhere he wheezes the wheeze of the innocent.  The cheetah must find this wounded gazelle.

Somehow we always find him.  Each time it is exactly the same.  It's always by pure chance.  Someone is leaving a tent and the exposed flap reveals an evil leprechaun.  Or maybe he just walks out into a clearing like a pasty Sasquatch sighting.  He always looks tip top.  I am the exact opposite.  Every muscle in my back is remarkably sore.  I have an ache behind my eyes from lack of sleep.  The back of my skull seems barely attached to my neck.  I want to shower and re-set.  Meanwhile he emerges from those same woods, fresh as a daisy.  He's all smiles.  Crisp.  Ready to go.  I want a clean toilet and he more than likely shit in the woods like a bear and wiped his ass with leaves.  He is a man made for the woods.  In Man vs Nature, he has scored a triumphant win.  Me?  I have lost.  Again.  Man, I hate camping.     

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Nurse the Hate: The Doctor Will See You Now

He sat in one of the two chairs in the physician’s office.  The room was devoid of stimuli with the exception of a plastic model of an inner ear.  He thought about picking it up and inspecting it more closely but paused when he thought about the number of infected hands that must have touched it while waiting to be seen just as he was doing now.  He placed both hands on his legs, sat upright, and waited.  The back of his neck hurt and there was a high pitched ringing in his ears.  Things were looking up.  He wasn’t seeing white spots dancing across his vision.

The door burst open and a chunky woman in a white lab coat entered.  She said her name and title in a flurry without making any eye contact.  “What seems to be the problem today?” she asked while staring at his chart.  He had filled out a lengthy questionnaire in the waiting room a half hour earlier that explained his symptoms quite clearly.  Despite knowing it was pointless he asked what had happened to the information he had provided on the questionnaire.  “Oh, that…  Well, why don’t you just tell me again.” She answered without glancing at him.

He methodically described the worsening of symptoms over the last three weeks.  She stopped him halfway through his well practiced story.  “Do you or any member of your family have a history of heart disease?”  As one in four people die of heart disease, he didn’t think it was noteworthy when he responded “yes”.  Yet it set off a spasm of activity from the woman as she entered data into the computer in front of her.  She then ensued with her barrage of questions.  “Do you drink alcohol?”  Yes.  “How often?”  He knew a friend that had answered that question honestly by responding with “22 beers a week”.  After a gasp from the physician, his insurance premium was substantially raised.  No, honesty was not the best policy.  He answered “a few drinks a week” to vaguely describe his decades long binge drinking system.  The woman moved on despite both of them knowing he was lying.

“Do you use tobacco?”  You mean like if I have a snuff box?  She stared at him.  “Is that a yes?”  No… No I don’t use tobacco.  She let out a sigh and typed rapidly, already tired of him.  “Do you feel safe in your home?”  Excuse me?  “Do you feel safe in your home?  Do you feel at risk?”  He had a steady diet of cable TV news.  He was currently afraid of (in order) climate change, North Korea’s advancing nuclear capabilities, Isis, sun exposure, hurricane risk, ebola, black mold, and lyme disease.  He didn't exactly feel safe at home, but he knew if he answered anything else but "yes I feel safe", he would likely be taken away to some sort of holding cell for observation.  

The woman typed rapidly.  “OK.  The doctor will see you shortly.”  She closed the screen containing his chart and left the room.  He stared straight ahead trying not to think about the plastic ear model to his left.  The back of his skull throbbed.  The white spots came back.  The last time he had been in this office was a year ago.  He had forgotten about the appointment until the last minute.  He had knocked back a double espresso shortly before arriving.  When his blood pressure was taken, the nurse asked if he “felt ok”.  When he asked why, she had responded with “normally when we see someone’s blood pressure that high, they are on a gurney.”  That had resulted in a battery of inconclusive heart exams that he was still trying to pay off.   

After another 20 minutes of waiting, the doctor arrived.  She gave him a grim smile that insinuated the upcoming exchange would be pleasant but professional.  “What seems to be the problem today?”  He began again at the beginning.  Each question he had previously answered in the lobby questionnaire and asked by the chunky woman was answered again.  The doctor asked him to remove his shirt.  She poked him in various parts of his body.  Finally she removed her rubber gloves and tossed them in the garbage can.  “You seem healthy to me."  There was a pause.  "Try and get more sleep.”  She typed into the computer as he put his shirt back on.  The doctor left the examination room.   The back of his head hurt.  There was a ringing in his ears.  He saw spots.  He opened the door and left the doctor’s office.