Specializing in Fear

By Jim Hagarty

I have a problem with authority. And authority figures. Childhood thing, I think.

This character defect is behind the four times in my life that I have been fired from a job. My Dad always said every good man should be fired three times so I have done him one better. I must be a great man.

Unfortunately, the authority figures I fear the most wear white coats and are gainfully employed as medical specialists. And now that I am well into my seventh decade of wandering aimlessly around this planet, I find I am encountering medical specialists more often than seems desirable.

With most of the specialists I see from time to time, I am able to play it fairly cool and disguise my terror. I smile, use a little humour and am suitably deferential. But there is one guy who scares the pants off me.

Now some specialists order me to take my pants off and this man is not in that business. Nevertheless, I stand before him every time as though I was in line for approval by an admissions committee at a nudist colony.

I don’t know exactly what it is about this specialist that has me dreading appointments with him months in advance. But I think it has something to do with the fact that he was apparently born without a sense of humour. And he was endowed with an overabundance of ability to be sarcastic.

He is not the least bit shy about scolding me, as though I was a two-year-old, slumping in my high chair. In fact, he has actually, sternly and loudly ordered me to sit up straight in my chair.

“I told you to sit still,” he has remarked.

“Look straight ahead!” he has said. “I did not say look to your left.”

I went to see him on Monday and could hardly sleep Sunday night, waiting for the encounter which was scheduled for 10 a.m. I was up and showering at 8 a.m., fully two hours ahead of the appointment at an office a five-minute drive from my house. I showed up a half hour early.

Finally, he came to the waiting room and called my name, directing me to one of his examination rooms and ordering me to sit in the “chair on the right”, or at least that is what I thought he mumbled. I walked into the room and panicked. There were three chairs there. It was hard to tell which one was the one on the right. I chose the one in the middle and fortunately, I guess, chose the right one.

He came in and barked out a few questions which I tried to answer without fainting. Then, as he always does, he asked me to tell him what medications I am taking. He may as well have asked me to read out the alphabet to him backwards, skipping every second letter. Or to recite to him the table of minerals, if there is such a thing. I couldn’t remember the name of even one pill.

However, trying to be helpful, I said, “Actually, I did what you told me to do last time and went and got a wallet-sized printout showing my medications from the pharmacy.”

“Well, where is it?” he asked.

“It’s in my wallet. In the car.”

“So, when you show up at emergency some day, and they ask for this information, you’ll tell them it’s in the car?”

I slithered out of the chair in a puddle and oozed under his desk.

I would ask my family doctor for another specialist but I would have to drive 40 miles for appointments and for all his abruptness, I know that my guy is one of the best around.

Besides, I’d just be terrorized by a new specialist is all. Because it is not their problem; it’s mine.

I just hate anyone telling me what to do.

Author: Jim Hagarty

I am a 65-year-old retired journalist, busy recovering from a lifelong career as an unretired journalist. This year marks a half century of my scratching out little fables about life. My interests include genealogy, humour and music. I live in a little blue shack in Canada and spend most of my time trying to stay out of trouble. I am not that good at it. I also spent years teaching journalism. Poor state of journalism today: My fault. I have a family I don't deserve, a dog that adores me, and two cars the junk yard refuses to accept. My prized possessions include my old guitar and a razor my Dad gave me when I was 14 and which I still use when I bother to shave. Oh, and my great-great-grandfather's blackthorn stick he brought from Ireland in the 1850s. I have only one opinion but it is a good one: People take too many showers.

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