Funny the World...


May 13, 2000

It was one of those hamster-in-the-wheel kinda days, where you run and run and run and don’t really seem to get much accomplished.

The day started out with Ms. Priscilla again. We stopped at the clinic for her daily medication and then off to school for her computer class. She’s proud of being able to hunt and peck around the keyboard now, but admits that she’s a long way from being allowed to try the mouse.

Drove back home again and finally decided to get my hair cut. A hair cut is something like going to the grocery store or buying new shoes for me--I know it has to be done from time to time, I don’t mind getting it done, but I don’t really enjoy it and it just seems like such a waste of time. However, my hair had gotten much too long. We had reached the critical stage.

I don’t "do hairdressers" like some women. It’s Supercuts for me. Just chop it off to the right length and let me pay the minimum. (I do wish she had swept up the hair from the previous client before seating me in the chair today, though). Some would argue that if I paid more I’d get a better cut. But I dunno. I’ve had some terrific $8 cuts and some rotten $25 cuts.

The very best haircut I’ve ever had was free. Well, I didn’t pay any money. I almost wish I had. It was years and years ago. We were out of milk and I was making a quick run to the grocery store to pick up milk for dinner. As I entered the mall, someone came running out of the hairdressers. "Do you have naturally curly hair?" she asked. I told her that I did. She explained that they had brought in a high-priced hair stylist to demonstrate the proper way to cut naturally curly hair and their model hadn’t shown up. If I wouldn’t mind having my hair cut, they would do it for me for free.

I wasn’t going to pass up that offer!

So I went in to be a hair cutting model. I walked out half an hour later looking better than I’d ever looked, having learned a lot about "cutting to the curl" and other tricks involved with doing justice to naturally curly hair (my hair is really more naturally wavy, tending to curly than actually curly...but it does have a mind of its own). But in between my arrival and departure, I felt like crawling under a desk somewhere to hide.

Now remember I’d just rushed out for a second to get some milk. I didn’t bother to put on pantyhose, high heels, jewelry, or makeup. The fancy hair stylist starts cutting my hair and explaining what he’s doing and at some point in his explanation, I guess he ran out of hair banter because he started in on my appearance and what a crime it was that women like me would appear in public dressed so shabbily. He kept on and on, totally oblivious to the fact that my brain was under all that hair he was cutting and that my ears worked very well, thank you.

By the time he finished giving me my gorgeous $100 haircut, I felt about 2" high and slunk home without the milk. Every time I think about going to a "hair salon" or "beauty parlor" I think about that jerk and end up at Supercuts, which does a fine job for curly hair, whether it "cuts to the curl" or not.

Following my hair cut, I met a friend from my old job for lunch and learned all the continuing traumas of that place. I tell ya, I got out while the getting was good. It’s a medical office which was once one of the highest rated in the city, but then it got bought out by the big HMO, which systematically set about destroying everything good about each of the offices it gobbled up.

Over the first two years, it managed to get rid of all the office managers who were loyal to their own doctors (I was one of those managers) and replace them with "company people" who sat in their offices and did corporate stuff and to hell with actually managing the employees. It didn’t really matter by then, though, because all the good employees had been driven out too and replaced with untrained, unskilled clerical help that could be paid slightly above minimum wage.

Quality has continued to go downhill, with doctors who used to care very much not caring at all. It’s impossible to get an appointment, there is push to see more patients and put them in nonexistent time slots, the nurses now do a lot of the care that used to be done by the providers themselves--not to say the nurses aren’t qualified, but it’s yet another step removing the patient from consistent quality care. It makes me sick to see what has happened to this office of which I was once so proud. I miss my job but my job doesn’t exist any more because the office I loved is essentially gone. Oh the walls are still there and a few familiar faces are there, but the soul of it is gone. I see this happening in medicine everywhere...and how did we let it get to this point?

The few remaining caring doctors are the ones like those I work for at home. I transcribe dictation for a psychiatrist and a psychologist. The psychiatrist has been piling on the work this week because he’s leaving tomorrow to go back east for a week. I’m drowning in tapes, trying to get as many as possible finished before he boards the plane.

You can work up a sweat typing 135 words a minute and pounding out these reports.

At least I’m a bit cooler than I was yesterday because my hair is finally short again. And I don't have to deal with medical bureaucrats ever, ever again.

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created 5/13/00 by Bev Sykes