funnytheworld.gif (4077 bytes)




20 August 2003

I didn't get to WeightWatchers today. This is medical week for me. Tomorrow is my physical therapy appointment, Friday is a diabetes class, and this morning I had to go to the lab for blood tests. By the time I left the lab, the WeightWatchers meeting was half over and I was still on the other side of town, so I just decided to skip it. Next week will be my last meeting until at least the end of October.

Instead, I went to PEET's Coffee, because we are nearly out of coffee beans. We drink French Roast pretty much exclusively, unless we have none in the house. PEET's has the best French Roast I've ever had and so we've been buying it since the very first location opened up in Berkeley in 1966.

They always offer you a free cup of coffee if you spend a bazillion dollars, as we do. I rarely accept because they brew it too strong for my tastes. But since I've been keeping this Fotolog documenting all of the things I eat, I keep looking for new ways to display meals, other than just shooting plates on the top of my kitchen table. I thought it would be interesting to shoot a cup of coffee with the coffee shop in the background.

peets.JPG (32398 bytes)I got the coffee and then decided that the photo would look better with a blueberry muffin along with it, so added that (since I wasn't going to be weighed anyway!). Then I sat there with my coffee and my muffin and noticed that on the bench next to me, someone had left the morning's newspaper. I picked up a piece of it and did a double take.

It was a full page, continued on the inside, article, with lots of photos, on one of my former bosses. Another black period of my life. The OTHER psychiatrist.

I want to be perfectly clear that the man I refer to as "the psychiatrist" is a wonderful man to work for. We've worked together for over 20 years (possibly 25-30 years). We've never had a bad spell. Never. I have bent over backwards for him, sometimes taking rush jobs that his wife delivered in her bathrobe at midnight, and I produced the finished product for him by 7 in the morning. By the same token, there have been a couple of times in my life when I was feeling pretty desperate and he saw me for free therapy for a session or two. He has no idea how much I charge and just unhesitatingly (and promptly) pays the bill (with checks that can be cashed immediately, unlike some others I've worked for). Once I mistakenly billed him twice in the same month and he paid me twice and when I returned the second check, with my apologies, he said that if I hadn't returned the check he never would have noticed. We have perfect trust between us. I do love that man, though he's the world's stereotypical absentminded professor.

But the guy in the newspaper is the OTHER psychiatrist. There is some similarity between the two. Both are forensic psychiatrists by profession and musicians by avocation. The newspaper article was about this guy's music. I sat there, drinking my Sumatra blend and crumbling the blueberry muffin on the table and I let my mind wander back to that disasterous 8 months that I worked as his transcriptionist.

I had begun doing his transcription while working for a typing service, but he decided that he had enough of it that it would be good to have someone in-house, and I was ready for a full time job.

It was a small office and the staff consisted of his wife, who was the office manager, his daughter, and myself. I was the only non-family...and there was ethnic diversity; I was the odd person out. I'd like to think that some of the problems which arose were cultural in addition to personal.

Age-wise, I was just about in the middle between Mamma and Daughter. Mamma was older than I by XX years and Daughter was younger than I by the same number of years. I got along well with both of them which was good up until family problems started to develop.

The family problems came in the person of Daughter-in-Law-to-be. Daughter and fiancee didn't get along. There was lots of friction. Mother was trying to make nice with her soon-to-be daughter-in-law. Daughter and I would spend lots of time discussing the situation. I was a good, sympathetic listener. Then Mother and I would spend lots of time discussing the situation. I was again a good, sympathetic listener.

In time, Daughter realized that fiancee was not going to go away and, after a period where tension in the office was high because nobody was speaking to anybody else, in the interest of family harmony, she agreed to make peace, try to be friends with fiancee and make up to Mamma.

That meant they had a common bond: me. I had tsk-tsk'd with Daughter about her dislike of fiancee and her anger with Mamma. I had tsk-tsk'd with Mamma about how unreasonable Daughter was being. That made me the bad guy because I'd been negative against both of them, or so it seemed to them.

There were other complications. I had developed a close friendship with Son, who was going to the university. I did his typing after hours, helping him write papers. He and I had a nice joking, teasing-each-other friendship. When the engagement was announced there was a party to which I was invited. At the party, I made the unforgiveable sin of assuming that our easy camaraderie extended into this social setting as well. Big, big mistake.

The next morning he came into the office, told me I had embarrassed him terribly. He never spoke to me again, despite my abject apologies for whatever he felt I had done that was out of line. (This is where I think the cultural thing came in.)

Then fiancee came to work in the office and she hated me.  We'd never actually even had a conversation, but she fairly snarled whenever she had to have interactions with me. It was very ugly.

The interesting thing about the atmosphere that developed was the effect on me (and it kind of relates to how I've reacted to taking Dr. G's transcription back on again). The Other Psychiatrist at that time primarily did evaluations for Workers Comprehension cases, examining the psychological effects of job stress. There were times when I'd shake my head in astonishment at the tales these patients would tell, about insomnia, panic attacks, migraines, labile emotions (crying all the time), etc, etc. In many cases, the original situation that resulted in the Workers' Compensation claim seemed fairly minor to have resulted in this complicated constellation of symptoms. I wondered how many of them were faking it.

BUT, within two weeks of fiancee's joining the staff of the office I found that I was starting to experience just about every one of the symptoms that I'd read about. Mamma began examining all of my work with a fine tooth comb. If I left the office at 4:57 and put on my time sheet that I left at 5 p.m., she would scold me the next morning ("Your time sheet says 5 p.m., but I looked at the clock when you left--it was only 4:57." --you may think I'm exaggerating, but that was an actual conversation!)

Nothing I did was every quite right. Everything was criticized. When I attempted to explain to the Other Psychiatrist he brushed it off. It was a staff problem and he didn't get involved with staff problems.

Within a month--if it lasted that long--I was a blithering idiot. I was a self-fulfilling prophesy. My work suffered because I could no longer concentrate on it. I was so worried about making mistakes that I made more of them. Nobody in the office would talk to me. I stopped sleeping. I had headaches. I had to get out of there.

Then one day the Other Psychiatrist came into my cubicle and said "I don't have enough work for you. You'll have to leave." That was it.  No thank you.  No "I'm sorry."  No goodbye. No nothing. I packed up my stuff and left immediately. Nobody in the office said a word when I walked out the door.

I returned to the typing service (where I continued to do his transcription for at least another year).

It was a horrible, horrible, horrible experience.   Things were so uncomfortable that years later, when I was managing a gyn office, Mamma came in for an appointment.   When she saw me working there, she switched to a different ob/gyn office.

One of the reasons I decided to leave Dr. G's employ instead of trying to find a substitute so I could return to the job was that I was beginning to see the same symptoms in myself as I had during my period with the Other Psychiatrist.    It's a different kind of pressure, but the emotional response was starting to be similar.

It's kind of like childbirth--the longer you are away from it, the less painful it begins to seem. But my experience this week, with the transcription, has brought it all back to me. I know that if I were to continue working for Dr. G, I'd soon become the blithering idiot that I was while working for the Other Psychiatrist.

I deserve better than that.


Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist ought to have his head examined.

~ Samuel Goldwynn

Today's Photo

muffin.JPG (49571 bytes)

More of my breakfast muffin

For more photos, please visit My Fotolog and My FoodLog

Powered by

Pounds Lost: 66.2
(this figure updates on Tuesday)


Search WWW Search Funny the World

Created 8/12/03 

18 cu89c6