Christmas at The Doctor’s Office
If it were up to men alone to take care of things, life in general would be a dull affair. Same way in bluegrass music. I like a female voice in the mix, and our world wouldn’t sound or look as good without the likes of Alison Krauss and Rhonda Vincent. And without my Mafar it wouldn’t be worth the trip across town to go home at night.
If most men are like me, a self-described testosterone poisoned dumb animal pack mule/work horse, when the 25th of December rolls around everybody would just say, “Hey guys, is it Christmas? We’d better send somebody out to the store!” As it is, though, our office, like the house, is always ready for the season.
Of course, a doctor’s office is mostly about taking care of sick people, so it ain’t like home. Still, when you work with twelve women, you can see their influence. Some of my folks, like Lynn O’Carroll, Myrd, and Paig have been around for a couple decades. (We signed Myrd in the newborn nursery- and she was a patient!) Others, like Marcie Presto, are brand new. They’re all easy to work with, though, at least as long as you let them take care the office decor.
First of all, I want to tell you I have all respect for these ladies, and when they speak, I listen. It’s not only that I have learned about new colors such as taupe, fuchsia or chartreuse (no tans and greens in that place) but also I’ve discovered all sorts of new reading material. You know you are working around a group of women when the lead article in the purple room (their term for the staff bathroom – don’t know where it came from) at Easter reads “Ten Lovable Bunny Crafts.” I can’t make too much fun though, ’cause I never did understand why the bathroom at the barber shop has a lady on the wall in a skimpy swim suit showing off wrenches and working on a car to sell tools- looks like she’d get hurt not wearing any more than that. And while I’m thinking of it, I should add a serious note- there are very few women’s health care issues on which my co-workers can not offer some valuable insight. Between what I learned in books, and consultation with them and Dr. Lucas, I can almost always make a good decision in this area of medicine.
But, as far as office decoration, I just ain’t in their league. They put up a big poster years ago with Polaroids of all the kids in the practice, and we never have taken a single one down. My boy is now married, but smiles at me every day with that same toothy grin like time has stood still just for us.
Thanksgiving will always see cardboard turkeys from the middle school kids, and all the employees get a cake on their birthday. (I opt out for pintos and cornbread.) In general, it is a home-like atmosphere.
They do it up right this time of year, though. After all these years around all these women, I have learned. Christmas is a biggy.
The first sign of the impending holiday is a cloth snowman who shows up as a cover on the toilet lid in the purple room. (You can’t miss him- the seat is always down.) His reemergence is so reliable I have never forgotten to do my shopping. As much as I hate to shop, his appearance is my annual reminder of my duty. The old boy is looking a bit ragged- he at least twenty- about 140 in people years, and his middle section is tinged a tad brown around the edges. Sort of a dingy look like one of those big snow balls piled up at the edge of the Walmarks parking lot a few days after the plow comes through. I dubbed him the “abdominal snowman” for a while, but they got irritated with me, so I quit.
Our tree is a droopy Charlie Brown thing, but Lord help you if you make fun of it. They explained to me it wouldn’t be fitting to try to outdo anybody, and not proper to spend too much time or effort- might send the wrong message. It was fine by me. I wasn’t exactly sure what the message was, but I have learned just ’cause I can’t decode all their encrypted language doesn’t mean I should ignore it’s existence.
Our most enduring tradition has to be our Christmas ceramics, though. By any artistic standard they are… well, let’s just say they come from the heart. In one sense, I have to agree. The poor fellow who made them meant well, but honestly, those angels with their halos on crooked and the glue dripping down their cheeks- they look like they are crying- what kinda Christmas cheer is that?
I’d protest to Paig every year. “Gee, Paig. I know Billy Bee made ’em, but for heavens’ sake. Do we have to put them out? That glue- they really are rough style, you know.”
Paig would wipe them off with a dust rag, and place them in their appointed position, just the same as the year before. “Now Dr. Bibey, we can’t go hurt Billy Bee’s feelings- he worked hard on these.” She kept busy, and never looked me in the eye, but I knew from her stern tone not to protest any further.
Of course, I always gave in.
Now we are coming up on Christmas again. Poor Billy Bee died of pneumonia last winter. He put up a good fight. We fought the battle not only with his country docs, but pulmonologisits and intensivists- it just wasn’t to be. Sometimes you grow weary of losing patients, and it sure can set you to thinking about what’s really important around Christmas.
I went to the purple room just the other day, and there was the abdominal snowman- that time of year again. Paig set out the Charlie Brown tree, and I told Lynn O’Carroll and Myrd to go find Billy’s ceramics and dust ’em off. You’d have to work at a doctor’s office, or perhaps most women would understand intuitively, but it just wouldn’t be Christmas without those crooked halo glue dripping angels around. Ole Billy worked hard on them.
When I left Tuesday, Paig was setting ’em all out in their appointed places to see us through another year.