Dr’s Office Mags: the Twist

23 Nov

So I was going from the waiting room back to one of the exam rooms at the podiatrist’s office when I was stopped at the door by the assistant of Dr. X (not his real name but it’s shorter). She asked me nicely to return the New York Magazine (a most recent issue covering the Zucotti Park bust up) to the rack in the waiting room. I was sure they were on to me, and that Dr. X had seen my post on “is taking magazines from your doctor stealing?” debate. I was a marked woman. Dr. X is nice but this is a solo practice. He might not look kindly on his best magazines disappearing every time I’m there. A young doctor, X is known as much for his chattiness as his steady surgical hand (which he attributes to a Donkey Kong obsessed youth). A quirky conversationalist, he can hold his own from stock market talk to sunspot philosophy. To date, he’s the best foot doctor I’ve met (and I’ve been unfortunate to know quite a few). We were raised in the same era, so I don’t mind when he points out I’m still wearing this boot (I’ll tell you that story later) because no matter how young at heart we are, the rest of our bodies are not (trust me this was far less disconcerting than being told by a male gynecologist before giving birth to my second child that I should be prepared, and that I’d been “spoiled” by having my first by c-section).

Dr. X’s office has huge windows overlooking frenetic Canal Street. I’ve seen him peering out them before. Maybe he saw me coming and put his staff on red alert (“the magazine thief is back. Hide the Harpers! Set out the People” – even a thief has pride). Whether that happened or not, I dutifully returned the NY mag to its place on the rack as requested, but couldn’t stop myself from asking the assistant, as nonchalantly as possible, why. She explained, economically enough, “contamination.” (I’m guessing the staff has learned that single word sentences are the best fit, edgewise). I didn’t know if it was a canned response, prepared specially for the periodical thief, or if there was some truth in her word. I pondered whether the new New Yorker tucked under my arm might also be at risk (it was obtained legitimately at a nearby newsstand and was swiftly stashed in my bag when I beheld the array of competitors on the magazine rack my doctor made with his own hands back when he first opened the office – like I said, he’s got the gift of gab, and with the fate of my f#<k~d up feet in his hands, who am I not to listen?). But my magazine was no typhoid Mary. It had come in with me. Sure, it would be in the back room where shoes and socks are tossed off, and toes are touched, and toe jam exposed. But, more importantly, it would also leave with me.

It occurred to me then that sticky fingered patients are actually doing others a favor by removing magazines from the ground zero of germ breeding grounds, a doctor’s waiting room. Conceiving, as I now did, the latest Harper’s as a weapon of mass influenza, rather than a beacon of free press passed freely to me, I suddenly acquired the disincentive I’d previously been lacking. And this disincentive (nearly) resolves the dilemma whether it’s morally, technically, legally, and ethically wrong to take magazines from your doctors’ offices. Nearly.

Back when Dr. X was busy doing Nintendo pre-med, I spent weekends getting bleary eyed watching Saturday Night Live. My favorite segment was Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey, who is a real person, at least according to Wikipedia (which reminds me, would everyone please hurry up and donate because the dude staring out over every entry with his creepy Great Gatsby eyes really makes my skin crawl. He’s worse than a Sally Struther’s baby because you can’t turn him off.  True, though, if it weren’t for Wikipedia entries dedicated to the topic, I wouldn’t know that I’m not the only one who finds his picture unnerving). But Jack being a real guy is rather reassuring since I remember his wisdom more than, say, the French philosophers. (Come on, don’t judge! How many of them can you even name? Now, quick, what did any of them say – without looking at Wikipedia, people! So there.) Now, regarding one of Mr. Handey’s more memorable observations, which I suspect may have some relevance here …

If you ever fall off the Sears Tower, just go real limp, because maybe you’ll look like a dummy and people will try to catch you because, hey, free dummy.

So maybe all we’re doing by swiping our doctors’ magazines is taking home disease-riddled dummies.  But, hey, free disease-riddled dummy.  Then again, maybe here’s a real disincentive (since I don’t honestly think that New York Magazine from Dr. X’s rack was any more dangerous than the New Yorker in my bag): what if when we take magazines, it makes doctors think we come there in part for the impressive periodicals assortment, and they don’t feel so bad if they make you wait long for an appointment, and they just order more magazines to replace the ones you’ve swiped.  Those being likely consequences of getting your news at a five-fingered discount, perhaps the following Deep Thought is the more appropriate one to end on…

If trees could scream, would we be so cavelier about cutting them down?  We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason.

****** This post is dedicated to Jack Handey and Dr. X, whose material I’ve shamelessly stolen.

******Jack, your website makes you look like someone who was on SNL in the 80s.  Update it, man.  I am assuming, btw (that’s by the way) that your prohibition against reproduction or posting them on websites is indeed another Deep Thought.  Right?  I’d ask you but you have no “contact us” button.  Don’t be such a loner, bro.  Gosh darnit, people like you.


2 Responses to “Dr’s Office Mags: the Twist”

  1. Steven Myers November 23, 2011 at 2:14 pm #

    somewhere satire didn’t need to be strictly political.
    thank you revel mama.

    • Revel November 24, 2011 at 6:00 am #

      No, thank YOU.

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