Today is my one year anniversary at Friedhall Family Practice. I would not have noticed, except the ever-observant Tracy in accounting had marked it on her calendar preceded by a smiley face. She also gave me a handmade card with a picture of a bee on the front that read, “Without you, this hive…” [open the card] “…would go nuts.” Beneath it was a picture of a bunch of acorns. Tracy has never lacked in originality.
When I accepted this position last June, I never imagined I would still be here a year later; I was sure it would be very temporary. After all, I graduated from William and Mary in May 2007 with a degree in Literary & Cultural Studies. I am not sure what I imagined doing with such a degree. I cannot picture myself as a teacher. I do not think I have the stamina and originality to write novels. I can say this, though…my job hunting skills are becoming quite top notch.
Secretly, I pine to be a critical reviewer of great literature. So far, nothing has come up. Here is what I do on a typical work day:
7am – Wake up to NPR’s Morning Edition on my clock radio. Hear the words “Hillary” “Obama” and “McCain” in the same sentence and realize that this doesn’t help my day get off to a good start. Resolve to find something else to wake up to.
7:15am – Shower and get dressed.
7:45am – Sit out on the balcony in my white wrought iron chair with the faded yellow polka dot cushion. Commence my summer ritual of strawberry italian ice and hot lemonade mixed with liquid vitamins. Follow this with a piece of muenster cheese wrapped in ham.
8:30am – Arrive at the office. Travel to the far back corner of the building to my office. Remark to myself that I might as well decorate the place. The narrow room with the tan metal desk and ancient computer monitor seems to have stuck.
9am – Go on a hunt for patient files. These are the mysterious ones that have all but disappeared. My job is to nose around in everyone’s stacks for the missing records and find them before the patients come in today. Sometimes I unexpectedly find interesting things, like a stray evil doodle of Dr. Ruttinger (a ferocious, short woman with beastly teeth and an even beastlier temper.)
10am – Look at the clock and am shocked to see that it is only 10am. For sure it is lunch time? But no. Time to work on locating the patient files for tomorrow. I search through the files, and then go on another scavenger hunt for the missing ones.
12pm – Lunch. The drug reps usually bribe us with food and carefully branded promotional items. I do not mind this, as it saves me quite a bit of lunch money. I often eat with Tracy in the employee lunch room, as the outdoor picnic area is usually crowded with chain-smokers. Sometimes I take my food to the car (for the comfort of the reclining passenger seat) and eat with Jane Eyre or Catherine and Heathcliff for company.
1pm – Put the to-be-filed medical records I find in my inbox in alphabetical order. Find the corresponding patient files, and file paperwork in the appropriate places.
2pm – Get a phone call from a patient named Jeri Moore screaming about how she will never come back to our practice and to the terrible Dr. Ruttinger. After hinting at a lawsuit, she demands a full copy of her medical records to be faxed to her new doctor, a Dr. Trowel. We haggle over the necessary release form that she needs to sign, and finally she agrees to fax it back. Jeri’s file is nearly 100 pages long and absolutely filled with all sorts of ailments, real and imagined.
4pm – Have a discussion with Freckled Fred (my secret pet name for my boss. When he gets frustrated, his freckles actually lighten as his face turns bright pink.) The discussion of the day is about how he has noticed more pens in my pen holder than usual. He asks me if I would please kindly return any extra pens that I have acquired to the supply closet.
5pm – Feel a happy sensation as the heavy glass door swings behind me. In the parking lot, I practically run to my car.
I am thankful to have a job, but I always pictured something more romantic and meaningful. Still, I am inclined to work hard. I love David Copperfield’s explanation of his success:
“I have been very fortunate in worldy matters; many men have worked much harder, and not succeeded half so well; but I never could have done what I have done, without the habits of punctuality, order, and diligence, and without the determination to concentrate myself on one object at a time, no matter how quickly its successor should come upon its heels, which I then formed…My meaning simply is, that whatever I have tried to do in life, I have tried with all my heart to do well; that whatever I have devoted myself to, I have devoted myself to completely; that, in great aims and in small, I have always been thoroughly in earnest.” David Copperfield in David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, 1850.
I am trying to endure my job as gracefully, but I think I have a huge disadvantage over Mister Copperfield. He was guided and motivated entirely by his love for Dora, and I have no Dora. I’ve become entirely too friendly with the classifieds.