Thursday, May 04, 2006


I am nearing completion of my PhD, so I'm not officially a doctor. Yet. But because of my membership to assorted professional organizations, some of my mail reads Dr. (First name) (Last name).

Now. I open my mail maybe like twice a month. Horrible, I know, but I have three addresses in two states and in two countries. Also, I'm never in town, and when I am, I just toss my mail into a pile because, well, most post is trash. When I recently flew back from San Francisco to London, I was mortifyingly bored, so I finally had a chance to go through all my mail. For some reason, the guy who sat in the middle seat next to me found it necessary to look into my lap during my entire mail-opening process. (I must sit on the aisle because I drink a lot on airplanes, and therefore I pee a lot, too.) I also had headphones on, and was watching back-to-back episodes of The Catherine Tate Show and Little Britain, and probably laughing too loudly, so I didn't particularly care that this random man was watching me open credit card and bank statements, random letters, and all kinds of junk mail.

Everyone's in-flight entertainment was paused when a Virgin Airlines flight attendant announced, "Ladies and gentleman, we have a sick passenger on this flight. If there is a doctor or a medical professional present, please ring your call bell." The guy next to me punched his bell immediately and, as I sat there watching Catherine Tate's chirpy characters, I thought, Oh, so the peeper is an MD.

When two flight attendants arrived, my row neighbor pointed to me and said, "He's a doctor!" I dropped all my mail in my lap, covering my ripped-up jeans and the lower half of my Abercrombie Kids sweatshirt, and looked up at the flight attendants, doe-eyed and confused.
"You are!?" one of them quipped.
"You look too young to be a doctor!" the other said.
I removed my headphones, mashed down my blond bedhead, and started to speak. But then the first flight attendant continued with, "There is a passenger with appendicitis who is in severe pain! What can you do!?"
"Um..." I began, "...write him a short story?" They stared in confusion, so I continued, "...uh...edit his grammar and sentence structure? Give him a lecture on 'the postmodern condition' or about the progression of the social novel or all about psychoanalytic critical theory?"
"Sir, what are you talking about?"
"I'm a PhD, not an MD. Sorry I can't help you."
Embarrassed for ringing his call bell, the guy next to me reaffixed his headphones over his scalp as tight as they would suction his ears.

And for this very reason, when I have completed my PhD, I will not tell anyone about it publicly or socially, only professionally. Except for Awesome. Whom I will make call me doctor all the time. Especially at home. Specifically in the bedroom. In bed. During... Oh. What? He is a nurse, after all.

Be suspicious of any doctor who tries to take your temperature with his finger. - David Letterman