This I Believe

Arthur - York Springs, Pennsylvania
Entered on January 27, 2008
Age Group: 65+
Themes: humanism
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Is There A Doctor In The House? — Everyone Raises His Hand

This I believe —- We all want to be doctors.

Why is it that professions unrelated to the medical field want to call themselves doctors? There are no such wannabees with other callings? There are roof doctors, plant doctors, and pump doctors. Or do these people aspire to Ph.D.’s, the highest academic degree, and this has nothing to do with being medical doctors? Probably not. Especially when they depict themselves with that circular mirror strapped to the head, something you never see on a real doctor anymore.

You never hear anyone call himself the roofing lawyer. For good reason. That would not suggest a man kneeling on a roof nailing neat courses of shingles, but a guy in tassled loafers churning out ten-page interrogatories, motions and counter-motions. A year later your roof would still leak.

I suggest this fascination with the medical profession comes from the curiosity humans have about their own bodies. Primitive art was fixated on the human body —- grotesque sexual organs to solicit fertility from the gods, and even representations of boils and lesions —- because we knew the warranty on our bodies was finite and we wanted to comprehend sickness and death. The doctor, even the witch doctor, stood next to God.

What is more, there is no reciprocity in this doctor-wannabee syndrome. Pump installers may call themselves pump doctors, but cardiac surgeons never call themselves “heart plumbers”. Biology teachers say the heart is only a glorified pump. Just try to get those same biology teachers to undergo a triple bypass by a plumber! “Pump doctor” suggests a top professional assisted by a team of efficient nurses. “Heart plumber” suggests a guy named Yogi bending over your gurney while his jeans ride down to reveal a hairy butt crack.

Yo! Dis de guy youse want to put a catheter in your vena cava?

There really is one business called Furniture Medic. HERE is a tradesman I like. He could have called himself “the furniture doctor” —- whose receptionist makes an appointment for your lowboy to come in next week. A “furniture doctor” would have a five-minute consult with the lowboy, then take the afternoon off for a round of golf. The “furniture medic” is a G.I. with a red cross on his helmet, leaping through bomb-cratered terrain to reach your wounded piano. There’s the furniture medic, giving it a shot of atropine and a transfusion of grace notes.

Even Walter Mitty, the milquetoast invention of James Thurber, imagined being a brilliant surgeon. This I believe: we are all Walter Mittys —- lawn doctors and pump doctors, and especially tree surgeons. Dating couples want to play doctor, but that’s another matter. We want to be what we are not. In a word, the grass is greener on the other side of the glamour fence, but if you’re happy with what you are doing, do not envy the titles of some other profession. You probably wouldn’t want their headaches either.