29 January 2013

The Principal Doctor's Office


I've been sent to the principal's office before. It didn't happen much, but when it did it was usually the result of some quantity of stupidity on my part and some willingness to snitch on some fucking snitch's part. You pretty much need equal measures of the two otherwise the snitch is just crying wolf -- or you're acting a fool in a vacuum, unobserved and unpunished.

Whether you know you're being sent down the river at some appointed hour or the announcements arrives out of the blue, carried on the winged feet of an office aide, it's always accompanied by that terrible sinking feeling. Or at least it was for me. I imagine there are a few dead-inside types who got an early start and for whom the principal's office was no more of a threat than jail.

That's not me though. I cried when I had to go -- and that was in high school. Cried like a tiny baby.


So you go and you're sentenced and then you live out a month of detention or a week of suspension plus two weeks' no Playstation or whatever delicious combo your parents and the administrators have cooked up for you.

The obvious cognate for adults is jail. You just replace a few key words with "judge", "sentencing hearing" and "stabbed in the kidney with a toothbrush".

Jail is serious business.

I find that a lot of the same feelings from school get dredged up when I'm facing a doctor visit and to me, that's a bit more interesting.

You still sort of feel like you're "in trouble". You've done something wrong and now you're being reported to an authority figure. If you've gotten sick, it's probably because your dumb ass was hanging out with sick people all day or licking doorknobs or whatever.

Pulled muscle? Horseplay.

Broken bone? Fuckin' around.

Chronic ailment? Should have gone sooner.

No matter why you're going there's always the nagging feeling that you have actively done something wrong. That, had you acted differently, you could have avoided this whole mess altogether.

Some people can live with this guilt forever. I can't. Every time that nagging cough or mysterious joint pain comes up I'm reminded that I've done something Wrong. Eventually, I am compelled to snitch. When you go to the doctor your are both the malefactor and the whistle-blower.

Then the dread hits. What if I have to do something shitty for two weeks? What if they stick me with some fucking prescription I have to remember to take? Inevitably this is the case.

You've done something wrong, you go to the doctor and you end up with an irritating punishment.

And so, like people would avoid the principal's office altogether if they could, many avoid the doctor. No one wants someone to confirm that yes, they have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome because it feels like they're saying "Yes, you should have shelled out for an ergonomic keyboard and a footrest." It's a holdover from the principal's office dynamic. If you did something at school and you got away with it, you would do your very best to keep that information out of the principal's hands.

That's why none of my principals knew about the Lufthansa job I pulled, or the gym bags full of money that resulted from it.

It's that same total unwillingness to snitch and/or self-report that keeps people out of doctor's offices, and also keeps them chronically sick.


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