I have no talent as a handyman. Deep down, she knew I was a spaz with a history of making simple repairs worse...while usually hurting myself. So I had no business hanging pictures. Sue's confidence in me was proven the previous autumn when I found out that she charged our palmcorder the night before I went up a twenty-foot ladder to clean leaves from my leaders and gutters. She even put, "AMERICA'S FUNNIEST VIDEOS," on speed dial, in an attempt to cash-in on my anticipated accident...making their blooper reel.
Sue thought my thumb was serious and insisted that I call-out and go to the emergency room. But I decided to gut-it-out. My wound pulsated all day and was still radiating when I got out of the shower before work. The reddish, brown, purple and black skin around my cracked nail was tough to look at. By the time Sue finished bandaging me, it looked like I was trying to smuggle a lightbulb into the casino.
That was twenty years ago when I was new to dealing roulette. So, I was uncertain if there was a casino rule that might prevent me from dealing that night. I decided to give my supervisor a heads-up. On the schedule, I saw that Dean Leopold, an ugly, tiny man with a shaved head, (before it was popular), was overseeing me that night. He always had an intense look on his face and the prominent veins that protruded from around his beady eyes and tight skull looked like he were always ready to burst.
Dean (50+) was nicknamed "Dino Downer" because in addition to being unfriendly, he was a serial complainer. Dino was famous for venting about his finances. Those complaints led to his frustration about not being able to afford a divorce. Then he'd plow on about how his wife propagandized their only child against him. But he hated one thing even more...his job. Dino would whine about the special treatment his cohorts were getting, (he called them "Jet-Setters)." He'd get so frazzled that the few people who actually hung around long enough to hear his rants would joke about him going postal.
Dino hated serving the public as well as the tedium and unnecessary paperwork that was at the core of his job description. He had no interest in multi-tasking so on the rare occasion that he really had to exert himself, he put up a brick wall of pure attitude to close off added responsibility or went into a rage. He especially couldn't stand the being accountable for break-ins, (someone new to casino work...or in my case, new to a specific game...roulette).
I knew Dino wasn't thrilled to have an inexperienced roulette dealer (me) that night. So I was rather sheepish when I pointed out the gigantic bandage on my thumb. Dino snarled at me, "You think that's bad, look at these old shoes, my feet are killing me and I'm too broke to get new ones." I changed my tact and said, "Can I deal with this?" He bellowed, "I don't give a shit, it's your left thumb. For all I care, you can push the chips with your stink-ass feet." I shouldn't have been surprised by his reaction but was. I said, "Oh." He lashed out at me, "How old are you kid?" I said, "Thirty-eight." Then the asshole said, "Thirty-Eight? You're a friggin' baby! In a day or so your stupid finger will be fine. But just wait a couple of years...once you hit forty, all those little pains NEVER go away. Then you become enslaved by your pharmacy and you'll be dependent on chemicals the rest of your miserable life." I said, "Wait." Dino Downer cut me off, "No! You listen to me. In no time your body will start to fall apart. Every couple of years you'll have another procedure done and the next thing you know, you'll always feel like you're dyin'. AND! The only thing that'll make you feel alive is that other guys your age have it worse."
The last thing I ever would want to admit was that ugly, little weasel was right about ANYTHING. But when I woke up the next morning, I examined my thumb and I was okay. In a short time, Dino was fired and I went two years without recalling his pearls of wisdom.
In December 1995, my family and I were visiting friends in San Diego. One morning, I was rubbing the side of my foot and notice that the skin near the ball of my foot was cracked. I used some moisturizer and forgot about it. Weeks later at home, I noticed that the problem returned.
I figured I would gut-it-out but instead of healing, it got worse. Then I sarted feeling other strange symptoms like; dry skin, body hair loss, always feeling cold and incredible levels of fatigue. I was so easily exhausted that I had to rest while shampooing or brushing my teeth. I couldn't even write a check without my hands cramping up before I got to my signature. Still, I remained in denial until large, sensitive pimples formed on my tongue. When I had three or more of these weird zits, it effected the clarity of my speech I had never gone to a doctor in adulthood but I caved-in because...I thought I was going to die.
He was a short gentleman around my age. Despite his Oriental accent and squeaky, high-pitched voice, my first impression of his manner and professionalism was positive. When he asked me to list my symptoms, I had only rattled off a few when he started naming others like, swollen joints, edginess and lack of patience before I could. In seconds, he diagnosed my problem as an under-active thyroid. I had faith in him even as I struggled to understand him say, "What you have can be easily treated and is not life threatening. We'll draw blood today, prescribe medication and repeat the process every other week until we find the right dosage for you."
This scenario of me waiting forty minutes to an hour in his waiting room would repeat itself three times. While there, the entire support staff was friendly and approachable. So after giving my latest blood sample, I asked the petite receptionist, "To avoid the long wait, when is the best time for me to come...once I'm in, I'm out in five minutes." She said, "Come at night. Make a seven o'clock appointment and you'll be first after our dinner break."
I followed her suggestion. But just before I went, my wife Sue had an emergency and had to rush out. Rather than postpone my appointment, I took my son Andrew (he had just turned two). Andrew even at that age was exceptionally calm and patient. I took his favorite, "WIZARD OF OZ, " book and a couple of toys to occupy him...just in case. As an extra precation, I arrived at the doctor's office five minutes early. To my shock, seven people were already in the waiting room. The receptionist was a stranger to me. I said, "I have the first appointment for seven o'clock." This tiny girl didn't look up as she twirled her hair and cracked her gum. She used a pencil to point at the waiting room and stated, "So do they!"
Andrew and I had quiet fun for twenty minutes. Afterwards, his patience withered so I had to control him from running around as well as I shush him. I reopened his book and returned to the page with the flying monkeys. But the time passed slowly and I was getting antsy myself. Under my watchful eye, I let my boy freelance. Andrew put a smile on some people's faces but one patient complained to the receptionist. She called a nurse, (I never saw her before either). This woman reminded me of a five-foot, Margaret Hamilton version of Nurse Ratched.
|VETERAN MOVIE AND TV ACTRESS MARGARET HAMILTON (1902-1985) WAS BEST KNOW AS "THE WICKED WITCH OF THE WEST," FROM 1939's, "THE WIZARD OF OZ."|
Nurse Ratched was the villian from 1975's hit movie, "ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST." I was reminded of her when my doctor's night nurse rose the hackles on the back of my neck by sternly whispering to me, "Wouldn't you agree that it's not a good idea to bring babies to a doctor's office."
|LOUISE FLETCHER WON AN OSCAR FOR HER PORTRAYAL OF CRUEL AND TYRANNICAL, NURSE RATCHED.|
I wanted to tell this supposed emissary of mercy that I made a seven o'clock appointment at the suggestion of the daytime receptionist and expected to be in and out. But before I could get going, the bitch shushed me and walked away. Andrew laughed when I said, "There's no place like home. I wish I could click the heels on my ruby red slippers and..." I was interrupted when they called my name.
At ten to eight, another unfamiliar (and vertically challenged) nurse allowed Andrew and I access into Emerald City. She escorted us along a long, yellow carpet through Oz, to wait for the wizard in his office. Several minutes later, the Ratched clone, while reading my file, walked in and snapped, "What seems to be the problem?" I couldn't stand her manner and wanted to tell her; you ought to see if the doctor can give you a brain, a heart and the courage to be civil. She looked ridiculous with my case history in her hand and having the audacity to ask me that.
It wasn't easy but I controlled my temper and pleasantly said, "I'm just here to give a blood sample." She lowered the file, bent down into my face and spitefully laughed, "We don't TAKE blood at night!" I lost it...loudly! Maybe I could rationalize my behavior by blaming my condition but my book on advanced profanity really paid off. In seconds, the doctor rushed in and all of his staff converged at the threshold. A few patients came behind them and saw me lambaste the doctor. He said, "Make another appointment when you're feeling more..." I cut him off and shouted, "You're a moronic munchkin and you run your office like shit...and I'm not making another appointment...because...YOU ARE FIRED !"
Unfortunately for me, Dean "Dino Downer" Leopold was absolutely right about this one thing. I'm still taking thyroid meds. And unless I want to feel like I'm gonna die, I'm now taking pills for six others things.