Sincerely, Your Subconcious

June 17, 2011
By , Fort Washington, PA, PA
I was cracking up. In my first message to a patient’s answering machine – a test of my customer service acumen – I had managed to mangle her name, address her with the scripted pronoun “he or she,” and hang up in the middle of that message. With utmost sincerity, I realized the day was off to a great start.

The phone rang. I coughed, I recovered and pulled myself together. I’m going to nail this, I affirmed. I swept it up in the palm of my hand and assuredly spoke into the microphone. Hi, Dr. Zun’s Dental Office, how may I help you?

I pressed the phone into the wells. Not bad, you’re getting the hang of it. The girl next to me nodded in approval. I’ll let you handle the phones. She smiled. Fine, whatever. I said, choking back laughter. Learning from your mistakes was surprisingly invigorating.

Several hours passed by. I ate my lunch, I answered a few more calls. I made some appointments. And I burned through gloves as if it were the oxygen to my fire. Safety standards – maybe it was just some unwritten rule – required us to use an obscene number of gloves each day. Just cleaning up after each dentist, we used two gloves each. And so we cleaned up after the dentists – many times! On the gloves were put to clean out the dirty equipment, off they were taken as we finished. The clinical snap of glove leaving fingers and thumb preceded the sad scene: latex fingers drooped inside out, as they lay wasted, sprawled half in, half out, under the lid of the metal trashcans. I began a tally of how many rooms I had cleaned. I drew tallies one at a time. As more and more patients began filing in, I tallied into my records 3, 4 cleaned rooms at a time. Cleaning rooms became a blur. Trash out. Wipe it down. Tape it up. Charts had to be pulled as patients signed in. Trash bags had to be switched out as they began to overflow. Dental tools had to be sanitized in the ultra- sound machine and baked in the UltraClave. No longer singularly a result of my easy going bantering, the day was getting interesting.

When the influx of people began to wind down, all the doctors were quietly humming away in their rooms, I left my desk to take a quick break. The break room in the back was small and cozy. Snack boxes were thrown on the counter in the left. A box of crackers lay open. Bleh! I spat them out; they were stale. I decided to turn my eye towards my more tasty options. An unfinished lunch of waffle fries and a burger lay beside me. They had been there for so long already! I eyed the waffle fries, contemplating. Already, it was five, and who ordered it – I don’t know – still hadn’t finished it. I’ll help them out. I glanced down the hall and shoved one into my mouth. I chowed on it victoriously. I had no idea what I was in for.

As I returned to clean out the tools. Like a camera with a broken macro function, my eyes refused to focus on the dental tools in front of me. I squeezed my eyes shut, I held my eyes open and I forced myself to finish this last batch of tools. I returned to my desk and sat down. I closed my eyes to rest.

I was back in a room. Dr. Zun had called me and Patty back over. There was a patient in his room. He showed us the sink, filled with blood staining the drain. It wasn’t the patient’s; we had forgotten to clean it. I had remembered to throw out all the bloody gauze pads though. The cloth, thick with clotting blood looked so out of place with the shining sterile metal on the trays. My mind wandered back to the present. I was reclining in my chair. A sudden hush swept over the the office. the lights dimmed and I could only see Amy clearly. She rampaged out of her room, growing bigger and bigger, looming tall over my chair. As her eyes blazed with fury, her face morphed into the face of every woman I had ever feared. She boomed, my waffle fries!!

The sound of ringing grew louder and louder.

I jolted back in my seat. The light immediately dimmed back on. Amy wasn’t in front of me. Dr. Zun was. He picked up the phone and was listening quietly and solemnly. I jumped up out of my seat, frazzled and anxious. He turned to me unmoved and indifferent. Regardless, I stood at attention. As I waited for him to finish his call, my superego finished what it had set out to tell me. Never steal food at work.

Sincerely, Your Subconscious.

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