I got to the evening service yesterday, and spent some time chatting with other young people afterwards. Or, to be more precise, listening to them chatting, since I only have one topic of conversation these days, and I try not to impose it on people outside the hospital.

They were discussing how long an 8-hr business day is compared to a day of college classes, and how much longer a 10-hr day is, when they get really busy and the boss makes them work late for a day or two.

I was laughing to myself. We residents work six hours on a weekend day, and consider that we have the day off. We work 13-14 hours, and are happy to get home at a reasonable time. 15 is annoying, but it comes with the territory. I really had not comprehended what life is like for people who pick a more normal career. 8 hours a day, with an hour for lunch? (An hour for lunch? The program director would fire me on the spot if he found me taking more than 20 minutes for lunch, and that’s assuming I had no work at all to do anyway. Ten minutes, or zero, is more like it.) What do they do with all that free time?

As the Count tells Inigo, “You have an over-developed sense of vengeance.” I think I and my colleagues have a severely over-developed sense of – what? responsibility? delayed gratification?

The chief was complaining to me today that there’s not enough work to do: either I do it all and he’s bored, or we share and we’re both bored. I don’t think I was born this way, but somewhere in the last year they taught me that sitting still for more than three minutes is unnatural, likely a sign of criminal negligence of something, boring, and just plain shouldn’t happen. I’ve been indoctrinated, so thoroughly that I regard this as a good thing. There’s so much more time in the day if you only sleep for five or six hours, and work hard all the rest of them.

But it is fun to talk to people outside the hospital, and remember that there’s more to life than illness.

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