I just gave some auto parts salesman the dumb blond story of a lifetime, if only I were blond. Somehow, I became persuaded that my headlights weren’t working – burnt out, rats ate the wire, I don’t know what I thought had happened. So finally I made time to stop at a parts shop to get it fixed.
Me: There’s something wrong with my headlights. I think I need new ones.
Mechanic: Make, model, year? . . . Ok, how many cylinders, four or six?
Me: Cylinders? I have no idea.
Mechanic: You have to know that.
Me: I have not the faintest clue about anything related to cars. That’s why I came here.
Mechanic: Ok, fine, is it your high beams or your low beams that are burnt out?
Mechanic: Where I come from, we’re in the habit of turning the lights off and on. Which ones are burnt out?
Me: I’m sorry, I have no idea what you’re talking about. But the car is right outside.
[we walk out]
Mechanic: Please turn the lights on. . . Step on the brakes. . . Hit your blinkers. . . There’s nothing wrong with your lights.
Me: But they’re not working right!
Mechanic: Every light is fine. Nothing is burnt out.
Me: But look, that looks like a bulb that’s not lighting up.
Mechanic: That’s the reflecting part of the lamp.
Me: Well, I guess if you say so.
Mechanic: Ma’am, I could take your engine apart and put it back together just from memory.
Me: I believe you. I guess. But why does it seem so dark out?
Mechanic: It’s night, and it’s snowing.
Me (under my breath): I did know that.
Yeah. So it’s healthy for me to be on the other side of a conversation with an expert, not knowing the first thing about an important mechanism, and being totally clueless. I guess I have psychosomatic burnt out light bulbs; the problem seems to be supratentorial.
Serves me right, because I spent the day mouthing off to the med students about the attendings and patients. Two years ago, I used to listen to the interns and think, “How did they ever get bitter and cynical enough to talk like this? I’m never going to sound like that.” And now I sound exactly like them. I really love what I’m doing, and I’ve a spent a lot of time the last month being simply thrilled to pieces, grinning from ear to ear, to be operating as much, or as responsible for patient care, as I have been. But I’m also running out of patience for silly things from people who [I think] should know better, and I’m way out of patience with attendings taking advantage of the residents in general, and me the intern specifically. That’s a problem, because there are four more years to go. (The nurses are no help: today there were a couple of great nurses, whom I really like, but the whole bunch of us just rubbed each other up, we played verbal ping pong, and the conversation got way more sarcastic and disrespectful of the attendings than I would like, looking back. It was unprofessional, on my part. No matter what I think of them, I shouldn’t let go like that.)