The Future, or Something Remarkably Like It

Grandpa Reminisces

“Why yes, Jimmy, that is a picture of your old grandpa. That’s your grandma next to me and your Uncle Mark on the right. I’m the one in the white coat…third from the left. That picture was taken at my law school graduation, man, I guess it must have been forty years ago. Maybe five years after the end of the Burger Wars so it had to have been May of 2062. Not that the war ever really ended. Most of the McDonald’s forces retreated to Canada and then the ones that weren’t incinerated in the fire raids on Winnipeg just sorted of melted into the tundra where they continued to raid across the border for another ten years or so. It was pretty hairy going to a Taco Bell up there, let me tell you.”

“In fact, the last Mickie hold-out only just surrendered a few years back. Maybe you remember seeing him on the holo-news in his scruffy beard and tattered clown uniform? Apparently he never got the word that the war was over. There was a big reconcilliation ceremony for him up in Yellow Knife. It was pretty touching. They dug up some old fry-cook who had fought against him in his sector and they both sat down and ate a Whopper.

“Then they found out that he was actually ‘Commandant Ronald,’ the commander of the Indianapolis concentration camps and he was hanged for war crimes. Life’s kind of funny that way.”

“So anyhow, yeah, I was a lawyer. I had the diploma and white coat to prove it. Lawyers used to wear white coats, you understand, although most of them don’t today. We originally got the idea from the doctors…oh, wait a minute…I’ve told you about doctors, right? Not too many people know about them now. About the only doctor you probably could have seen was the one they had stuffed and mounted over at the Museum of the 20th Century. Unfortunately they took down that display five or six years ago after parents complained it was scaring their children.

“It’s hard to believe that vast herds of doctors once roamed the country. No, it’s true. They were everywhere. Almost every town had at least a couple sticking their noses into other people’s business or lording it over the rest of us with their high-falutin’, fancy-schmancy educations and their huge, multisyllablic words that they used to confuse us. But they’re all gone now. They were our natural prey after all, and I guess we sort of hunted them to extinction…which was a shame because once they were gone lawyers turned on each other and it became something of a feeding frenzy. Seems like everybody and his brother was suing his lawyer. It wasn’t fair. I had to quit the legal profession because I couldn’t afford my malpractice insurance. Here we were trying to help people collect the damages they deserved and then some slick mercenary lawyer sues us because we made a few mistakes in an otherwise air-tight case. As if I really can know every single precedent in the history of American Jurisprudence.”

“Hell, I can’t even keep track of all the ammendments to the Constitution. I kind of lost count after the the 56th Ammendment (the Right to Keep or Hold the Pickles which as you probably learned in school was one of the causes of the Burger Wars) so I think it was a little unfair to expect lawyers to never make a mistake. Nobody’s perfect. And our clients weren’t exactly helping us either. You can tell them a hundred times what to say and how to say it but put them in front of a jury and they start running their mouths indiscriminantly. I just don’t see how I should have been held responsible for my clients if they were non-compliant.”

“So anyways, I was a lawyer. I decided against Primary Law because even then it didn’t pay that much. There’s not too much money in mortages, deeds, and other low-level stuff; things that could be handled by a notary or other mid-level legal provider. I did a residency in Emergency Law and for a while did pretty well at it. The Emergency Legal Departments were booming back then especially after the government mandated legal representation at all doctor-patient encouters. Man! Those were the glory days! We knew it couldn’t last because as more and more doctors were driven out of business we eventually had to start suing actors and there just wasn’t any money in that.”

“You heard me right. We tried to sue actors. Not just any actors you understand but only the ones that were hired by the hospitals to improve their customer satisfaction scores (an unfortunate and unintended consequence of the 53rd Ammendment). It seems that hospital administrators…yes, Jimmy, a hospital was a big warehouse for sick people…realized that people were happier being treated by a doctor who looked and acted like a doctor. You know, all smarmy and paternalistic like in those movies that I know you kids have hidden in your rooms. A real doctor, although perfectly competent, represented a significant risk of having his unpolished personality interfere with the business of the hospital which even back then had become making the patient happy. But then that was the problem with doctors to begin with. They were always assigning blame and relaying bad news.”

“It was always, ‘You’re too fat’, or, ‘You need to stop smoking,’ or ‘You’ve got cancer.’ People just don’t like that kind of negativity. They want postitive thinking. An upbeat prognosis. A physician that will be a team player and work with them, not against them, to make them feel good about themselves.”

“By that time the medical schools (sort of like our medical community colleges except they were four years long instead of twelve weeks like they are today) had come to rely on standardized patients to train doctors. Somebody, I think it was at Hopkins, had a Eureka moment and realized that what patients really wanted were standardized doctors, not real ones. Oh sure, they had some real doctors in the hospital at first but they kept them in the back rooms where they gave suggestions to the actors by radio. Clinics, however, were entirely staffed by actors by the mid-2000s and except for surgeons who lingered on for a few more years, by 2060 there was probably not a practicing doctor West of the Mississippi.”

“I mean, people started dropping like flies but the patient satisfaction scores were incredible. There is just something about a distinguished looking actor playing the role of a grave, caring healer that puts people in a good mood…even if their relative did just die a horrible and entirely preventable death. He cares, man, and that’s all that’s important. The good actors even used big medical words which added to the effect. The so-so actors used to make up words but nobody knew the difference so it was fine.”

“Eventually the drama programs at most universities exploded in popularity and it was the fondest hope of many a mother that their son or daughter would become an actor playing a doctor.”

15 thoughts on “The Future, or Something Remarkably Like It

  1. Panda, this post is one of the best entries I’ve seen in a while. I want to send it to every malpractice attorney and politician in my area so that they realize what they’re headed for if they don’t stop suing doctors into oblivion.

  2. The future? How about the past? From The History of Herodotus.

    Travelling through the ancient world. Remember the Code of Hammurabi in Babylonia? After a couple centuries of physicians taking, shall we say, high risk for bad outcomes, here’s what Herodotus found:

    The following custom seems to me the wisest of their institutions next to the one lately praised. They have no physicians, but when
    a man is ill, they lay him in the public square, and the passers-by come up to him, and if they have ever had his disease themselves or have known any one who has suffered from it, they give him advice,
    recommending him to do whatever they found good in their own case, or in the case known to them; and no one is allowed to pass the sick man in silence without asking him what his ailment is.

  3. I absolutely loved this post and dragged my Dr. Daughter to the computer to read it. We both had a good laugh. Next time I read it, I think I’ll listen to that song in the background……”In the year 2525, if man is still alive…if woman can survive….they may find………….

  4. These apocryphal stories are awesome cuz they fly right over all the BS arguments and present the final outcome of following this micro-logic all the way to it’s demise.

    Props panda.

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