Hello and welcome to a strange new world. You have traveled far through the desert, only to be met time and again by one empty oasis after another. You are lost and alone, wandering, wondering if someone, anyone, knows how you feel. And just when you think you can't go on, and no one could possibly understand your struggle, a hand reaches out to you, lifts you to your feet, and carries you to the promised land. He feeds you knowledge, shelters you from the self-righteous (and the ridiculous), and provides you with the tools you need to survive in this brave new world. You are a stranger in a strange land, but you are not alone. Let him be your guide. Follow closely as you travel together on this adventure of a lifetime. For now, you are a foreigner to "Fatherhood" but soon YOU will be the master of this realm.

"No Man is Expendable!"

This is Fodder 4 Fathers...


I've never been a fan of the concept behind "barrier to entry." When you need (and I mean absolutely need) a service, you shouldn't be turned away at the door- especially not just because somebody else is having a bad day, or you're coming in at the eleventh hour. That doesn't sit well with me, nor should it. I've encountered this a few times- getting the Heisman- from the most unexpected places. Places where you'd expect people to care - but they don't.

The first time was at the vet. My dog ingested clumping cat litter (I knew this because the smell of cat shit on his breath and the gravely stool sample he left on my floor were a dead giveaway). I rushed him to my own veterinary clinic, a half-hour before closing, only to find an unfamiliar face staring blankly at me from behind the counter. "Do you have an appointment?" she said. "No." I said, "but I have a bit of an emergency..." "Don't care..." she said. "We're closed. Call back in the morning." I knew the attitude- strictly by the clock. The moment her shift was close to being up, her mind checked out and so did her humanity.

"So, what should I do?" I asked. "Again. Don't care. No appointment? Go away." she said... So I did, and I went to the all night vet clinic and spent $1200 to find out that if I had waited another ten minutes the clumping cat litter would have hardened in my dog's intestines and it would have either cost me another $5000 for the surgery, or $3000 for the cost of cremating his soon to be dead body. But it didn't come to that, thankfully.

I (well, my dog) was lucky. The girl at the first vet clinic was not- I called and got her fired the next day. Her boss, the one who owned the clinic, was a close family friend. I know I should have mentioned my relationship to her boss when I arrived, but that's not my job. If she was doing hers, it shouldn't have been an issue. I just wish I had that kind of pull everywhere. Sadly, I don't.

Case in point, last Tuesday night, when my wife and I rushed our daughter to a highly "respected" children's emergency clinic - only to be turned away at the door - my second run in with Eva Braun. No, the girl behind the counter didn't look like anything like the girl from the vet clinic, but they sure shared the same crusty, curmudgeonly personality. I knew it was a lost cause, even if my wife didn't, but I stayed for the show anyway.

My wife rushed up to the counter, our injured, tear-filled toddler in hand. "My daughter has an infected finger...," she said. "Do you have an appointment...?" the receptionist interrupted. "I thought this was the clinic I called," said my wife (which she did), " but now that I see your sign maybe it was another clinic?" "Well, maybe you should go to that clinic?" said the receptionist." This one is closed." "But, my daughter has something wrong with her finger," said my wife. "I just need for someone to take a quick look at it because I'm afraid it's becoming infected." "CLOSED!" said the receptionist. "We are not taking anymore patients!!!" "But isn't this a "walk-in clinic?" I asked, from the doorway. "A closed one!" said the receptionist.

But god love my wife, she wouldn't let it go...

"Well," my wife said, taking a seat, clutching my young, desperate daughter in her arms, "We'll just wait to see a doctor." The receptionist fumed from her perch of power, infuriated by the gull of anyone to ignore her autonomous authority (I know, too much alliteration). But, what would you do? You show up at a walk-in clinic to have someone look at your sick child, and the person who is supposed to greet you, and put you at ease, and tell you everything is going to be okay with your child is a total b.i.t.c.h. who won't even look up at your child, because she's only thinking of her long day (not even contemplating yours), and how you showing up at her door at the last minute f@#%s up her chance to leave on time. Of course, she doesn't realize that you too have worked a full day and rushed to her walk-in clinic so as not to waste 12 overnight hours in an emergency room (with a cranky baby) for what would take her and a doctor 5 minutes to process and examine. But she doesn't care. Your baby is nothing more than another number to her, and if she (my daughter) were to lose her finger because the infection spread (or turned out to be a flesh eating disease- my wife's worry more so than mine), it would be no skin off of her nose (literally).

"You have to leave ma'am," said the receptionist. "Not until I see a doctor, I don't," said my wife. "You have to GO ma'am," said the recetionist, " Now!" "Nope," said my wife, bearing down in her seat. "Oh, you're gonna leave..." said the receptionist rushing toward her from behind the desk. "Not before I see a doctor," said my wife, sneaking around the receptionist to see the doctor, coming out of an exam room behind her. Rushing toward him, my wife, holding out my daughter's finger asked: "Burn or infection?" The doctor, questioningly, looked at the receptionist, then my wife, and finally my daughter's finger. "Burn." He said. "Put Polysporin on it." "That's all I needed to know" said my wife. "Thank-you," she said to the doctor, turning around to walk out the door- and, if I remember correctly, she said something- something like: "F@#% you, bitch!" to the receptionist. Gotta love it.

"What did she just say to me?" said the receptionist, watching my wife triumphantly exiting through the doorway. "Nothing you didn't deserve." I said. "Golden rule - treat others as you would like to be treated. Otherwise, "hell hath no fury" like a mother that can't get medical attention for her child." Following my wife out the door, I couldn't help trying to get one last jab in there: "and, have yourself a nice night, you unfeeling (expletive deleted)."

And that was our fun trip to the Children's Emergency Clinic. We did put polysporin on our daughter's finger, but come the next morning we rushed her in to see our Paediatrician. "It's an infection," she said, giving my wife piece of mind- in the form of antibiotic ointment- and my daughter a cookie- before shooing her out the door to greet her next patient. And, that's the way it should be. No muss. No fuss. In and out in three minutes (not including the hour you sat in the waiting room and the ten minutes you waited in the exam room, but that's a post for another time). We showed up without calling. They fit us in. No one told us to leave. And no one got hurt, feelings or otherwise. Sure, they probably hate both me and my wife for being neurotic new parents, but they never show it, and as long as my daughter gets the best care from them, I couldn't care less. Some people could learn from that. Unfortunately, most never will.


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