Better Than Meatloaf Night At The Senior Center

In 2014 I have been employed for precisely three months. I’m NOT complaining, mind you. This year has been among the most joyful of my life. How often does an adult get to carve six months out of their life to travel and discover which tiny piece of Paradise to call their own? Long, languid days of sleeping in and swaying palms, and azure blue seas. Days so long and serene they felt like weeks. Hours lazing on white sand beaches, snorkeling, and ingesting more seafood than should be legal. No place to go, no place to be. I was already here.

It might then seem odd that I can’t wait to tell you about my amazing new job. Perhaps all that leisure time has made me appreciate structure and a return to productivity, possibly the generous $$ and benefits. Whatever, the Nirvana of my wonderful new job is such a welcome relief after wandering through Dante’s Inferno of employment since 2012.

First was my encounter with “The Murderess”. I thought it a bit odd that she conducted our interviews on a weekend with no staff or patients present; I learned seven months later that was because both staff and patients wanted to stab her hateful, imperious little self in the heart. Fun, laughter, and joking around with our patients was strictly verboten. You were not allowed to address The Murderess without her express permission. Doing so would have her beady black cobra eyes staring you down until your innocent question or remark trailed off onto silence.

The first months I worked there I could smell something rotting and terribly wrong, but I couldn’t identify what that stench might be. Whenever I walked into the staff lounge all the other employees would immediately cease their whispering and sit in silence. Little did I realize I was on the outside of a terrible secret shared by these coworkers. There was no idle chit chat, no water cooler gossip. This was a place where dread went to slow dance with despair.

One summer day, the shell of this practice’s secret began to crack when two DEA agents arrived to terminate my doctor’s sedation permit. Over the ensuing months, we discovered that our practice was on the auction block. The stress of the unknown was horrific but when the state dental board revoked her license for life, the story finally began to emerge.

Only one day prior to our first phone interview The Murderess was extracting a single wisdom tooth on a healthy 57-year-old woman, under sedation, when she went into cardiac arrest while the doctor was out of the operatory. Apparently the doctor was on a lengthy call with her interior decorator and ignored her assistant’s frantic summons. The terrified assistant was finally able to alert the front desk to call 911, but it was already too late. The Murderess could have changed her destiny in that moment, but decided to lie to paramedics and, consequently, the dental board, by falsifying the patient’s record of the events of that fateful morning.

It took one year, but the dental board’s final report told a tale of arrogance, patient neglect and lies on the part of my doctor, which resulted in her malpractice policy paying out a final settlement of $3-7 million to the surviving spouse. Wonderful new owners bought the practice, but much irreversible damage had been done by the news coverage. The Murderess’ patients were appalled that she had continued to perform sedation dentistry on them and their unwitting teens for seven months following the death. My job was eliminated due to lack of business, and I had the luxury of conducting an autopsy on my life. Realizing that living in a cold, grey, dreary environment hours from a beach was killing my soul soon had me seeking my tropical future, but not before a truly fun month-long adventure working for an Indian dentist.

For openers the reception area was so tiny, the crammed patients were practically sitting in my lap, redolent of curry and garlic. They all had unpronounceable names consisting of 34 consonants, with the occasional vowel thrown in to keep things interesting. To make things even easier, the men sounded like women, and the women all had deep smoker’s voices, so you had no clue if you were addressing a male or female on the phone. 90% of our male patients were named either Raj or Samir. What a dry and humorless people. The day I quit without notice it felt like being pardoned from Federal prison.

Then, I moved here and immediately followed that fun and frolic up with “The Adulterer”. If you missed that one…

I’m hoping that, like celebrity deaths and plane crashes, truly horrific jobs come in threes,  which would mean I can wave bye-bye to that memorable two years, as they recede in my rear-view mirror. A great job that you can’t wait to get to truly is better than Meatloaf Monday.

seniors dining

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