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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Springs: Merits/Demerits

“Knock, knock.”

“Okay, I’ll play along. Who’s there?” Joyce was so good to humor me and my jokes that give a big groan to anyone over ten. As she spoke, I moved myself over to the water fountain behind the desk in the workroom.

“John the Baptist!” I declared as I threw sprinkles of water at my friend, who actually laughed.

Suddenly the laughter changed to gasps. Joyce pointed at the desk just to my left. Focusing on the spot where she pointed, I hoped the floor would open up and swallow me. “Did you see that x-ray film on the corner of the desk before you began your joke?”

“I didn’t see it or I wouldn’t have told you the joke now. I did look, too, but just didn’t see it. Man, I am dead meat.” Examining the film closely, the few stray droplets of sprinkled water were clearly evident. Such things are artifacts on x-ray film and can’t be just wiped off. In fact, trying to wipe them off would spread the artifact, not remove it.

“Well, let’s just say that those few merits you have earned so far will be totally obliterated with the demerits you’ll get out of this one joke.” My only hope was that it might be a training film and not one left out like that because a surgeon was soon to walk through the door to check on it.

“Hi, ladies! Got a film here for me?” The expletive that sprung into my mind cannot be recorded here, but it begins with an s.

“We sure do, Dr. Bones. Uh, well, I do hope that it is just a break you are looking for and not something you might need a magnifying glass to see?”

The orthopedic surgeon’s eyes widened and his smile narrowed as he spoke, “Hmmm, what might that mean? Do I look so old to you teenage trainees? You think my eyeglasses won’t be enough?”

“Oh, no! Nothing like that! Er, uh, well… you see, I was telling a joke and it had a bit of water sprinkling in it and well…” I handed him the film, which Dr. Bones snapped up on the view box. Wow, those tiny sprinkles looked like a miniature pogo stick had bounced across the black film.

“Looky here, girls.” Dr. Bones was tapping on the bone highlighted in the x-ray. “Do you se that small, straight line right there?” The surgeon moved his pen away from the film.

“It is so thin and doesn’t really go all the way across the bone, does it?” Joyce hadn’t found it yet so I stepped back to give her a better view.

“No, it doesn’t and that’s what the problem was. This guy’s complained of an aching pain but the other x-ray just wasn’t defined enough to see this miniscule little line.” Dr. Bones pulled the film down and tossed it back on the desk. “Thanks. I’ll call the patient back and we’ll get him fixed up. No harm done, as far as I’m concerned. I’m pretty sure Jim will have your hide for splashing the film, though, but it should help that it didn’t matter as far as the patient goes.” He gave my shoulder a sympathetic pat and winked at me as he walked through the door to the hallway. There was little doubt that his buddy Jim wouldn’t be winking at me when he saw this film.

Indeed, the pile of demerits added to my name for this carelessness made those given for “training mistakes” seem insignificant. Not only that but I was given extra weekend call duty without the usual merits as punishment. Nope, I would never again tell any jokes that needed water for a punch line. I also hoped that I would soon grow out of such spontaneous impetuousness.

*Dr. Bones was not his real name.

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