Teaching In Increments*


*Disclaimer: due to the coronavirus, and in support of social distancing, and against the numerous false misleading claims and actions propagated by their insane leader and members of the republican party. I want to make it perfectly clear that these “events” happened years ago and in no way am I suggesting to disregard the safety and health of those around me by insinuating that I was teaching in person and in real life.


My day consists of saying: “this is a run-on sentence, an unneeded comma, capitalize proper nouns, common nouns need not be capitalized, stay in tense, has vs have, that vs which, this is a comma slice, your modifier is dangling, subject-verb agreement, please stop abusing your thesaurus, semicolons aren’t commas, possessive nouns need apostrophes, so do most contractions, use punctuation with quotation marks, period with abbreviations, make pronouns and antecedents agree, this is a sentence fragment, this is a sentence fragment, this is a sentence fragment, maintain consistent verb tense, use a comma before a coordination conjunction joining independent clauses, this is a wordy sentence: avoid unnecessary repetition of words, and cut empty or inflated phrases, use spell check, use spell check, use spell check, proofread your work…” And none of them seem to be listening.


Annoying Student: “how am I doing?”
Me: “meaning?”
AS: “am I passing?”
Me: “how do you feel you’re doing?”
AS: “don’t know, its why I’m asking.”
Me: “you’ve done the work, submitted all the assignments?”
AS: “missed a few.”
Me: “what’s a few?”
AS: “four or five, maybe six.”
Me: “so that’s at least 250 off the minimum 1000 points needed to graduate.”
AS: “man, that’s totally harsh.”
Me: “what is?”
AS: “the way you doing me like that.”
Me: “what’d I do?”
AS: “took those points away.”
Me: “I didn’t take away any points.”
AS: “you just said you did.”
Me: “you didn’t do the work.”
AS: “so I don’t get the points?”
Me: yeah, that’s how it works.”
AS: “totally harsh, man.”

Annoying Student #2: “What can you say that’ll make my writing better?”
Me: “nothing I haven’t already commented on in your work. Which you seem to have ignored.”
AS#2: “surely, there’s more? Fast track instructional procedural information, unsystematic definitions, the discourse of analysis, cultural preconceptions?”
Me: “unsystematic? …what exactly are you asking?”
AS#2: “how do I achieve an A?”
Me: “so, like what’s the secret to writing a college essay?”
AS#2: “yes, absolutely. The formula.”
Me: “what do you think we’re doing in class?”
AS#2: “assignments.”
Me: “and they’re just sort of arbitrary, going in no real direction, serving no purpose other than to make you do work you find boring?”
AS#2: “yes, yes. It’s like make believe. I want to write real essays.”
Me: “but that’s different then what you asked. So what’s a real essay?”
AS#2: “you know, important stuff.”
Me: “ah yeah. Such as?”
AS#2: “I don’t know.”
Me: “you don’t know what you want to write about, or what’s important?”
AS#2: “just want an A in the class, and if you could, just tell me how.”
Me: “pay attention to my comments, revise you work using said comments, and push yourself trying harder with each assignment.”
AS#2: “I can’t believed you won’t help me.”

Last night, 2 English 101 classes back to back, three hours, me lecturing on MLA style: formatting and citing sources – and I only said fuck once. New personal best record, ever!

Creepy Student Lurking in Campus Bathroom: “hey, man.”
Me: “oh, no.”
Creepy Student’s Equally Creepy Friend: “hi.”
Me: “just once I’d like to piss in private.”
CSLiCB: “what’s your opinion of the classics?”
Me: “the classics?”
CSECF: “you know, Moby Dick, Heart of Darkness, Catcher in the Rye.”
Me: “um… why?”
CSLiCB: “don’t think we should have to read that crap.”
Me: “because?”
CSECF: “it’s old.”
Me: “what you wanna read instead?”
CSLiCB: “Odd Interlude.”
CSECF: “World War Z.”
Me: “what the fuck are those?”
CSLiCB: “Dean Koontz.”
CSECF: “Max Brooks.”
Me: “future classics, I’m sure.”
CSLiCB: “you don’t read Koontz?”
Me: “don’t think anyone reads Koontz, it’s more like connect the dots with a crayon.”
CSLiCB: “whad-a-ya mean.”
Me: “prefer to read someone that knows how to actually write.”
CSECF: “that’s cause you’re old.”
Me: “yeah, I’m a classic.”

Today’s back to school special: “fuck me, am I really going into the classroom again?”

Creepy Student in Classroom: “Dude, we need to talk.”
Me: “did you just call me dude?”
CSiC: “ok, ok, Mr. O, I’ve ishes.”
Me: “ishes? What’s an ishes?”
CSiC: “issues.”
Me: “sayin’ issues is too much, ya gotta go txt on me?”
CSiC: “whoa, Mr. O, all I wanna know, am I gonna pass this class?”
Me: “remember that thing we had last week called spring break?”
CSiC: “yeah?”
Me: “remember that announcement, make up missed assignments over the break?”
CSiC: “yeah?”
Me: “did you?”
CSiC: “no, I was on break.”
Me: “then you’ve answered your own question.”
CSiC: “I don’t get it.”
Me: “I know.”
CSiC: “so, am I gonna pass?”
Me: “think you’ve too many ishes.”
CSiC: “what’s that mean?”
Me: “hell if I know?”

Thug-Lite Student: “ain’t feelin’ assignments.”
Me: “ok, what about them you don’t like?”
T-LS: “they’all jus whack.”
Me: “yeah, got that. But is it the type of writing, essay format, subject matter?”
T-LS: “subjects be hella lame.”
Me: “alright, now we getting somewhere.”
T-LS: “stuff jus ain’t be no affectin’ on my life.”
Me: “you don’t think writing about the economy is relevant?”
T-LS: “hell no. Thas fo folks gots jobs, and houses.”
Me: “ahhh. So what’s your interests?”
T-LS: “wanna write ’bout ol’ school hardcore hip hop.”
Me: “like Public Enemy, NWA, Geto Boyz, Wu-Tang?”
T-LS: “nah, nah, nah… Nelly.”
Me: “say what?”
T-LS: “Nelly.”
Me: “what’s a Nelly?”
T-LS: “Nelly hella ol’ school.”
Me: “ah, no. No he’s not.”
T-LS: “he like, at least forty.”
Me: “whoa.”
T-LS: “see, thas-wha-Im-talkin-bout.
Me: “the answer’s no.”
T-LS: “wha-chu mean?”
Me: “no Nelly, no way.”
T-LS: “hows ’bout Chris Brown?”
Me: “how about you stick with economy, then maybe a three page paper on why you don’t have a job.”
T-LS: “always keepin’ a brutha down.”
Me: “Bob, you’re white kid from the valley, only down thing in your future is failing this class.”
T-LS: “but…”
Me: “just keepin’ it real, dude.”

He said, “dude, what kind of English teacher are you? All you do is swear.”
Me: “fuck you.”

Hotel Front Deskman: “what brings you to 29 Palms?”
Me: “teaching a workshop in Joshua Tree.”
HFD: “oh, photography?”
Me: “no, writing.”
HFD: “usually they’re photography.”
Me: “really? That’d be hard, I’m not a photographer.”
HFD: “well, yes. Just never heard of a writing workshop out there.”
Me: “maybe it’s never been done?”
HFD: “maybe? You a nature writer?”
Me: “ah, no.”
HFD: “history?”
Me: “memoir.”
HFD: “concerning?”
Me: “drug addicts and bank robberies.”
HFD: “you should fit in quite well out here.”

Annoying Student: “don’t think I’m gonna make it this semester.”
Me: “that makes two of us.”
AS: “no, mean I’m not going to be alive.”
Me: “really?”
AS: “been diagnosed with a terminal disease.”
Me: “sorry to hear that. What disease, if you don’t mind me asking?”
AS: “it’s complicated.”
Me: “well, none of them are exactly simple.”
AS: “rare blood disorder, genetic mutation, Y chromosomes, X factor…”
Me: “seriously? That sounds like the Hulk, or Wolverine.”
AS: “my brain hurts.”
Me: “ok. So, you’re telling me this, why?”
AS: “don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to do homework.”
Me: “ahhhh, ok.”
AS: “may have to be excused, last few weeks.”
Me: “like, during finals.”
AS: “unfortunately, it appears that way.”
Me: “well, don’t know what to tell you…”
AS: “isn’t there a hardship plea?”
Me: “this isn’t a court of law.”
AS: “what about, medical deferment?”
Me: “definitely need a written statement from your doctor.”
AS: “I’ve this.”
Me: “uh huh… your mom’s a doctor?”
AS: “well, no.”
Me: “don’t mean to be rude, but she misspelled your name.”
AS: “she’s illiterate.”
Me: “that would mean she couldn’t write at all.”
AS: “I’m dying here!”
Me: “yeah, and you’re killing me.”

Overly Stressed Student: “what if I can’t write a final paper?”
Me: “what do you mean?”
OSS: “might not be capable.”
Me: “in what way?”
OSS: “I’m overwhelmed, just don’t know…”
Me: “what’s overwhelming about it?”
OSS: “putting words on paper…”
Me: “what have you been doing all semester?”
OSS: “yeah, but those haven’t been ‘final’ papers.”
Me: “oh… so is it the ‘final’ aspect of it?”
OSS: “yeah, it’s so…”
Me: “final?”
OSS: “exactly!”
Me: “Ok, so let’s say you don’t hand in the final paper…”
OSS: “yeah?”
Me: “then you don’t pass, or get an incomplete, have to do it over…”
OSS: “um…”
Me: “then you’ve another semester dreading this exact same moment.”
OSS: “that would totally suck.”
Me: “just putting it in perspective.”
OSS: “maybe final’s not so bad.”
Me: “final says no more English 101.”
OSS: “final’s sounding pretty good.”
Me: “final is your friend.”
OSS: “ok, Mr. O’Neil, thanks.”
Me: “aren’t you glad we had this final moment?”

Nervous Student: “how many classes do we have left?”
Me: “today and then next Wednesday.”
NS: “so, two?”
Me: “ah, yeah.”
NS: “when’s the semester end?”
Me: “June 2nd.”
NS: “no class that week?”
Me: “2nd’s a Tuesday.”
NS: “so when’s my final paper due?”
Me: “June 2nd.”
NS: “and I can’t hand it in during class?”
Me: “you submit online.”
NS: “really?”
Me: “ah, like all the other assignments this semester?”
NS: “ok, so about those other assignments…”
Me: “yeah?”
NS: “what if I haven’t handed in some?”
Me: “what’s ‘some’?”
NS: “like, ah, most.”
Me: “try and give me a number that best describes ‘most’.”
NS: “none?”
Me: “really?”
NS: “I was sick, a lot.”
Me: “for four months?”

Academic Recruiter: “we’ve a position open that you’d be great for.”
Me: “really? That’s awesome.”
AR: “tenure track, assistant professor, specializing in nonfiction.”
Me: “ok, like I said, awesome.”
AR: “and the ability to teach in multiple delivery modes would be preferable.”
Me: “multiple delivery modes? What ‘mode’ do you mean, besides nonfiction?”
AR: “the emphasis is nonfiction with poetry as a secondary field.”
Me: “did you say poetry?”
AR: “you’d be facilitating one to two poetry classes each semester.”
Me: “um… not really sure I’m qualified for that…”
AR: “all part of the creative writing workshops and technique courses.”
Me: “uh huh, I understand. But that’s the problem.”
AR: “ah, in what way would that be a problem?”
Me: “couldn’t really tell a student whether their poem lacked technique.”
AR: “content is content, and the rules of grammar apply as well.”
Me: “really? Like don’t capitalize that word. Oh and here, leave out all punctuation?”
AR: “Mr. O’Neil, I’m not an educator, teaching writing isn’t my forte.”
Me: “exactly. And poetry isn’t my forte. It’s not even in my vocabulary.”
AR: “but you had a book that was published in France!”
Me: “um… yeah?”
AR: “French! It’s the language of amour. Poetry.”
Me: “you know I didn’t write it in French.”
AR: “no? Hoping you’d also takeover the French literature courses as well.”
Me: “don’t think we’re on the same page here.”
AR: “how about teaching Haikus? Three lines. How hard can that be?”
Me: “um… I’m hanging up now.”
Academic Recruiter: “no wait, hold on…”
Me: “seriously, I can’t teach poetry.”
AR: “ok, ok, how about fiction as the secondary field?”
Me: “well, yeah, I could work with fiction…”
AR: “post apocalyptic, dystopian, alternative history?”
Me: “speculative fiction?”
AR: “yes, I do believe that is the term used.”
Me: “um… how did you decide to recruit me?”
AR: “the department head reads your Facebook posts.”
Me: “ah… that’s it?”
AR: “think he’s on your twitter feed as well.”
Me: “what, no pinterest?”
AR: “pinterest? I’ll have to ask.”
Me: “I was joking. Don’t actually do pinterest.”
AR: “oh, ha ha. Ever known the beauty that is upstate New York?”
Me: “you mean like a Syracuse kind of beauty?”
AR: “actually, Fredonia.”
Me: “what’s a Fredonia?”
AR: “quaint little village on Lake Eerie.”
Me: “I don’t really do quaint…”
AR: “the Bills and the Braves both have training camps there.”
Me: “not even sure what that means.”
AR: “perfect locale for the outdoorsman.”
Me: “um… I’m not really big on nature.”
AR: “craving the big city? Buffalo’s an hour away.”
Me: “honored that you’d consider me, but…”
AR: “there’s a state of the arts Walmart for all your shopping needs…”
Me: “um… I’m definitely hanging up now.”

Never fails: every semester there’s a student who is an artist, or writer, or some beaming impressionable creative type that submits a drawing, or badly written short story, or a goddamn poem in lieu of a standard five paragraph research essay (which in truth is a format I abhor) and I have to crush their dreams of creative expression (well, at least in this class). “Dude, there’s nothing fun about the formal college essay!” And just when did this happen? Just when did I become the guardian of the standard college essay? Ugh. I’m working for the Man. No, I’m prostituting for the Man!

Yup. I’m a ho.

Of course if one of them ever handed in a really awesome bit of writing, I’d let it go, leaving them grossly ill prepared for writing a college level paper… But hey, who is really prepared for shit in this world?


This entry was posted on Saturday, May 2nd, 2020 at 12:47 pm. Leave a comment. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

My Father, Wayne O’Neil



My father died last Sunday morning. I was awakened by the call around 3 am. His partner Maya told me he’d passed away and I couldn’t find the words to respond. He’d been sick for the last two years. Cancer and chemo and his body hadn’t reacted well to both. Final diagnosis was Leukemia—a direct result of the chemo’s radiation “therapy” destroying his immune system. My father had been despondent, tired, and detached. He felt the medical world had failed him and didn’t want to spend his last days in a hospital just to die amongst the uncaring surroundings of beeping heart monitors and endless blood draws.

Six weeks ago, another Sunday, my father called to tell me he had Leukemia and he’d made the decision not to seek treatment. I had just finished buying vegetables at the Hollywood Farmer’s Market, my usual Sunday morning thing to do. I was sitting in my car. Numb with fear and regret. My father’s voice faint and calm. “I have to come out and see you,” I finally blurted out.

My father lived in Somerville, Massachusetts. Just over the border from Cambridge, a few blocks from where we lived when we first moved to Boston. When I was nine years old he’d completed his Fulbright and been appointed professor of linguistics and education at Harvard University. It was 1965. Vietnam was in full swing. He protested the war, refused to pay his taxes, and the FBI froze his bank account. By 1968 he found his home, professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Ultimately becoming chairman of the linguistics program, and then head of the department for linguistics and philosophy. He was well liked, loved and admired. Noam Chomsky was his friend and colleague.



A month ago I flew out to see him. He was very sick and even though we didn’t get a chance to talk much, I still was able to tell him I loved him. He said, “I had a picture in my mind that I’d just come home, lay on the couch, people would come by, and then I’d quietly die. But that isn’t happening.” I flew back dreading the inevitable outcome.

In the darkness I fumbled for the words that weren’t coming. I held the phone against my ear well after Maya had hung up. Earlier in the evening I’d had a feeling. I’d known my father was going to die that night. Yet I still wasn’t prepared. My first selfish thought was what a fucked up horrible son I’d been. I felt the shame of my father having to come to terms with his son the junkie bank-robber. Self-forgiveness is hard. In fact it’s impossible. I cried tears. I said I was sorry. I spoke out loud to the spirit of a man that didn’t believe in the afterlife. My heart ached. I can only hope that everything I have done in the last twenty years has made up for every fucked up thing I did in the previous thirty. I’d like to think he was proud of me. The picture used in a few of his obituaries was of him reading the French version on my memoir, so I’ll take that as a sign that he was. I know I was proud of him. I hate that I’ll never see him again.

There is never enough time in this life.

Hold those you love close.


Wayne Albert O’Neil 1931-2020


Boston Globe Obituary

Linguistic Society Of America

MIT Linguistic Facebook


This entry was posted on Sunday, March 29th, 2020 at 2:10 pm. Leave a comment. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

Conversational Anxiety


Political Telephone Solicitor: “did you know your vote counts!?”
Me: “counts for what?”
PTS: “it’s your right for change!”
Me: “ah, I keep voting, shit keeps getting worse.”
PTS: “but imagine if you didn’t vote.”
Me: “you wouldn’t call me?”
PTS: “no, how bad everything could be!”
Me: “it could be worse than this!?”
PTS: “yes! Much worse!”
Me: “well, thanks. You’ve cheered me up immensely.’
PTS: “voting is not only your right, it’s your voice!”
Me: “but no one is listening.”
PTS: “I’m listening!”
Me: “but you’re just some nutter on the phone.”
PTS: “I’m your local Democratic representative for progress!”
Me: “I’m registered Green Party.”
PTS: “oh…”
Me: “guess you’re not listening any more, huh?”

Male Voice on the Phone: “Hello, Mr. O’Neil? This is Geffen Playhouse. We’d like to invite you back for this year’s season.”
Me: “invite me back?”
MVotP: “our records show you’re a former season ticket holder.”
Me: “no, I’ve never been…”
MVotP: “yes, yes, you have.”
Me: “no, no I haven’t.”
MVotP: “I’m terribly sorry sir. Are you sure?”
Me: “well, you’re probably right. I do drink a bit, could’ve slipped my mind, and them damn Oxycontins screw up a man’s memory, make it hard to put on clothes just to leave the house. Although, I still get out, even with that pesky indecent exposure conviction from attending a performance of Rent at Pantages in 2009. Don’t see what the fuss was, just adjusting my underwear. You do have a smoking section, right? Gonna have any plays about prison sex this season? …Hello?”

TeleMarketer: “Mr. O’Neil?”
Me: “maybe.”
TM: “is Mr. O’Neil there?”
Me: “why?”
TM: “I’ve a great opportunity to offer him.”
Me: “run it by me first.”
TM: “well, okay, who am I speaking to?”
Me: “why does that matter?”
TM: “just need to know who I’m talking with.”
Me: “is it required, or are you just inquisitive?”
TM: “not really comfortable not knowing.”
Me: “you’re calling me uninvited and now you’re uncomfortable?”
TM: “well, I’m…”
Me: “when someone I don’t know calls, I’m uncomfortable.”
TM: “ahhh…”
Me: “my life feels intruded upon.”
TM: “but…”
Me: “all of a sudden, my privacy gone, and it’s awkward.”
TM: “sir?”
Me: “is this where you apologize, then hang up?”
TM: “…”
Me: “hello?”

AT&T called to ask why I canceled my Internet service. It was a sad conversation. The caller and I were almost in tears, “why did you leave?” she said. “Because you weren’t giving me what I need,” I answered. “Come back, I’ll try harder,” she sighed. “It’s too late,” I whispered. “Why!!??” she wailed. “Because you suck!” I yelled. It felt like we’d been dating for years.

Bank Employee: “sir, can’t tell you exactly when your new ATM card will be delivered.”
Me: “not what I’m asking, need the tracking number so I can call.”
BE: “ok, but my records show it was to be delivered Friday.”
Me: “was here Friday, like all day, no delivery.”
BE: “UPS guaranteed a Friday delivery.”
Me: “wonderful. Still, there’s no card in my hand.”
BE: “hmm, I could recall it, then send another, only take 2 days.”
Me: “y’all canceled my card because YOU got hacked, sent a new one through a company that’s inept, left me without cash for the weekend, and now want to extend that courtesy 2 more days?”
BE: “apologies for any inconvenience.”
Me: “more than just inconvenient, it’s abusive.”
BE: “my records show you eligible for our diamond preferred card, with unlimited cash access, and bonus thank you points…”
Me: “could we stay on subject here?”
BE: “better than an debit card, plus you can make payments with %0 APR for 18 months.”
Me: “this is your best solution?”
BE: “get it to you in 5 business days.”
Me: “can I talk to your manager?”
BE: “I am the manager.”
Me: “the next sound you hear will be me blowing my brains out.”
BE: “so, is that a no on the diamond preferred card?”

Tele-Marketer: “Mr. O’Neil?”
Me: “ah, no.”
TM: “you’re not Mr. O’Neil?”
Me: “no, I’m not.”
TM: “is Mr. O’Neil at home?”
Me: “he might be, but this is a cell phone you’re calling.”
TM: “Oh, so who am I speaking with?”
Me: “someone annoyed you’re calling their cell phone.”
TM: “if I could, like to speak with Mr. O’Neil regarding an investment opportunity.”
Me: “I’m driving right now, you’re not only annoying, but forcing me to break the law.”
TM: “um…”
Me: “that’s all you have to say, is um?”
TM: “well, I, I, ah…”
Me: “what if I crash, burn up and die? That’s blood on your hands!”
TM: “…”
Me: “hello?”

Telemarketer: “sir, what would you say to winning a Florida sea cruise vacation?”
Me: “I’d rather you just shoot me now.”

Blocked Caller ID: “Mr. O’Neil?”
Me: “ah, yes?”
BCID: “mind taking a quick survey.”
Me: “in regards to what?”
BCID: “our service people handling your issue.”
Me: “well, if they handled it, what’s the point?”
BCID: “this is for quality assurance.”
Me: “whose quality?”
BCID: “ah, ultimately yours.”
Me: “how’s annoying the fuck outta me add to my quality?”
BCID: “your input makes us a better company!”
Me: “but I had to call twice to get you to fix it.”
BCID: “yes, and we thank you.”
Me: “by calling me again to take a survey?”
BCID: “actionable feedback involves us all.”
Me: “really? And what’s your role in the scheme of things?”
BCID: “team leader for data analysis.”
Me: “team leader? Wow, I’m honored your leadership.”
BCID: “yes, I want to assure you we truly care.”
Me: “so what’s a team leader do exactly?”
BCID: “I define and evaluate our agent’s applicable skills.”
Me: “nice. So what happened that you had to call to me?”
BCID: “I’m not sure I follow you?”
Me: “um… you’re chatting the masses, why aren’t you leading?”
BCID: “well, we all put in work, regardless of hierarchal structure.”
Me: “what the hell, y’all communists down there or something?”
BCID: “you know, you could’ve just said no to the survey.”
Me: “were’s the fun in that, leader-dude?”

Unsolicited Telemarketer: “I like to take a minute to talk about your spending habits and how we could help you.”
Me: “take a minute? Since you’re already costing me sucking up my cellphone minutes, what more do you want?”
UT: “little negative today, are we?”
Me: “who are you, my mom?”

Academic Job Placement Phone Interviewer: “have you ever been arrested?”
Me: “arrested? Only arrested, not convicted?”
AJPPI: “well, yes. That is the question.”
Me: “now does that seem fair to you?”
AJPPI: “excuse me, what do you mean?”
Me: “is someone less credible because of an arrest?”
AJPPI: “ah… I’m not comprehending the issue here…?”
Me: “arrested is suspicion, nothing’s proven.”
AJPPI: “oh ok, yes, that is true.”
Me: “if you said ‘ever been convicted’ it’d make more sense.”
AJPPI: “just following protocol…”
Me: “like who hasn’t been arrested?”
AJPPI: “well, I’ve never been arrested.”
Me: “so let’s say I have, then what?”
AJPPI: “I make a notation, we continue the interview.”
Me: “has anyone ever admitted they have been?”
AJPPI: “no, not that I can recall.”
Me: “think you’d hire anyone that said yes?”
AJPPI: “ah… I’d have to confer with my colleagues.”
Me: “so, that’d be a no?”
AJPPI: “final decision would be up to the dean and faculty.”
Me: “with an arrest being the deciding factor?”
AJPPI: “ah… candidates are considered on a case by case basis.”
Me: “you do background checks then, I assume.”
AJPPI: “not necessarily, we do trust our applicants.”
Me: “well, that’s a relief.”
AJPPI: “so… ever been arrested?”
Me: “um… no?”

Unlisted Caller: “hello, Mr. O’Neil?”
Me: “um… yeah?”
UC: “hi, this is Jane, from Dr. _____’s office.”
Me: “um… yeah?”
UC: “it’s time for a colonoscopy!”
Me: “…”
UC: “Mr. O’Neil? Hello?”
Me: “um… yeah?”
UC: “we need to schedule you.”
Me: “really? Didn’t I just have one?”
UC: “that was well over three years ago.”
Me: “my how time flies…”
UC: “so how’s next week sound?”
Me: “a bit too impending.”
UC: “we’ve an opening for next Monday.”
Me: “don’t think I’ve an opening.”
UC: “excuse me?”
Me: “Jane, how open are you to an anal exam?”
UC: “what? Not sure I understand?”
Me: “I don’t want a colonoscopy.”
UC: “but you have to!”
Me: “really? Now how’s that going to work?”
UC: “well, we can’t force you…”
Me: “I know. Goodbye.”

Unlisted Caller: “hello, Mr. O’Neil?”
Me: “um… yeah?”
UC: “hi, this is Jane, from Dr. __’s office, again.”
Me: “uh huh, ok.”
UC: “you still haven’t scheduled your colonoscopy!”
Me: “well, I, ah…”
UC: “I’ve left several messages.”
Me: “I’ve been kinda busy.”
UC: “sir, don’t you think you owe it to yourself to get checked?”
Me: “I’m not sure ‘owe’ is the word I’d use.”
UC: “what better way is there to say I’m healthy?”
Me: “I could think of maybe a 1000 other better ways…”
UC: “aren’t you going to feel pretty silly if you have cancer?”
Me: “if I have cancer, silly will be the last thing I feel.”
UC: “this is a preventive procedure, be in the solution!”
Me: “does this sort of shaming usually work with your patients?”
UC: “usually I don’t have to chase them down.”
Me: “can’t believe I’m the only one that doesn’t want to do this.”
UC: “actually, right now we’re booked, there’s a month wait.”
Me: “a month wait!? Damn, I’m busy next month.”
UC: “you’re busy all of August?”
Me: “yup. and September’s not looking good either.”
UC: “Mr. O’Neil, I find that hard to believe.”
Me: “Jane, you’re sort of cynical, huh?”
UC: “at least I’m not delusional.”
Me: “awh, now you sound grumpy.”
UC: “it’s your health. You can die a horrendous death if you want to.”
Me: “thanks Jane, always love talking to you, bye now.”


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