Dietrich’s Adventures in Dentistry
I got an email reminder today from a dentist I saw six years ago when I had no money, no insurance, and a raging tooth that needed to be extracted. I ended paying the sunnuva bitch ninety bucks for an unnecessary exam because the dentist couldn’t accept that, yes, in fact, I knew exactly which tooth I wanted removed. Evidently, I was too suspect a witness for my own pain. So he took pictures and verified on his computer monitor that indeed the tooth in question was the very molar I had pointed to. “Sorry,” he said, I can’t remove that one. It is too far back in your mouth and you need a specialist to take it out. You will need a referral. The receptionist will give you one on the way out. Have a nice day.”
After paying the bill for the examination I didn’t have the money for the tooth extraction. The penicillin I got free of charge at the pharmacy took the pain away, which was good, because I needed the money for a set of tires. No car, no job. There is no choice.
Seven months later, I had enough money to pay for the extraction of the tooth, which had been screaming over the nerve rails to my brain for a couple months. I went to the specialist, who informed me that I needed a new referral as the one I had was older than six months. “Let me get this straight, I have to go to the dentist who took my money because he has bills to pay and kids to feed, as though that makes it okay…I have to pay him again to affirm that I know which fucking tooth needs to be pulled?”
“Sir, please don’t raise your voice” the receptionist quivered. I could tell she was used to irate people standing in that very lobby.
“I won’t do that any more” I said as calm as could be. And then I picked up the water cooler and threw it against the wall, breaking a lamp and splattering water all over the five people waiting on the other side of the room. One was an off duty police sergeant who tackled me and bruised me with his shoulders and elbows for a minute while repeatedly telling me to settle down. Informing him that I wasn’t resisting didn’t matter. Standard police training. I didn’t like it, and when we got up I kicked a table against a wall. I never did read the police report to find out how it gave me a black eye and a bloody nose. I don’t recall a whole lot after that.
It was a bad day. I ended up in jail for eight months and lost my job. Had to go to a twenty three year old probation officer once a month who kept saying he could smell booze on me and that I had to make sure I am “keeping my nose clean.” Motherfucker, I never went into his office with booze on my breath. Must’ve been the deodorant, the shampoo, or the toothpaste. Or psychology. Perhaps it is assumed that since I am part of the system and he has to deal with me I deserve to be part of it for a reason. So, just appeal to my own guilt and let me convict myself. The only conviction that mattered to me was that I would always be in a fight with my own impulsive rage.