If I was zoning out and ignoring The Whiner’s rants, I might be thinking about the next car I would buy (I have heard, and since found this to be true, that a beginning psychiatrist can expect to make approximately $350,000 per day. I think that is more than adequate, and I could afford to buy at least one new car a week if I had completed—or even started—actual psychiatrist school). I would buy a red car, most likely a vintage Corvette. I would get special personalized license plates: GR8LSNR.
When it would be time to write out a prescription, I might write something in secret code to the pharmacist (it would read “take 4 Xanaxmyphonaglycose every two hours” which the pharmacist would realize means “this patient is a total wack-o! oh, and check out his goofy haircut too! Luv ya, MOV”). But, before I would hand out the piece of paper so The Whiner could get his drugs, I would practice signing my name over-and-over-and-over-and-over on the special little notepad, until my secretary would come in and tell me that we were being audited and had to account for the prescriptions that were not filled (is she for real? can’t I just order more? My name is on there! And speaking of my name, that’s the thing that’s troubling me: should I do a loopy “M” for the first part of my name, or would a jagged and sharp “M” look more respectable?).
Now my next patient comes in and starts whining about her problems too (she is Whiner 2.0). I’m sleepy. I sit there nodding like I am so very entranced by Whiner 2.0’s situation, but honestly, I’m working just to keep my eyes open. If I close my eyes for maybe, what? a minute, two minutes tops? can I pull that off as if I’m actually concentrating really really hard? Think of cars, MOV, think of the red Corvette, wake up before you get fired (again)!
The other thing is: I hear they (doctors) set their own hours. How cake would that be? And herein lies the problem: I would set my hours for, oh, 2 PM—4:15 PM. Yep, that should cover it.
As for what the various Whiner and Whiner 2.0’s talk about, instead of being sympathetic and offering support and good advice (“What do you think you should do?”), I would most likely do what I have perfected to a fine art form: judge. As in, the-reason-you-are-not-able-to-meet-anyone,-Whiner,-is-because-you-live-in-your-mom’s-basement-and-you-smoke-pot-every-day,-Loser! This is probably not The Most Helpful Thing Ever to be thinking when you are someone’s psychiatrist, and, in fact, it probably did not even make it to the Top 10 List of Essential Psychiatrist Phrases (these, by the way, must be committed to memory). Oh, the Top 10 List? well, since you asked:
- How does that make you feel?
- What would you have done differently?
- Did you get anything out of that experience?
- What would you do next time?
- Why were you sad?
- Why were you mad?
- Why were you feeling guilty?
- Can you forgive him?
- How do you interpret that?
- You know payment is due today, and I don’t take your insurance?
I don’t receive what I believe to be an appropriate response. Huh. This is going to be more difficult than I thought.
Later, in a fit of anger, Tall rips up a drawing that Short was working on. Short (predictably) goes ballistic. After I spend a good twenty minutes restoring peace and order to our household, I say with compassion in my voice, “Can you forgive him?”
“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” yells Short, about two inches from what’s-left-of-my-now-pierced-and-shriveled-in-protest eardrum. Psychiatry is not for sissies.
I decide I’ll have better luck at work. I’m at my job at the high-end kitchen store when The Boss is in the breakroom complaining to Celeste about a customer who is a suspected shop-lifter but has the audacity to keep coming back and trying to return the stolen items. I interrupt their private conversation and say to The Boss with as much earnestness as I can muster, “What would you have done differently?”
She looks at me, throws her head back and laughs a hearty laugh. “You want to know what I would do differently, MOV? is that what you just said? I’ll tell you what I would do: I would send YOU to deal with her! Ha! In fact, she is waiting for me at the cash register with yet another phony return, so since YOU seem to have all the answers, she’s all yours.” The Boss smiles a big (shall I call it “sinister”?) smile, winks at Celeste and then looks back at me, and finally adds in a saccharine tone, “Let me know what happens.”
Glad my decades of Psychiatric Improvised Training are paying off, I march on out to the cash register, and pull the next helpful phrase out of my hat, “Why were you feeling guilty?” The woman does not react as I had anticipated. She does not offer a full-blown confession and then give back all the stolen goods; no. Instead, she says, “Are you calling me a thief????????????”
Later, I try my last phrase on a random stranger at the café where I’m standing in line to buy my lunch. She is telling the cashier that Macy’s is having a really great sale. I lean in and say, “What did you get out of that experience?”
She practically hugs me as she wrestles with her giant shopping bags and starts pulling out shoes and scarves and toys and picture frames. “I got a lot out of it! My Christmas shopping is all done now!”
I obviously have a new best friend, for this random stranger has given me a magnificent idea for those on my Christmas list: coupons for Meaningful Psychiatry Sessions with yours truly (at a reduced rate, of course).