Closed Professions, Closed Minds

Email Print
FacebookTwitterShare

Just
went to the dentist recently.

My
dentist and I have a special relationship. She tells me how to care
for my teeth and I do whatever she says. For the best part of fifteen
years I have brushed, flossed and gargled my way through adulthood.
I buy large bottles of mouthwash EVERY TIME they’re on special,
10% off. I have a well-used tooth brush, and dental floss canister
at work. Heck. I even paid for ongoing dental work through several
years of college studies, despite thinking I could have USED that
money for something useful like food, clothing, or a recommended
text on the reading list. But I digress. The point is that you might
think that my twice yearly encounters with a trained urban professional
should be pretty unexciting.

Not
at all.

I
have suffered most of my adult life at the hands of various dentists.
And I’m no serial dental hopper, swapping from one to the other
in the hope that a change of chairs might improve the quality of
the picture. I usually persist with them (the dentists, that is)
for five to ten years at a time. But I’ve noticed that despite the
differences in age, gender and model of BMW, all of them have sung
the same song: you don’t care for your teeth. And until recently,
I generally joined the chorus in a reluctant exercise of unenthusiastic
self-flagellation comprised of guilt, remorse and expensive
dental bills.

Nothing
could be further from the truth. Working with customers straight
from school, I quickly learned the value of clean breath. Dental
hygiene became another plank on the path to self-enlightenment, sometimes
called adulthood. Or so I thought.

In
the ensuing two decades, I have usually presented at the house of
pain twice a year to undergo the familiar round of cleaning, checking,
and removing. And that’s just from my wallet. Going always reminds
me of some of the used cars I owned when I teenager, and then a
uni student. Every time the car went to the garage, I had the
expectation that yet another part of the engine was conspiring against
my meagre savings. And thus would go the routine regardless of where
it was played out – under the bonnet, or in my mouth.

This
most recent dental visit there was one distinct difference. I was
expecting it to be even worse than normal. There’s something to
be said for having low expectations. I find that if you start a
day being morose and extremely unhappy, either the day’s events
can confirm your opinion of it, in which case you’ve lost nothing
really, or it can only get better. Some days I realise the value
earned from that graduate psych degree.

After
the usual solemn inspection and customary cleaning, she remarked
that it was good to see I was taking better of my teeth nowadays.

Come
again?

It’s
very noticeable over the last year, she says casually. I’m glad
you’re taking better care of them. You must have changed your diet
for the better, she says.

But
I’ve actually eaten more sugary foods than ever before, I protested,
to no effect. I make my own cakes slices and biscuits. I drink my
own cordial, dripping with sweet castor sugar and flavoured with
citric acid. I eat more chocolate than the Easter Bunny could realistically
deliver working overtime. My diet is overflowing with the tasty
blessings of meat, sugar and fat.

Oh
yes, she says quite happily. Improving your diet will boost your
immune system and help your teeth repel decay. That’s quite normal,
she says. Sometimes people when they become adults find that their
teeth stabilise for a bit, she goes on.

I
look her fully in the eye and see a familiar sight. I’ve seen it
a lot in the past year. It’s that look people get when they’re convinced
the person they’re addressing is just a smidgen loopy. And just
a layman, in their eyes. My heart sinks, faster than the Titanic,
but just as inevitable, like ice cream melting on a hot Brisbane
day. Having just rammed a brick wall, I resist the urge to verbally
back up the ship and try ramming it a few more times.

Getting
a bit awkward with the two-second silence, the smiling urban professional
says, Well, keep up the good cleaning work. See you in six months.

I
can’t take it any longer. I take my car keys off the bench and demur
more politely than I should. After all, thanks to the health insurance,
it’s not as though being patronised cost me. Much. I turn down
the fluoride chaser and slink out to sign forms and swap mundane
chat with the receptionist.

Driving
home I determined to celebrate the milestone with something appropriate.
Being patronised by a professional who refuses to listen gets tiring
after a time. Whether it be dentists who don't listen, financial
advisers who promote real estate investment, or politicians stumping
for re-election, I find their point blank refusal to contemplate
any opinion other than their own tiring. So I went home and celebrated
with a piece of home-made, high sugar chocolate slice. And further
pondered the wisdom of the u2018professionals' we deal with everyday.

Most
days we deal with plenty of people whose views differ from our own.
Sometimes we’re right, sometimes we’re not. But what has become
more evident over the past year is that the tolerance preached by
our publik skools only goes so far. It's a brand of nanny-state
tolerance that says unless you have a piece of paper from a publicly
funded place of advanced partying, your opinion will be overlooked
and unheard. Step over the line and you’re automatically classified
as “one of them.” Some type of weirdo, tie-dyed, non-mainstream
alternative. Before the Daily Reckoning and Lew Rockwell,
I used to be part of the crowd and some days I miss the u2018security'
of stamping with the sheep.

Life
can be an interesting journey. For me it has certainly taken some
unexpected turns over the past year or two. But the current status
is that my dentist now doesn’t take me seriously. I should be getting
used to it. Most days I try not to either.

August
10, 2005

Darren
Tulk [send him mail] has
too many university degrees to be viably employable, so he works
for the Government. A cheerful pessimist, he likes doing the Ludwig
von Mises “Am I an Austrian quiz” and usually reads the Daily
Reckoning (sometimes every day). His roles models are the Mogambo
Guru and Ron Paul. He hopes to one day get a real job in the private
sector.

Email Print
FacebookTwitterShare
  • LRC Blog

  • LRC Podcasts