Monday, May 4, 2009

I interrupt this thread to give you a story

Okay, last week I was talking to the IT guy at the AGD. We spoke of how the blog was going. You know things like, are people reading this? And things like are higher ups excited about the way things are going.
I think they are happy and indeed people are reading this thing. It is very nice to hear that we are getting about 2200 readers a month.
So it surprises me that I pour my heart out to all of you about my wife being pregnant and only ONE person commented.
I feel like I have relationship with all of you and quite frankly your relationship skills stink.
It hurts when you don't call me.
(you know I am just kidding, I have much thicker skin than that).

Watched a movie called Flash of Genius this weekend. Greg Kinear plays a guy that invented the intermittent wiper blades. When he pitched it to Ford they told him they were on board. Then they told them they were off board and the next thing you know it Ford has intermittent wiper blades. The movie is the 12 journey and the destruction of his life to get an admission of guilt from Ford. It was pretty good. It is just sad.

I want to interrupt our associate thread to talk to you about something I did on Friday.
It is fresh in my mind and I don't want to wait.
As you know I help people in need. There is no form you have to fill out. There is no questions you have to answer. If you are in pain and can't afford it I want to help.
Okay now the word is getting around.
As you know pastors are calling me. Para church directors are starting to call me.
You also may know that I battle who to help.
I think often about when is this going to stop and more often I think about how far is this going to go or how big is it going to get.
So a "friend" called me up and asked if one of his students was in pain.
Now this man runs an organization called Jobs Partnership.
This is an Christian organization that teaches people job skills. Now this is not a white collar kind of people group.
I mean one of the first things that they teach is to be on time. Now this is something that I have learned just growing up. I learned to look at people in the face when they are talking to me. I learned please and thank you.
Skills you would think are innate. So at Jobs Partnership they have to start from the simplest skill.

Now this woman comes to see me.
Now before I go on I want to tell you about my assistant. We have been working together for 13 years. She has the freedom to say what she wants to me. She is respectful and is always looking out for my best interest and the practice.
But she has a breaking point. It was Friday and my other assistant was on vacation last week. So we worked like dogs all week.
Beth, the patient, calls all morning having my office staff run all around trying to find out who she is. See I talked to my "friend" and told him to have Beth call my cell phone and we could work it out. Now he told her to call me and when she got a hold of me to tell me that Mark sent her.
So she calls my office and tells my staff that she knows Pastor Dallas.
Finally after about 9 phone calls we figure out who she is (see what I mean about simple skills).
Next on the adventure Beth calls and says she can't find the office.
So Beth shows up late and my assistant who already is a bit cynical is annoyed. My assistant is working her ass off and Beth is coming in with a, "How many teeth can you fix for me today" attitude.

Now let me tell you that one of the reasons I do this kind of thing is to minister to my staff. I have an opportunity to show the love of Christ to people that don't deserve it. To people that I don't even know.
But you see my staff also sees people, who have jobs and are working very hard to make ends meet, pay full price. And these same people that may struggle to pay the bill.
So to my staff some people look and act like they deserve it and others don't.
This is a tough one.

So I look in Beth's mouth. She has beautiful anterior teeth and a train wreck in the back.
She has decay (cavities) everywhere. She is hurting on the lower right side and she has two teeth broken down so bad that they are not fixable. I told her that these are the two teeth I would address today.
Again the hardest part about working with Beth is her attitude. It seems like we are just another government agency that she is mooching off of. She doesn't have an attitude that we are taking time out of our busy day to do $500 worth of work FOR NOTHING.
She isn't falling over backwards thanking us.
She isn't thanking us every time we walk in the room, maybe the way you and I would receive an undeserved gift.
I worked on a family this kid a couple of months ago and every time the mother talked to me she would weep with gratitude.
Beth was not like this. I introduced myself to the man she brought with her and he didn't look at me in the face. He didn't even tell me his name.
He stayed in the room with us during the procedure and talked and played on his touch screen phone the whole time.
As we worked to get these teeth out she went on to tell us she had two kids.
She had her nails done up, you know the 1 inch jobbies that have all these painted designs on them.
So we finish talking the teeth out and she said thank you like if I had just opened the door for her.
It was kind of a surreal experience. I didn't want to face my assistant because I knew what she was thinking.
So it wasn't long after Beth left that the discussion between my assistant and I began.
She was HOT!! She was mad at me and I knew it. She thinks I give stuff to people that don't deserve it.
She spells it out for me. This woman is 25 years old, two kids, no job, mouth that is like a train wreck and is not thankful.
She brings in her low life boyfriend that is also jobless, has a touch phone and is also not thankful.
I get it. I see how she would be ticked off.
I see what it looks like to her.
But I said to her, "Don't you feel sorry for people like that."
She said, "NO!. She has made her bed now we have to sleep in it."

Don't you see that it is not that Beth and her boyfriend choose not to be thankful. The problem is that have never been taught to be thankful. Look at the skills that they don't have.
If you and I were going to pick up something that was worth $500 somewhere, we would call in advance. We would mapquest the address. We would be there early and be so gracious.
Beth has never been taught the most basic skills that we take for granted. I feel sorry for them.
Granted I am a bit annoyed but mostly I have compassion.

I don't know where to go from here. I just wanted to tell you this story.
What do you think? I would like to know. Maybe after my associate thing we will come back to this.
Hope you have a great Monday.


Anonymous said...

Hey Dr. Gammichia,

I did say a prayer for you and your wife. I appreciate the family situation you describe, more than you know. We can talk at a JC meeting or in Baltimore.


Debby Sutton said...

1. are you coming to Baltimore -- if so, we're doing lunch.

2. I emailed HG about good news.

3. teaching gratefulness -- it is learned, it is taught - your kids don't learn to be grateful unless you model it for them. And they understand what they do/don't deserve without you showing them - in their life and your life.

4. do I still think you are the coolest dentist ever? Hell ya! And that assistant is kickin' too!

Amy said...

I didn't comment on the pregnancy thing because I congratulated Hilda in an email and in person....but hey, again, CONGRATULATIONS!!! Another Gammichia in the world is a GOOD thing.

Hard one about the ungrateful woman. Why is it that so many people who talk about not having any money have manicures, expensive cell phones, nintendo, and dish tv?

Connie said...

I read a lot of blogs of ER physicians, ER nurses, paramedics, and others in health care. I hear the same stories over and over. I probably read 40 blogs and I might as well read just one because they're all the same. Everyone frustrated with people who either are on Medicaid or are self-pay (meaning never-gonna-pay) who act entitled and fill the ER with complaints of runny noses or trying to get free pregnancy tests or whatever, or calling the ambulance like it's a taxi. It starts to burn me up, considering the huge chunk of taxes I pay.

But you're right. Although these people are maddening, it's really just sad, because they never learned any better, and they probably never will. I like your perspective. I needed to hear that viewpoint.

Although it must frustrate you that people will buy booze, cigarettes, lotto tickets, fancy cell phones, manicures, pedicures, fancy hair highlights, cable TV/internet, car stereos, EVERYTHING, but don't want to pay one dime for their dental care. It's the same for their medical care, I assure you.

Congrats on your pregnancy, I'm so happy for you guys! It's the biggest blessing of all.

Take care - Connie Keehn

Anonymous said...

Sounds alot like me (as a fallen person, sinner, etc.)! Just so glad God saved and provided the work (through Christ) for me, even as ungrateful as I am!

You are modeling Christ when you serve the unloveable, ungrateful, thankless people in your community-keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

John Congrats to you and your Wife.

Karma is the great equalizer in life. I am a firm believer in what goes around comes around in some shape or form.

Unknown said...

Accidentally came across your blog this week... I love it! As a Christian dentist about a year out of dental school, I find the few entries I've read thus far so encouraging. Thanks!! I can't wait to catch up on some your past entries.

p.s. Congrats on your expecting baby!

gatordmd said...

Finally you people comment.
Thank you, thank you for all of them. It makes me feel so good.
(kind of a sigh of relief that people are actually reading).
And Jane, I am glad you like it and I hope you stay for a long time.

Eli said...

Seems to me you just received a picture of the gospel and how we tend to walk before our Father. We are distracted, ungrateful, and entitled. And what does the Father offer us...kindness, long-suffering. John, your heart is right on. She may be a pain, she may have nice nails but she is needy and broken...maybe, just doesn't see it yet. What an opportunity before your staff to say, "you are right, she doesn't deserve it. But I too have been given a gift."


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