“Judge not, that you be not judged.”
I have a major character flaw: I tend to look for the best in people. At my age I should know better, since there are many, many times that my innocence has cost me dearly, either in monetary terms or by means of embarrassing me. But I persist in my deviant behavior.
There was the software salesman who took all of my savings when I was starting out in practice. He told me that his son was a med student; that he loved his family. He was nice to my employees. He took my check, installed a defective billing system, and disappeared. I was successful; I had a busy schedule, and I had no money coming in. No way to cover rent and payroll. I came close to losing my office and my credit.
We had a neighbor who poisoned our beautiful, loyal black lab. He was a “law and order,” disciplined guy. The kind that waves the flag and loves his country. He told me that he thought that dogs were “disgusting” because they had to relieve themselves outdoors, in a patch of grass, even if the grass was in my back yard. The day before we were set to move to a different home the dog managed to escape our house in the middle of the turmoil. We found him poisoned two hours later. Our neighbor knew that we were moving the next day. It is as if he seized the only chance that he would have to hurt us.
There was the employee who left the office unattended as soon as I left to make hospital rounds. She would either lock the door and stretch out to read People Magazine, or she would turn off all phones. She was a neighbor’s sister; she was struggling; had no job; needed help. I trained her and encouraged her. I gave her whatever she asked for as salary.
It goes on and on. I have come to terms with my blind spot for others. I listen to my wife and daughters more (I am afraid that my son has inherited my disease, therefore I seldom ask for his guidance). When I am about to give money away, I will write the check for half the amount that first comes to mind. I try to spend more time with people that I know well.
Still, sometimes I fail to accurately perceive new acquaintances. A few years ago, I traveled out of town to go through an ultrasound training course. The new US machines are capable of making diagnoses that elude conventional X-Rays. They are cheaper than MRI’s. They are the wave of the future.
One of my female colleagues went with me. Let us say that she has no trouble saying what is on her mind. She uses language that can make me blush. Although she is much younger than I am she has probably lived more than I have. You could drop her in the middle of a jungle, and she would find her way out; leave her there for a month and she would be elected president. You get the idea. In spite of the gaping difference in our personalities, I adore her.
We have a great friendship. She will come to me for advice, listen to my words, then she will leave and do whatever she wanted to do in the first place. A lot of women that I know are this way: they just need a good listener. We are good together, the perfectly mismatched couple. She used to refer to me as “My work husband.”
The training room was set up by anatomical regions. Shoulder; knee; ankle and foot; wrist; pelvis. The salesmen for the company that makes the machines volunteered to let us perform ultrasounds on them. They were extraordinarily patient in allowing twenty different novices to spread gooey ultrasound gel on them so that we could get adequate images.
Except for the hips and pelvis. This part of the anatomy requires some serious undressing. We were told that a professional model would sit at this table. When I got to this site I saw a beautiful, perfectly proportioned young woman seated at the edge of the exam table. She wore a halter top; she had a disposable sheet covering her below her waist.
I was overwhelmed. I suddenly realized that twenty people, mostly men, would ask this young woman to lie down and bare her pelvis so that they could smother her with goo and then proceed to probe one way or another. I was not about to ask her to remove her drape. The (male) doctor who was with me had no such qualms.
“Can we take a look?” he asked.
She smiled; lied on her back, and slid her drape down. I was mortified. She was wearing very skimpy underwear. It had to be embarrassing for her. We were not saving her life. This was just a training exercise. And she had to suffer this humiliation twenty times; only because she needed the money. I decided to make it better. I would try to relax her.
Do you have any other job outside modeling?
“I go to school; trying to get my degree.”
She’s working; she’s trying to educate herself. Once you fulfill these requirements you can apply for sainthood in my world.
How is it going?
“Some days are tough. Not enough jobs.”
It was my turn to handle the ultrasound probe. I tried hard not to look at her state of undress. I focused my attention on the screen. I did not want her to feel that I was a dirty old man. I got one good view of the hip joint and moved on to the next table as fast as I could.
Once the session was over, my friend approached me. She had a sly grin.
“Enjoyed doing that ultrasound there; didn’t you?” She gently poked me in the ribs.
I hurried to defend myself.
That poor girl! It must be embarrassing for her.
My friend gave me an incredulous look.
“Honey, that girl has taken her clothes off for many, many men before you.”
How can you say that? She’s trying very hard to make it. She is going to school…
She grinned and moved her head left and right several times.
“She has a nasty girl tattoo right on her pubis.”
Tattoo? I didn’t see any tattoo!
“You HAD to see it. It was right in front…”
I was trying not to look. I did not want to embarrass her.
Now my friend is laughing at me. She gives me a patronizing pat on the back.
“She told me that was the skimpiest bikini that she owned.”
Bikini? I thought that was underwear! She walks around in public like that?
I get another pat on the back. She’s not laughing at me anymore. She is feeling sorry for me.
“You poor boy! You need to spend more time with me. There’s too much you don’t know.”
She is probably right. There are days that I feel like I have missed a lot.
But then, if I were someone else, I could not be me anymore.
We make this mistake too often. We marry the love of our life and within a few months we begin to make suggestions as to how he/she could change and improve. Only for their own good, of course. To help them. Nothing selfish about our intentions.
We do this to ourselves. Of course, it is OK to try new things or visit different places. But we go many steps further. We want to be taller, or we envy another soul who is funnier, or prettier, or classier than we think we are. We beat ourselves up. We then get depressed because we never became who we wanted to be.
Should I regret that I missed seeing the tattoo? Only if this were the only thing that I would miss seeing, for all of my life. But the undeniable fact is that we will miss seeing far more than what we get to see. No matter how much money and time you have available, you will never get to experience everything that appeals to you. Live with that reality.
I have decided that I will keep my character flaw.