Don't get me wrong; I like doctors. On a hot day, an ice cold can of Dr. Pepper hits the spot. Rather, I just think it's stupid that they get a special title. Hence, I refuse to call them "doctor."
Everyone already has a special title. It's called our first name. And so out of respect, I'll call a doctor "Dave" or "Brenda" or whatever name is on his or her birth certificate. "Lucas will be performing your surgery today." But a special special title? That's absurd.
Nobody else gets a special title. Well, Bruce Springsteen is "the Boss." But his fans gave him that title. He didn't go to boss school, run by other bosses, and then declare himself to be the boss. And what's so great about going to medical school? I went to bartending school. I don't get a special title... and a whiskey sour goes down much easier than a colonoscopy.
Some people say that doctors deserve a special title because they save lives. No doctor has ever saved my life. And I suspect that most doctors have never saved anyone's life: doctors who have been out of medical school for two weeks, dentists, podiatrists, Dr. Dre, plastic surgeons. But yet they still get the special title. Doctor Conrad Murray is in prison for killing Michael Jackson. And the kid is not my son.
Let's get something straight. Doctors don't save lives. If you're walking down Hollywood Boulevard after midnight, and Charlie Sheen is on the side of the road, chocking on his own vomit, you don't have to do anything about it. But if you do attempt to help him, you're saving a life... at least for a couple more years. But doctors are not seeking you out. If you have a medical condition, you make an appointment to see a doctor. Then, that person is paid very well to do a job that he or she is required to do. If they perform the job badly, you'll die. An architect was given the job of designing the hotel I'm sitting in right now. And if he did the job poorly, the walls will crumble down and I'll die. Does that mean the architect saved my life?! Should the architect get a special title? (Hell, I might as well be dead. This place doesn't even have a personal spa and sauna!)
Some people say that doctors deserve a special title because it's a sign of respect. Eh, I think you start to lose respect for the medical profession when you hit the age of 30 and realize that the idiots you went to high school with are now doctors. "Greg is a doctor now?! We spent senior skip day at the bong store."
But I respect a lot of people. I respect lifeguards. And they save lives- not just on Baywatch but in real life. But they don't get a special title. ("I'm a big fan of your work, Dr. Hasselhoff.")
I respect my friends, but I call them by their first names... well, I mean when I finally get around to learning their first names. Until then, I just call them "hey, buddy."
One of the great backhanded compliments is to refer to the great Martin Luther King Jr. as "Doctor." I can't stand when television pundits call him "Doctor King." The amazing Martin Luther King, among his many accomplishments, held a doctorate in academia. Do you know the thesis that earned King his PhD? I bet you don't. It was titled "A Comparison of the Conceptions of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman." You're asking, "Who the hell is Nelson Wieman?" Answer: Nobody gives a flying f**k. The man, through the power of his personality and persistence, literally changed the world, bringing civil rights to America!! (I'm talking about MLK, not Nelson Wieman- who was a theologian philosopher who died in the 1970's, in case you really want to know.) Isn't that enough?! Does it really matter what he was studying in school in his early twenties? Do we really need to refer to him as "Doctor?" Personally, I prefer not to "honor" King with the same title bestowed upon Dr. Phil and Dr. Laura. Shouldn't a simple, non-titled "Martin Luther King Jr." stand on its own as a mark of honor and greatness?
It's time to end the doctor hero worship. In medical school, students learn how the body functions. They don't learn what is specifically wrong with you. That's why doctors have so much difficulty coming up with an accurate diagnosis. But at least the waiting room has Us Weekly Magazine.
Doctors are just regular people doing a job. And as in any occupation, most regular people are pretty incompetent. Heck, my stock broker wants me to invest in the Mariah Carey Glitter sequel.
But doctors are regular people with social power, with money. And that's what the special title is really all about. In society, those with social power control the reality of how to address people. It's not a coincidence that whoever is in control gets to decide what you call him, and what he calls you.
Consider the way you interact with a police officer. At parties, you don't call him "officer." At the beach, you don't call him "officer." So when do you use the special title? When you're stopped on the highway for speeding, when he has power over you. And that's when you have to go through the condescending formality in which he asks if you know how fast you were going even though he already knows you know, you suck up, he scolds you, you offer him a bribe, and then you "thank" him for giving you a speeding ticket. (note: From personal experience, I should mention the "bribing" part doesn't always work.)
You only give a policeman a special title during the moment he has power over you. But doctors always have social power, because even outside the office, they still have money and prestige. So they always refer to themselves as doctors. They introduce themselves that way at parties. It's written that way in the phone book, on their license plates. Doctors aren't treating anyone at party, so why would they be introduced that way? At the parties I host, everyone is treated equally; not even the person in charge of timing the orgies gets a special title.
At my place of worship, we honor former members of the congregation, who are now deceased, by listing their names in a ceremonial booklet. And in it, the former doctors are separated by their special title. Even after death, doctors still get a special title! I hate to break it to you, but you can't be a doctor when you're dead. I don't want a dead person treating me... although it might make getting naked less awkward.
In kindergarten, the teacher has power over you. That's why you call the teacher "Mr. or Mrs. Wilson", and the teacher calls you by your first name. (This was especially humiliating because I started kindergarten when I was 27.) Interacting with doctors works the same way. They pat you on the head and call you by your first name. And you look up at them and you call them by their title. But I'm not in kindergarten anymore and I don't agree to this degrading interaction.
Join me, non-doctors of the world! Join me in my revolution to end the stupid, elitist, and illogical occupational title system. We're all equal. Except plumbers. Plumbers are superior. Geez, one time my toilet broke and water was flowing everywhere and it could've destroyed my entire home and then the plumber came to the rescue and... hell, I'll call him any title he wants. Luckily, the water didn't spread to my living room carpet.
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