Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Jerry's Warning

     Just as I am placing the glass jar with home-made peanut butter cookies on my desk and reaching for my white lab coat, Jerry, my billing clerk, scurries in and shuts the door behind us.
     "Dr. C., I need to talk with you," he says, all the words rushing together.  "Please, please, if you don't do anything else for me please do this one thing."
     "What is it?" I ask calmly, in the way one person attempts to balance another's extreme emotional state.
     "Dr. C., you've got to get rid of that post on your blog!"
     "Which one?"
     "Th-th-the one, you know, about the F-F-B-I," he stutters.  He is bug-eyed and a little shaky, but I can see he means to be sincere.
     There are a lot of posts about the FBI," I reply.  "In fact that's my problem:  the FBI."
     "You know the one I mean, "he insists, as though I am pretending to be dense.
     "Is it the one about the FBI agent falling off the roof?"  This post got a lot of hits, and I am still trying to figure out why.  Do people like the image of a policeman falling off a roof?
     "Well, that's not great either," he asserts.  "But I'm referring to the one about"--and now he utters the words under his breath, "how to scam Medicare."
     "What's the matter with it?" I want to know.  Did Jerry not appreciate the tongue-in-cheek writing?
     "Oh, my God, Dr. C., you can't be serious!" he says with exasperation.
     We'd forgotten about Tom, the nursing assistant who was sitting in the corner of the room doing research on the computer.  He's an over-polite college student who works part-time at the clinic, and perhaps I hadn't given him enough credit for having the courage to speak his mind.
     "It's a satire, Jerry," he says.  "I think everyone gets that."
     "But what if the FBI reads it?  They're not going to think it's funny!"
     "Jerry," I say placatingly.  "Let's give the FBI a little credit.  I'm sure they would see the post as a message about the state of Medicare.  I'm trying to show that doctors aren't the culprits."
     "Dr. C.," Jerry replies, and I realize that he thinks I am feigning indifference.  "You have got to understand that telling people how to commit fraud is not going to go over very well with the government. You're making them look bad."
     "Isn't it obvious to you that the piece is a spoof?"  I ask.  "I'm not giving people an instruction manual for defrauding insurance companies."
     "You're mocking them," Jerry tells me, and now he is crossing his arms in front of his chest.  "The FBI doesn't take kindly to that."
     "How do you know?" I ask.
     "I used to work for Medicare," he says authoritatively.  "You can't challenge the system.  You're going to get yourself into a whole lot of trouble."
     Tom chimes in again.  "Jerry, you've got to look at the entire blog.  She's just telling her story.  People have a right to do that.  Dr. C. isn't insulting anyone."
     "Dr. C.," Jerry says firmly, as I slump into my chair and look for my stethoscope.  There are patients being triaged for me in exam rooms up and down the halls, and I am feeling restless.  People don't like to wait for the doctor.
     "Please, Dr. C.,"  Jerry leans over me, his hands gripping the edge of my desk, his knuckles turning white.  "Do this as a favor to me.  I'm just trying to help you.  Please take down that post."
     "Do you think I should stop blogging?"  I ask.  "Because I don't want to stop."  The writing is like a form of rehabilitation--and it helps to have an audience.
     "Can't you just write a John Grisham-type novel?"  he wants to know.  Finally there is a smile moving like the shadow of the wing of a dove over his face.
     "Can't you just write a bestseller?" he continues.  "I really don't want you to get in trouble.  I just want us all to keep our jobs."
     "Okay," I say.  "No problem.  One bestseller coming up."
     Then he opens the door, releasing me to my day.

1 comment:

  1. Could it be that i'm the AKA Jerry in your blog? There are numerous items in this blog that we discussed about. If I am the AKA i appreciate your discretion in not revealing my name. Once reality sets in, you will be a top seller with the types of novels that John Grisholm publishes and will surpass him by far.