A few years ago, my book club had tackled a couple of substantial novels. We read The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis, Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot to name a few. As the holidays were approaching, we decided to lighten up and choose a fun, easy read for December. We were going to read The Trouble With Angels by Debbie Macomber. The review said, “A delightful sequel featuring three heavenly but feather-brained angelic messengers. Inspired by the success last Christmas, Shirley, Goodness, and Mercy return to answer the prayers of three troubled mortals and ensure a holiday season filled with love and joy.” Just what the doctor ordered for a light hearted Christmas read. Or one would think… until you encounter a “real” doctor who thought otherwise.
While reading this book, I had an appointment with a dermatologist (who shall remain nameless.) He kept me waiting for over an hour, but thanks to my simple read, I was entertained. However, any time in a waiting room is too much and after 60 minutes, even with a good book, I was starting to get annoyed. Trying to stay positive (remember it was Christmas and goodwill was to be promoted), I kept quiet and kept reading. Finally, I was called into the exam room where I donned a pair of paper shorts and waited some more. Finally, the door opened and in walked the doctor. I handed him my book to place on the counter so I could give him my full attention. He placed his attention on the back cover of my book where he read the above summary. In a very patronizing tone, he read the entire cover taking up my valuable time and my dignity. Slightly embarrassed, I explained that my book club group was intentional in choosing literary fluff for the season. I knew at that moment that I would not be returning to see this doctor again. Not only was he condescending and arrogant, but he made me wait and then wait again, and then wait even longer while he took the time to read a jacket cover! i sincerely believe that he treated me in this way based on what I was reading. He judged me.
Fast forward a few years when once again I found myself in a waiting room. I had fallen and broken my hand and as a distraction, I took along my book club book to pass the time. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. The door opened and in walked the doctor. I handed him my book to place on the counter so I could give him my full attention. He briefly placed his attention on the title and said, “Wow. A little light reading? I’m impressed.” We went on to discuss the book as he treated my hand and he treated me with dignity and respect. He, too, judged me. I believe, my treatment in both cases was based on the book in my hand.
Journalist PJ O’Rourke said, “Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it” and I have to agree. I promise you that I now am mindful of what I am reading when I head to the doctors’. I pick up the book I am currently reading and if I am satisfied that my doctor would approve, I take it with me. If not, I just reach under the seat of my car and grab my copy of War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy and head into the office. I hold it in my hand and then scroll through Facebook or Surf the Web on my phone until the exam room door opens. Judge away!