Monday, January 20, 2014

The Importance of Having the Correct Uniform

article from July 28, 2011
By Jamie Douglas

I learned a small but important lesson a few years ago while living in Patzcuaro, Mexico.

After the many years spent coming and going from Patzcuaro, it was inevitable that my wife and I would lose some of our friends to the grim reaper, as well as seeing the parents of our friends sliding down that slippery slope of debilitating diseases and loss of memory.

One such person was Doña Maria, whose loving daughter Zelda took excellent care of her for many years. Unfortunately, Doña Maria became afflicted with Alzheimer’s. But in spite of being bedridden for the last few years of her life, Zelda brought her out to parties and get togethers as long as she could walk short distances. She seemed to enjoy the company, whoever we were.

Doña Maria never realized how bad off she was and would occasionally sneak out of her bedroom to walk her palatial home. It was after one of those walks that we arrived at her house, only to be ushered into her bedroom. She was lying on her bed, bleeding from a wound on her forehead. I was told of the circumstances surrounding how she got the wound and had a good look at it, deciding that she would need a few stitches. The local hospital was out of the question, as she was in no shape to be transported.

So her granddaughter, Laura, and I set out to find a doctor who would make a house call at midnight. We knocked on many doors and went to the pharmacies that had to stay open late, all to no avail. Finally, we were directed to the local morgue, where the coroner was busy with the victims of an automobile accident. Laura explained the situation to the coroner, and he agreed to go with us, as he was a friend of the family. Pointing to the corpses on his tables, he stated calmly, “They will not be going anywhere.”

He followed us down to the house and made a quick examination, and it was at this point that Doña Maria started to get combative, so we had to hold her down on the bed. The good doctor needed to go get sutures and assorted other items. He returned about half an hour later with a sack of goods and proceeded to scrub his hands in the sink. Going back to his bag, he extracted all that was necessary, plus what looked to be a white lab coat. But when he began to put it on, we saw that it was actually a gas station attendant’s uniform bearing the logo of the national oil company, PEMEX, which he put on inside out and then slung a stethoscope around his neck.

I looked at him half-laughing about the PEMEX logo, and he explained to me that he felt the white uniform lent him authority and made him look like a real doctor. With that, we went back to Doña Maria’s bedroom where, by now, the whole clan was part of the restraint team. But what a magical transformation occurred when the PEMEX guy entered the room: Doña Maria got visibly excited and stopped fighting, turning into a little girl and murmuring over and over, “doctor, doctor.”

The coroner proceeded to give her the once around brightly, not paying too much attention to her wound, until he pulled out a very small syringe and filled it with Xylocaine, a local anesthetic, continually talking reassuringly with her and holding her hand. And when he felt the time had come, he quickly sewed up the wound with three or four stitches.

Doña Maria did not flinch and neither did she want the doctor to leave, so he stayed around until she fell asleep. He refused payment except for the materials he had to buy, which excluded the white jacket. He had just gone to the gas station and borrowed one from one of the attendants.

Mission accomplished, and I learned that sometimes, the uniform does make the man!

Jamie Douglas
San Rafael, Mendoza
Where the Malbec Wine is Always Fine!

I encourage you to write me at cruzansailor [at] gmail [dot] com with any questions or suggestions you may have. Disclaimer: I am not in any travel-related business. My advice is based on my own experiences and is free of charge (Donations welcome). It is always my pleasure to act as a beneficial counselor to those who are seekers of the next adventure.