One day my wife called at the end of office hours and asked me to pick up a few items at the grocery store. Hanging up the phone I cringed because sometimes a trip to the grocery store for me turns out to be time consuming or an ordeal.
I once went to the store to pick up six items and became interested in the nutrition labels. So interested that I began looking at items that weren't on the list. When I arrived an hour later my wife asked what took so long. I told her I discovered that some products seemed to make false claims about low cholesterol and fat. She mumbled something.
Anyway, I'm in the store looking lost between the aisles when a patient I hadn't seen in several years walked up. I remembered her to be in her early forties, but she looked much older, being a heavy smoker. Nicotine has a way of making a woman's skin look reptilian-like, which is a sad thing. She could've been younger but I learned long ago to never ask a woman her age and to always, when asked, tell her that her hair looks nice.
So after the polite greetings, she told me she'd been having flank pain. She provided a few details, then asked what I thought was causing it. I shared a few things it might be, leaving out ovarian cancer since I remembered she was a rather hysterical lady and I didn't want to worry her any more than she was worrying, but in the same breath urged her to see about it right away. I told her that only with an exam and a few tests could the cause be identified.
The encounter reminded me of what my uncle, an obstetrician-gynecologist, once shared. He was never bothered much by the off hours public consults until one day, when tired after a long week with little sleep from midnight deliveries, he was attending a gala at some big wig's home when a woman walked up and after sharing way too much information, asked for medical advice. Acting stern and serious, he said, "Honey, in order to make a diagnosis I'd have to do an exam. There's a bedroom over there." Not meaning of course to really go. He said that was her last public office visit.
Anyway, on checking out, the lady with the urinary tract infection had just bagged her groceries and was leaving. I paid for my things, eager to get home and eat supper. As I approached my truck, which happened to be parked two slots over from the lady with early shingles, I saw her bending over her left rear tire, which happened to be very flat.
So when the angel on my shoulder whispered, I offered to help after she said it would be two hours before her son could assist her. I thought about using my AAA card but thought again how that would break the ninth commandment, misrepresenting her car as mine. So we hauled out the jack as I prepared to get my hands dirty and do my good deed for the day, forgetting to call my wife and tell her I'd be late.
After putting the spare tire on she thanked me and offered to pay me for my mechanical expertise and I declined of course. I urged her again to have that kidney stone looked into. She said she would.
I drove out the parking lot, feeling noble and all, and was almost home when the announcer on the radio said something about the price of a barrel of oil, about which a hungry fellow couldn't care less. But it reminded me of my deceased mother, when once asked about the rising prices of gasoline, she quipped, "I don't care how high the prices get. I gotta go to the store, church, and other places."
It was then I looked into my rear view mirror in time to see a Honda Civic screech its tires and rear end my backside. The driver was a young girl who'd been texting (probably her boyfriend with whom she was having an argument) and she apologized head over heels. The impact was not hard enough to hurt anyone. We waited for the police who assessed the situation.
My truck's tailgate was dented and couldn't be lowered. The poor girl, who was in her early twenties, with a good hairdo by the way, had her Honda's grill and hood crumpled up, like a stepped on beer can. Her car looked disabled to me but then again I'm just a doctor. The cops called a tow truck and hauled the mangled heap off to the jeers of motorists many of whom who, I'm sure, were hungry and late for supper like me.
I continued on home thinking how no good deed goes unpunished, wondering how if I'd not been delayed by the lady with the ovarian cancer that I'd already be home eating my red beans and rice -- with mayo no less.
When I arrived home my wife asked what took so long and I told her I got waylaid and shared the details of how I helped one damsel in distress but was integral to another's grief. She mumbled something about how long it'd been since I'd changed a flat tire -- hers -- and then finished preparing the three large pork chops from Fayard's, with mashed potatoes and gravy, and green beans, with tomato slices on the side with mayo plopped on top.
I laughed, as I ate my very healthy meal, reflecting on the saying, "No good deed goes unpunished." And I'm smiling now as I read back over this story, remembering that someone once said, "A day without laughter is a day wasted." I hope you chuckled and that your time was not wasted reading this silly story, which of course is untrue.