Lee Pitts: No one died today
He is an Indian doctor; Indian as in the country, not as in Cherokee, Crow or Choctaw. Although he’d much prefer that you call him an “American doctor” because he was born in this country and has never owed his allegiance to anywhere else on earth but the good old USA. He’d be the first to tell you, there’s no better place.
He’s a great person, an even better surgeon, and has saved more American lives than filter-tipped cigarettes. He has few vices, the worst of which is baseball. He’s crazy about the game and can often be seen wearing a baseball cap on crooked and a Cubs jacket over the green scrubs he wears for surgery. He’s also disheveled and can be forgetful; you never know when he’ll show up for Little League games still wearing those cute little green booties that surgeons wear over their shoes.
The doctor’s son plays baseball for his school, right field, which means he’s always within earshot of the visiting team’s dugout. At a recent game there were more insults directed his way than usual: “You still working at the 7-11?” Or, “Hey, you lost the dot on your forehead.” Stupid, insulting jokes, the kind where kids can be so cruel. If you’ve hung around kids lately you know that many of them need their mouths washed out with soap. Blacks and whites call each other the “N” word, unaware of all the cruelty that word conjures up. They think nothing of using words that my generation has worked hard to rid from our collective vocabulary.
The cheerleader of these sarcastic insults was a white kid, son of the coach and the pitcher in that day’s contest. And boy can he deliver a fastball. One kid swung in self-defense and accidentally connected, sending a line drive right at the pitcher, hitting him at the top of his leg, in the groin area. He went down as if he’d been shot through the heart. Running on to the field the good doctor went to the pitcher’s aid and later explained that there is an artery in that part of the body that, if crushed or broken, can cause a person to bleed out and die in minutes. That’s right, the smart-aleck kid who insulted his son could have been saved by the insulted son’s father.
The good doctor used to coach Little League teams, although not very well. He often struck out trying to hit grounders and flies in pre-game warmups. But the doctor was always supportive and always fair, although he does have another glaring vice besides baseball: he’s often tardy, as many doctors are. I don’t get upset at this tardiness any more because I’ve frequently been the patient the doctors had to spend a little bit more time with, or had to drop everything and run to the hospital for.
Not all patients are as patient. I have a friend who coaches Little League and takes it WAY too seriously. He tells me it’s the duty of the home team to prep the field for every game and it was the good doctor’s turn but he was late again and my friend had to prep the field, although it was technically not his turn. When the Doc finally showed up my friend said sarcastically, “Glad to see you could make it Doc. How have you been anyway?” Acting as though he hadn’t just seen him at the last practice.
The doctor didn’t catch the sarcasm and replied, “I’m sorry I’m late but it’s been a rough day, thank you for asking. I got called in for an emergency surgery and we couldn’t save the young patient. She died on the table just a short while ago.”
My friend felt ashamed and realized that while he’d been drawing chalk marks in the dirt this wonderful man had been trying to save a person’s life. Ever since then when someone asks my friend how he’s doing he replies, “Well, no one died today.” It’s the same philosophy found in the comment, “A non-toothache can be very pleasant.” I guess what I’m trying to say is if you have a spouse who loves you, kids who are healthy and a dog who thinks you’re the cat’s meow, you are very lucky and maybe, just maybe, you shouldn’t get quite so mad if the doctor is running a few minutes late. F