I Guess My Choice of Career Was Laughable
Afflicted From The Start
My humor imp first showed itself very early in my career. Seeing as we’re all friends here, I’ll be brutally honest. Back in the day, not only was I young, and I was pretty dumb as well.
Dumb in that I was still trying to find my relevance in the world. And hey, what better way to find one’s relevance and validation than by trying to impress random strangers by managing troubled medical practices. (I did mention that I was young and dumb, didn’t I? LOL
… Good grief.
Mounting My High Horse
Yes, I was still in that ‘I-think-I’m-a-bag-of-chips-and-all-that’ phase of my career that some people go through. (Okay, the phase I went through.)
This made me as happy as a pig in poo: I had many ‘projects’ and ‘challenges’ to keep me from getting bored.
I was unaware of it at the time, but apparently, my inner child was running amok. Humor somehow found its way into the contents and delivery of my very serious training sessions. I learned of this quite by accident one day when I was training on a new billing system being implemented in a OBGYN office.
As I was leaning over, pointing to something on a trainee’s monitor, this young woman quizzically inquired if I’d ever done stand-up comedy. She added that if I hadn’t, she felt I’d certainly missed my calling.
A couple of other staff members spoke up, agreeing with her. They added they hoped I’d be doing all of their training sessions because [quote]: “You’re such a hoot! You make it so easy to learn.”
Insert the sudden sound effect of a phonograph needle making that harsh scratching sound and the irritating sound of fingernails scraping on a blackboard.
Hmpfffff … Cough …. Cough
Upon hearing those words, I bristled and stood up — ramrod straight! Deep in thought, I turned my head up and raised my chin slightly to the right as I proudly began stroking the lapels of my black designer-label business suit jacket.
Talk about ego! All I was missing was the red ‘power tie’. [Eye roll.]
Oh. No. She. Didn’t! I said to myself as I thought about what had been said about me. I raised one eyebrow and pondered her just calling ‘moi‘ a “hoot”.
Yep, she certainly had! Deal with it.
911 Course Correction
Then came the major epiphany, hitting me like a ton of bricks.
I realized right then that if I ever I planned to be taken seriously and given the respect that I was sure I was entitled to as a healthcare professional, I was going to have to disown my humor … or at least find a way to silence it during work hours.
So, that’s precisely what I did.
Light a bolt of lightning [!] I slid over and commandingly took possession of the chair marked ‘D’ in the Dominant sector of my DISC personality profile. I did it so fast that I got friction burns on the right side of my thighs.
Hitting The Mute Button
From that point forward, with one hand clamped firmly over my humor imp’s mouth, I functioned as a stoic [ahem] ‘pro-fess-ion-al’ for extended periods of times.
Able to work unencumbered without interruptions and bleed-through from my wild, funny side, I consistently improved performance metrics and physician revenue for client practices.
I parlayed each practice gig into another. A series of increasingly higher-paid opportunities followed.
That’s not to say that I was 100% carefree during this time. No, I still had quite a battle on my hands at times. I was forever having to slap that sassy little SNL skit writer inside me back into subjection so as not to blow my cover. She was always trying to rise up.
As the [$$$] stakes got higher, I worked harder and longer each day. My workweek expanded to include most evenings, nights, and weekends. Soon I found myself without the time, energy, or will to continue my wrestling match with her.
Living With The Guilt
Please note that I am very ashamed of what I am about to tell you. We all have regrets, and many of them stick with us, plaguing us throughout our lifetime. What I am about to tell you is one of those things.
I did something terrible to someone who, as it turns out, always had my back, someone who has been my closest friend in life.
Deep inside, I didn’t want to do what I did. But — blinded by self-centered ambition and the drive to make my mark in a career—I did what I thought was best at the time.
I called the men in white coats to come to handle my pesky humor imp for me. Even worse, I consented to the restraining and straitjacketing of my dear, wonderful, playful inner child. I even signed the consent form permitting them to duct-tape her mouth!
Nevertheless, She Still Got The Last Laugh
Bless her heart, as they were wrapping those long arms of the straight jacket around her torso and buckling them behind her back, she showed her never-say-die resiliency.
She was intuitive enough to know that her influence was affecting my career. She knew that her snark was inappropriate for where I was in my life then. And most endearing was that she wasn’t even the slightest bit offended by what was going down.
Instead, it was at this stressful time that she modeled for me a vital object lesson on the value and strategic advantage that having a healthy sense of humor can provide in times of stress.
Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow
She used her last minutes to verbalize something that she knew to be true — something she knew that I was too self-absorbed to admit openly.
She understood that I had always [secretly] enjoyed her pesky ‘interruptions deep down inside.’ She knew that her outburst had always entertained me.
So as they picked up the duct tape and began to tape her mouth, she blurted out: “You know you laughed … I heard you laugh! … You laughed … You laughed … You laughed!”
A Very Cinematic Exit
She gave me an unforgettable farewell glance, quickly wiggling her mouth back to see if she could loosen the tape edges.
As was her plan, one side began pulling away from the skin at the right corner of her mouth; she quickly clenched her jaws and thrust her tongue through to finish the job from the inside.
By this time, she was being wheeled down the hallway backward. With her mouth now free, she winked at me and, in her best Austrian/Arnold Schwarzenegger Terminator accent, yelled back at me: “I’ll be baaaack ….”
For years I moonlighted as a serious healthcare administrator. These days I am flying my humor flag and enjoying life. I write to dispel the rumor that I rode off quietly into the sunset. Smile and enjoy the ride. Life is good.