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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

You're Going to Get Cancer and Die

In a week or so, I'll have been at my current job for half-a-year. I really enjoy it, as I think you know. I like the patients. I like the coworkers. Hell, I even like the commute. My last job was less than half-a-mile away from my house, and I sometimes walked to work, which was nice. But it really cut into my NPR time. Now, with a commute of approximately 40 minutes each way, I get my dose of the liberal media, and I like it like that.

One thing I don't especially like about my current job is when my coworkers tell me I'm going to get cancer and die.

I eat lunch in my car. I do this for several reasons.

1.) More NPR. (Except, on Saturdays, it's "The Splendid Table" from 12pm-1pm, and there's only about so much pretentious palaver that a reasonable man can take.)

2.) Since we're not allowed to have our cellphones on the unit, I keep mine in the car, so my lunch hour is the only chance I have to check, send or receive text messages, listen to voicemails, fight with insurance companies, send love messages to my wifey-doo, or look at porn. Just kidding-- I wouldn't do that on my phone. The screen is way too small.

3.) I don't like it when people watch me eat, or I perceive that people are watching me eat.

4.) I don't like it when people comment on my lunch, which people inevitably do when you eat in front of them.

Anyway, on Saturday, I violated one of my cardinal rules of lunch (thou shalt not bring any portion of lunch back into the chart room) and I brought back a barely-consumed Caffeine Free Diet Coke into the chart room. Three of my coworkers were sitting around doing nothing-- which they're very good at, by the way.

"Whoa," said one, the moment I set the can down on the table, "Caffeine Free Diet Coke! Look out for this wild and crazy guy!"

"You should see what he binges on at night-- Celestial Seasonings Sleepy Time Tea!" another of my delightful colleagues joked.

"Don't you people have an wild animal to inseminate or something?" I asked, prompting rousing laughter from around the table.

"No, seriously," said the third, a male nurse in his fifties with an ardent love of profanity, "that fuckin' shit'll fuckin' kill you."

The nurse picked up my Coke can and began reading the ingredients.

"Yeah, phenelnuclearwhateverthefuckitis-- that fuckin' stuff will really work into your kidneys. I'm fuckin' serious-- fuckin' cancer. How much of that fuckin' shit do you drink a day?"

Now I really had to fuckin' think about that.

"I don't know, definitely a can every day with lunch. Sometimes another one with or after dinner."

"Jesus fuckin' shit!" the male nurse exclaimed, "that's gonna fuckin' kill you!"

A more eloquent coworker, who writes his patient notes with a fountain pen, said, "They say that the artificial sweeteners actually mimic the symptoms of M.S. but I'm not sure that there's much credence lent to the studies in the '70s about aspartame in lab rats-- the quantities they used would never be able to be consumed in a human lifetime."

"Still," the nurse said, "fuckin' cancer's no fuckin' joke. Neither is fuckin' M.S." He turned to my coworker with the fountain pen. "They say it mimics the symptoms of M.S.?"

"That's what I've read."


"I don't even know what you fuckin' bother with that shit for-- if there's no fuckin' caffeine in it, what's the fuckin' point? It's like drinking fuckin' O'Douls at a fuckin' Fourth of July picnic!"

I pointed to my 20 ounce coffee mug.

"I get plenty of caffeine. Don't worry about me."

And, really, that's the main point that I want to make, on this blog, and in life. Generally speaking: don't worry about me. I'm good. If I want to fry my internal organs with cell-crushing artificial sweeteners, um, let me. In fact, you can bury me with a can of CFDC in my withered, cancer-ridden hand. That would be okay. If I'm cremated, though, don't do that, because that thing could fuckin' explode and blow some anonymous rabbi's beard off.

"You know what I think is funny," I said to my Three Wise Coworkers, "if I hadn't come back from my lunch-break with this can of Caffeine Free Diet Coke, this conversation would have been about something completely different. What do you think we'd be talking about if we didn't have my choice of soft drink to discuss and dissect?"

The male nurse shrugged.

"Fuckin' bullshit, I guess."

You might think that, because I have a blog that I'm automatically some narcissistic dickball who loves being talked about and being the center of attention. Well, on the internet that may very well be true, but, in real life, I'm perfectly happy to come into work, keep my head down, make a few self-deprecating remarks, do unfortunate amounts of paperwork, sign and stamp my name approximately seven thousand times, and go home. Don't talk to me too much. Don't talk about my shoes or my Coke or my habits or my facial expressions. And don't invite me to an amusement park or to Happy Hour or to see "Blue Man Group" with you and your girlfriend.

Jesus. What are people thinking?


  1. My sister does the same thing to me when she sees me put Sweet n Low in my coffee. "That's all chemicals. It's going to kill you!!" This is coming from someone who is about 100 lbs. overweight. I love my sister to death, but she's a bit hypocritical.

  2. I don't smoke, I don't drink, I don't bungee jump, and I don't drive a Chinese-made car. With all the proven risks I'm NOT taking, let me have my measely Caffeine-Free Diet Coke.

    I'll even share it with you.

  3. I think you should bring your soda back from lunch with you everyday and see how long they talk about it. I give it at least 7 business days.

  4. I love the co-workers who say this....but Jesus don't get in their way out the door for the smoke break.

    You will be killed in the stampede.

    That f'n shit will kill you.


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