• Courtney Kirschaum

Summer is coming

Every summer until I was in High School I got Swimmer’s Ear.

Which I think is just a causal way of describing an ear infection compliments of being in the water as much as a fish from May to September.

The result is PAINful.

Today, a video of that bad stuff being painstakingly removed from my ear would be on the Internet. (OMG! Have you seen one of those?) My mom would haul me to dependable Dr. Brown, who would look at my ear and in the most soothing, deep voice imaginable, proclaim “Swimmer’s Ear” and prescribe... something and...

"No swimming," for what seemed like an eternity. 

In our town, Dr. Brown was universally agreed to be the nicest most sensible Doctor ever. Any classmate who received their required physical for school sports, a tetanus shot, stitches (he gave me ten) or anything else, spoke his name with sincere, un-self-conscious fondness. Dr. Brown exceeded even the mythic expectations cast upon country doctors by the likes of visual historians like Norman Rockwell. 

His office, in a square red, brick building, could have been housing the FBI’s 1950’s Alien Investigation Unit, or the IRS. 

It had a common sense location on Main Street behind the volunteer rescue squad. There was no hospital then. This was it.

Before being housed here, Dr. Brown visited people in their homes.  

Now that only happens if you get sick while staying at the Ritz.  The floor was covered in square, super thin tiles; red with white flecks. 

In the back, where the business of doctoring got done, everything was metal. Even the chair you sat in to get your temperature taken (glass thermometer, people!!!)  There was no Muzak (Pandora? Not for years).

Magazines: Highlights, National Geographic (before it became cliché) and perhaps an agricultural catalog or something equally boring to a ten-year-old.  The nurse wore standard white dress uniform with white stockings and came out through double swinging doors and called your name down the narrow, darkish waiting room. 

Trends change.

A doctor’s office became a “practice” and consisted of suit-wearing Mercedes Benz-driving guys (back then, it mostly was "guys." And I’m not that old) who met at med school. 

Carpeted "reception area," fish tank! Bright colors. Music (or something like it) VOGUE!!!!!!! 

It was in a modern strip of white office buildings with narrow, tinted windows, far from the volunteer rescue squad but near the brand new hospital. 

The nurses probably wore a white uniform on the day they graduated from nursing school before switching to the clogs and patterned scrubs you see on Nurse Jackie. None of the furniture was metal.

Hopefully, you go to work more than you go to the doctor.

You don’t need me to tell you that’s changed too.  

I wasn’t working when I was visiting Dr. Brown,  but if I had been, I suspect Human Resources would seem antique by comparison.

Even now, there’s still a myth that the Human Resources department is there to “help” you and “protect” you, like a medic might protect soldiers in an infantry. 

They're the white hat, “good guys” who helped you on-board and get your first paycheck.

They're like a merger of familiar archetypes: Nurse’s office and Principal's office, except... they're not.  They are not the "Black Hat" guys. I’m NOT bashing them.  I’m not bashing bricklayers either, but if you go to one with a ruptured appendix, you likely won’t make it. A lot of people assume that HR is their ally, they are there to protect your employer, not you. My point is that it’s dangerous to assume that you'll receive help and protection from someone whose job it is to "help and protect" another entity:

This episode of What You Need To Know is an eye-opening view into modern HR guidance.

You can watch it below. 


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