Act One


“Why are you always so damn perky?!???” She scowled at me, a used tissue clutched tightly in her fist.

“It’s an act.” I shrugged.

“An act?” She looked taken aback.

“Exactly. I play a role when I am here. Who wants to pay to hear about their doctor’s problems? So I smile and I fake it.” I smiled a perky smile at her. “Your cough started on Tuesday, you say?”


108 thoughts on “Act One

  1. Kudos to you for being real. I increasingly feel pissed off at our society’s tyranny of positivity. This post made me think. Perhaps it isn’t necessarily the “positivity” that is the problem…it’s that people pretend that it is real. It is the lie offered as a “truth.” It is that specific turn, the turn you didn’t make, that sets up a domino effect of dehumanization and shame. There’s nothing wrong with an ideology, we all have one, it’s the lack of awareness of our own specific ideology and being blind to its construction that is the tyrant. Thx for making me think about this.

    Liked by 4 people

    • “Perhaps it isn’t necessarily the “positivity” that is the problem…it’s that people pretend that it is real. It is the lie offered as a “truth.”

      Exactly. It’s the airbrushed model – the impossible standard. It makes people think that there’s something wrong with them if they’re not perpetually happy, making them go to extraordinary lengths to get an endorphine boost because we’re never supposed to be…not happy. It has taken me a while to convince my husband that ebbs and flows are normal.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I once worked for a miserable man who in the midst of berating me for some offense I hadn’t even committed, told me “and you could try to be more … well … perky.” Halloween was a few days after that, and I came to work dressed in a big blond wig, long dangly earrings, and a huge perky smile on my face. Everyone thought it was hilarious, except that guy I reported to, but he wasn’t management, and everyone knew he was a jerk.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I commented to my eye doc (female) that she always looks pulled together and was upbeat. She said she learned early to keep her “business” out of her “practice.” I later found out that she went through a painful divorce (is there any other kind) but her patients couldn’t tell.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I appreciate it that you fake it. When I was fighting for my life, the doctors who did not come off as positive were not very welcome in my room. They often ended up being wrong too. I still talk to a couple of the doctors who helped me regularly, and to know now what they were keeping hidden just for my sake is truly stunning.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I appreciate this about everyone I encounter. Drs, cashiers, teachers, neighbors, waiters. I know some of them have that fake smile plastered to their faces and there’s pain behind the eyes, but it does make everyone’s day better when we’re pleasant. Faking it is exhausting, but encouraging, and it’s nice when they do the same for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. When I taught sociology, I discussed “roles” we play in various situations. The question always came up” then who are we really? It’s rhetorical, of course. I can never strip away the situation, thus the role, leaving a pure version of “me.”

    Liked by 1 person

      • I am deeply flattered–and very much pleased! But I am not yet posting again. Not for an unknown while. I just needed to write this one up to get it out of my system in a sanitized way before I sent some version of it to every member of the hospital board. I believe I can send the entire Appointment section to them pretty much as it is in the post.

        Versus sending it to the Complaint Dept.

        I will be mailing the entire simultaneously to the LA Times and the free weeklies, and note this in the cc’s on the copies to the Board members. They are fortunate I don’t directly identify their facility.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, Victo. I don’t understand this most particularly from an oncologist who knew this was my first visit to find out if I might have vaginal cancer. To me, it reveals that he does not care about patients as people.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Hmm…I should think it depends on the patient. If it’s as simple as a chronic cough, then yeah, act upbeat and perky. But if it’s life and death…I wouldn’t know myself, but I’ve read so many books where the main character is on his deathbed and hates all the doctors who smile like nothing’s wrong. They like the ones who are honest and realistic about the situation. Keep your own problems out of the workplace, naturally, but I see nothing wrong with not being perky. Personally, perky doctors kind of annoy me…but that’s just a personal preference, and I can see I’m outnumbered.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I feign being perky most of the time. Lately, I have not always been so perky. I actually got called on the carpet from someone I work with who is a chronic complainer and grumbler. She had the balls to chastised me for not being perky. Seriously. There are perk-sucking vampires who come and suck the perk right out of you.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I am really responding to the comments about being smiling. There are certain types of jobs, working with the public, where you have a responsibility to smile and welcome them. It can be a gentle warmth or full on perkiness like me. There is a truth to if you fake it, you make it. I don’t know how many customers have told me that I am a ray of sunshine – we both benefit (I have depression and anxiety). One of my favorite doctors is perky, another exudes gentle warmth but I won’t go back to anyone who makes me feel unwelcome.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Sometimes faking it works to actually change my mood. Not when something really bad has happened, but on those days when I just want to stay home, but I’m too responsible to stay home. But there are limits. We have to have time to be ourselves, so we don’t forget who we are. .

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve noticed that whenever someone says an automatic “greeting” to me, it doesn’t matter what I say back to them. They always continue talking as if they’d heard what they planned to hear.

    For example, the other day at the bank, the teller smiled and perkily said, “Good morning, how are you doing today?” I responded by pushing an envelope across the desk and saying, “I’d like to deposit this please.”

    The teller took my envelope, and in the say voice she’d previously used, said “Oh I had a little cough yesterday, but I’m doing great today!”

    She didn’t even need me to be there for that conversation…

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Whoops, I’ve thought that about my psychiatrist.

    Until one day, because I was grieving, he asked if he could share an episode of loss in his life. I said yes, and he shared very briefly with me how he had recently lost his father, with whom he had a very conflicted relationship.

    I felt it was really damn genuine, in a society saturated with “cut off negative people!”

    I felt suddenly that we were equals – both mourning loss. And his eyes were very very slightly wet.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I have read these in reverse order and they were equally as thought provoking as reading 1 to 3. We are a product of our past but not necessarily defined by it.
    I wonder were we all that little girl once upon a time?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Pingback: Curtain Call… | Behind the White Coat

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