Marcus Welby, MD, starring Robert Young, premiered on television on September 23, 1969 and quickly gained my rapt attention. So, at 7 years old, I immediately knew I just had to be a doctor like Dr. Welby on TV or Dr. Garrett, my chain-smoking ear, nose and throat doctor in Columbia, Missouri.
Though much less was known about the dangers of smoking in “those days,” and despite his ENT specialty, curmudgeonly Dr. Garrett would light up between each patient until, by roughly 9:45 each morning, an actual cloud would hover throughout his 50s-era office.
But it was his birdlike assistant, Mrs. Hudson, who fascinated me. (Long sentence alert!) Clad in a conventional white nursing uniform and platform shoes; sporting a traditional nurses hat covering vibrant henna-red hair tucked oh-so-carefully under a hairnet; Mrs. Hudson fussed non-stop about the office ushering patients safely through the smoky haze. (Whew!)
In retrospect, I suppose Mrs. Hudson, who appeared to me to be 87 year’s old at the time, was my first real exposure to an ardent multi-tasker—the woman never stopped moving. And between my Virgo astrological sign, and early Type-A tendencies, it’s no wonder she was so interesting for me to scrutinize.
Plus, one never quite knew when Mrs. Hudson would emerge from the smoky haze, grab an unsuspecting patient by the arm and whisk them away to Exam Room 1. It was kind of like a medical Phantom of the Opera but without the music or disfigurement.
But mostly, I was captivated by TV’s Marcus Welby and staff. Every week I watched in wonder; forcing myself to memorize many of the medical terms I heard on the show. Another side benefit was, at any time, I could provide my family and friends a comprehensive recap of each and every Marcus Welby episode.
My Welby-inspired medical knowledge also proved to be occasionally hazardous as I would somewhat carelessly diagnose diseases in my Columbia, Missouri neighborhood. “Uh…Scott, you really should show this to your mom—you may have a diphyllobothrium infection—I’m pretty sure you could die.”
However, imagine the value of having FREE on-site medical care at your disposal 24/7? And all this was possible simply by having a Columbia, Missouri address in close proximity to 2734 Braemore Road in 1969.
Nonetheless, late one night my medical competence was to be put to the ultimate test when I was suddenly awakened by a blood-curdling scream. I promptly vaulted out of bed and entered my mom and dad’s room to determine the scream source and assess the situation.
There was my dad, doubled over in, dare I say it, hemorrhoid-related pain. (Sorry for this dad.) First, how on earth does one simplify the concept of hemorrhoids relative to a 7-year-old’s mental capacity? Yet my brave mother managed to channel Dr. Kiley (James Brolin’s role on Marcus Welby) and elucidated as best she could during our brief triage consult.
Though I now know that pain of that intense nature would most likely have been caused by a “thrombosed” hemorrhoid, in—uh—hindsight, I am pleased my mother did not have that specific terminology at the ready. I would no doubt have heard “trombone” hemorrhoid which would have greatly confused the situation and hindered my ability to provide accurate counsel.
Now that I think about it, “trombone” hemorrhoid is a pretty accurate description for that particular malady though.
At any rate, as soon as my mother finished her rather awkward explanation, I deliberated for a moment, paused briefly, looked my father straight in his bloodshot eyes and stated, “I am sorry, this is something I don’t know anything about. I am afraid I can’t help you.”
I then returned to my room and went back to sleep.
Of course children are supposed to explore many different areas of interest over the years. And it’s always been my belief that the characteristics leading to a child’s most rewarding career path emerge early. It’s extremely important for parents to look for the signs equally early in a child’s development.
For example, my young son Kevin was satisfied playing quietly by himself and, at 24, he’s on track to be a film geek. On the other hand, my daughter Maribeth’s artistic skills surpassed mine by the time she was five year’s old and, judging from the number of tattoos she has designed for her own body, her career path seems best suited to something related to the arts—or dermatology—or both. Ironically, at 23, she’s studying to be a social worker but I suppose there’s always tattoo artist to fall back on.
In the case of 1969’s Randall Kenneth Jones, as I’m not sure doctors should have an “oops” option when it comes to treating patients, it was clearly best that I moved on to consider alternative career goals.
And I did—now I’m a SPIN Doctor!
Marketing guru, business humorist, professional-courtesy advocate, branded-content writer, creative-development consultant, and entertaining motivational speaker Randall Kenneth Jones is the creator of RediscoverCourtesy.org and the president of MindZoo, a marketing communications firm in Naples, Florida.