Monday, May 29, 2023

For this we invented the internet

An email saying you are about to get more email.

Thank you, Mike!

Monday, May 22, 2023

Life in these United States

Mary: "Dr. Grumpy's office, this is Mary."

Mr. Hatt: "Hi, I need to make an appointment with Dr. Grumpy."

Mary: "Okay... Sorry, we've gotten a lot of calls the last few days... our next opening for a new patient is in 2 weeks, on..."

Mr. Hatt: "TWO WEEKS? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? That's ridiculous!"

Mary: "I'm sorry, it's just been crazy this week. If you'd like I can make you an appointment and put you on a waiting list if anyone cancels?"

Mr. Hatt: "So how many of those people with appointments ahead of me are illegal immigrants?"

Mary: "Excuse me?"

Mr. Hatt: "I know you people give preferential treatment to illegals instead of real citizens. It's all over the news. So how many illegals are on your schedule ahead of me?"

Mary: "Sir, I don't know if any of them are, and I schedule people as they call in and the calendar fills up. There is no preferential treatment."

Mr. Hatt: "Oh, bullshit. I'm not that stupid. I bet I could call the DHS and they'd clear out your lobby in a heartbeat. Actually, they probably wouldn't, since they favor them, too."

Mary: "Okay, I'm going to hang up the phone now."

Mr. Hatt: "So you're an illegal, too? Figures."


Monday, May 8, 2023

1-star review

Craig and his team are at an out-of-state competition, representing Big State University. The other night I was dozing off when he texted me.


Monday, May 1, 2023

Unsolicited offer

Dr. Grumpy: "This is Dr. Grumpy, returning a call."

Mr. Ink: "Hi, I'm Mike Ink. I have some extra rooms at my place and was hoping to sublease them to a doctor looking to expand his practice with a satellite office. I was wondering if you're interested?"

Dr. Grumpy: "No, thank you. I try to keep it small."

Mr. Ink: "Do you know any other doctors who might be looking to expand?"

Dr. Grumpy: "I can give them your name. What kind of practice do you have?"

Mr. Ink: "Well, technically it's not a medical practice, it's a tattoo parlor."

Monday, April 24, 2023

No comment


Monday, April 17, 2023


Following our first year of medical school, my roommate Enzyme and I returned to our home states for the summer. He (of course) found a girlfriend.

Enzyme saw it as just a summer fling, but failed to properly communicate this to her before returning to school (he claimed he had, and that she was crazy). Regardless, she had our apartment's phone number when he returned to school, though fortunately was over 1,000 miles away (back in those days, kids, you actually had to CALL people. Not e-mail or text. And you didn't each have your own phone, either).

So, in the time-honored tradition of single males sharing a cave, it somehow fell to the roommate (me) to answer the phone so he could hide. As many people of both sexes before him, he was hoping that if he ignored the calls, she'd stop calling. And we all know that never works.

I couldn't just ignore the phone, it might be for me.

So one day, as the phone started ringing, I said, "Enzyme, this isn't working. She's still calling." He agreed, and told me to try something else to get rid of her. Of course, he didn't offer any suggestions, either.

I answered the phone...

Medical Student Grumpy: “Um, hello?”

Summer Girl: “Hi! Is Enzyme around?” mind went completely blank. I couldn't think of a single thing to tell her that might make sense, like "Enzyme has broken up with you."

Medical Student Grumpy: "Um, he, um, I mean..."

I had a complete mental block. Not one idea jumped to mind.

Summer Girl: "Hello? Are you still there? Can I talk to Enzyme?”

Medical Student Grumpy: "Enzyme, um, he, uh... Enzyme is dead."

Enzyme (whispering): "Holy CRAP! Don't tell her I'm dead! She might call my mom's house!"

Summer Girl: "Excuse me, did you just say Enzyme is dead?"

Medical Student Grumpy: "No, I mean, he's, um, he's... gay."

Enzyme (whispering): "WHAT THE FUCK?!!!"

Long pause.

Summer Girl: "So. Is he dead or gay?"

Medical Student Grumpy: (dazed and stammering) "Um, he's either dead, or gay, I don't remember which..."

Enzyme took the phone out of my hand and hung it up.

Although it wasn't planned that way, it worked. He never heard from her again.

Monday, April 10, 2023

Modern technology

Dr. Grumpy: "Okay, so did the medication make a difference?"

Mrs. Timex: "Sort of, it..."

phone beeps, patient looks at watch

Mrs. Timex: "OH MY GOD! CALL 911!"

Dr. Grumpy: "What? What's wrong?"


Dr. Grumpy: "I don't think that's accurate..."

Mrs. Timex: "Of course it's accurate! I just got it last week! Call 911!"

Dr. Grumpy: "I can assure you that your heart hasn't stopped."

Mrs. Timex: "HOW DO YOU KNOW? You haven't even made a move to check my pulse! Or call 911!"

Dr. Grumpy: (picks up blood pressure cuff) "Let me..."

Mrs. Timex: "This is ridiculous! My heart has stopped, and you're not doing anything! I'm driving to ER!"

she ran out

Monday, April 3, 2023

Mary's Desk

Phone rings

Mary: "Dr. Grumpy's office, this is Mary."

Mrs. Brush: "Hi, this... Brush... appointment... won't be able... there."

Mary: "Hello? Mrs. Brush? I can barely hear you. There's a lot of noise."

Mrs. Brush: "I... appointment."

Mary: "You have an appointment in 10 minutes. Is something wrong? It sounds like you're in a big storm."

Mrs. Brush: "Won't be there... stuck."

Mary: "Hello? That wind and rain are pretty loud. I can't hear you."

Mrs. Brush "I..."



few minutes pass

phone rings


Mary: "Dr. Grumpy's office, this is Mary."

Mr. Brush: "Hi, this is Mr. Brush, my wife just texted and asked me to call you. She has an appointment soon and won't be able to be there, she'll call later to reschedule."

Mary: "Is she okay? It sounded like she was driving through a bad storm. Did she have to leave town?"

Mr. Brush: "She's fine. She stopped to get a car wash on the way there and it broke and now her car is jammed in it and they can't turn it off to get her out for another 15 minutes."

Monday, March 20, 2023

We seem to be made to suffer.

Dr. Grumpy: "I didn't get that report... I'll try to track it down. Did they tell you what the MRI showed?"

Mr. Daniels: "There was a herniated disk at C-something. Ummm... Maybe C3-PO? Does that sound right?"

Monday, March 13, 2023

Saturday night, 11:45 p.m.

"Hi, this is Sara Phone. Your nurse called the other day and asked me to call back or leave a message on how I'm doing, so I am, thank you."

Monday, February 27, 2023

Random pictures

Okay, time to hit the mailbag for stuff you guys have sent in.


First we have this festive jewelry for the holiday season. Because nothing says "Christmas" like a, uh, "Christmas tree."

Next we have this pasta. It's not only artisanal, but it's also shaped like New Jersey. Talk about a win-win!

While we're on the food topic, here's a car decal that asks "What would Jesus cook? And why wasn't it being served in The Last Supper?"

The there's this place, which makes you wonder if the guy cutting your hair works naked. Based on the barbers I've been to, I probably wouldn't go there.

And, lastly, is this article. The fact that it's filed under "meat industry" is kind of unnerving.


Monday, February 20, 2023


An attorney I've worked with called late Friday morning. A demented homeless patient had been found living in a culvert, completely disoriented. There was no known family. The small hospital he was at didn't have a neurologist available and they needed one to evaluate cognitive status for legal reasons. Would I be willing to do it?

My afternoon was actually fairly empty, as Fridays tend to be. So he emailed me the necessary paperwork and releases and I set off across town. After the usual COVID swab, then getting lost trying to find the correct room, I was there.

He was in his late 70's. The nurses had done an excellent job of cleaning him up (nurses deserve far more credit for this sort of thing than they ever get). Now he was in a hospital gown and adult diapers, still smelling slightly of urine, mumbling on and off, and occasionally asking me what school we were in.

I examined him, then sat down with his chart and some old medical records that had been scrounged together, looking to make sure the right things had been checked and ruled-out, the usual stuff that's second nature at this point in my career. I filled out a few papers, scanned them with my phone, and sent them off to the lawyer. I was done.

As I stood up to go I noticed a small pile of random objects on a chair in the corner and realized they were what had been found with him. His only worldly possessions, as the phrase goes.

Curious, I looked them over. A few T-shirts, a pair of socks, a metal water bottle and 2 plastic ones, some unopened bags of candy, 2-3 small stuffed animals. Somewhat incongruously there was a framed picture of a group of 5 men, all in 1970's-ish business suits and ties, standing behind a conference table, all smiling. The table had some scattered pens, note pads, coffee mugs, and a telephone. There was no name or date. The guy 2nd from left was the one lying in the bed behind me.

I have more things than he does, but neither of us gets to take them with at the end.

Out of all the items in the small pile, the picture obviously meant something to him. It was about 8" x 10", and certainly not easy to hold on to through all changes that a life of homelessness brings. But of the things that had connected him with who he'd once been, that was the one he wasn't going to get rid of. Even in the waning shadows of Alzheimer's disease he still thought it was important.

It led me to wonder how he'd reached the current situation. But the possibilities are large, varying from bad decisions to just the terrifying bad luck that can hit any of us. I had no way of knowing, nor was I going to guess. That's not what I was there for.

The things in that small pile were the only ones of value left to him. I suspect the photo was the most prized, simply because, unlike everything else on the chair, it couldn't be replaced, and he'd kept it for 40-50 years.

The detritus of a human life.

Monday, February 13, 2023

Wait, what?

I ordered a cheap pedometer last week after my old one broke. This was the product description.



Monday, February 6, 2023

Ancient History

Dr. Grumpy: "So what's going on?"

Dr. Aristotle: "I'm worried about my wife's thinking."

Lady Aristotle: "There is nothing wrong with me."

She sets down her coffee and glares at him.

Dr. Grumpy: "What concerns you?"

Dr. Aristotle: "She doesn't like reading Plato's Republic any more."


Dr. Grumpy: "I'm sorry, can you repeat that?"

Lady Aristotle: "You know what, Pericles? I NEVER liked it. I bet none of your college students ever liked it, either. And now that you're retired from BSU, I'm tired of hearing about it and pretending I even give a damn about Plato or his book! I did that for long enough!"

She picks up her coffee again.

Dr. Aristotle: "See, I don't think that's normal. You must have read it in college, didn't you Dr. Grumpy?"

Dr. Grumpy: "Um... actually I read the Cliff Notes."

Lady Aristotle: "SEE? I bet they all did, Pericles."

Dr. Aristotle: "But the Cliff Notes aren't the same. You must have gotten a bad grade just working off of that."

Dr. Grumpy: "I got a B+, but not liking Plato's Republic isn't a criteria for dementia. If it was most people would be diagnosed with it."

Lady Aristotle starts laughing.

Dr. Grumpy: "But to get back to the point of the visit, have there been other changes you've found concerning?"

Dr. Aristotle: "Well she... You know, I can't believe a college professor gave a B+ to a student who only read the Cliff Notes."

Dr. Grumpy: "Neither could I, but you did."

Lady Aristotle blew coffee all over my desk and started laughing so hard she got up and left. He went after her.

Monday, January 30, 2023


As my regular readers know, I moonlight as a consultant for various medical market research companies. It's a thankless job, but somebody has to pay for the tomatoes.

So last night I had a dinner meeting with neurologists and sundry other specialists to review data on an up-and-coming product.

These are never fun, because neurologists by nature are a remarkably pathological group of personalities. Back when I worked at Humungous Neurology, Inc. the partners would argue if it was dark or light outside. I think they invite the other specialties to these as a buffer.

But I digress.

So I was seated next to Dr. Harangue, who I'd had the good fortune of not having seen in at least 5 years. In his own mind he's a giant in his field. To those outside his mind he's an obnoxious boil. He may have once been a good doc, but as they say in Hollywood "you're only as good as your last picture". And his was made before Casablanca.

Neurologists will argue over anything. The meal started with a dispute across from me over who's bread plate was who's (right or left? GET YOUR BREAD OFF MY PLATE!) followed by a fight over which fork is used for salad. Somebody actually dragged the maitre d' to the room to settle the issue (no, it wasn't me. I sit still and keep my mouth shut as much as possible).

I'm not much into the swanky places they have these meetings at. I ordered a steak. I had no idea how complex this was.

Waiter: "How would you like that cooked?"

Dr. Grumpy: "Medium."

Waiter: 'That involves a light red center. Is that okay?"

Dr. Grumpy: "As opposed to..."

Waiter: "Well, rare is a pink center."

Dr. Grumpy: "Medium is fine."

Waiter: "I can do medium rare, too. That's a pink/red combo".

Dr. Grumpy: "What's wrong with medium?"

Waiter: "I'll just do medium-rare-plus for you. That's a pinkish-red."

Whatever. I'm trying to order a steak, not pick out draperies.

Then the talk began. Every time a doc involved in the study was mentioned, Dr. Harangue felt the need to interrupt and say "I know that doctor personally. We've been close friends for over 25 years." By the end of the meeting I was hoping they'd mention a study done by Hippocrates or Woodrow Wilson to see if he knew them, too.

After 15 minutes of talking, the speaker stepped out from behind the podium to show us all that his zipper was down, with his tucked-in shirt hanging out of it. A tactful internist promptly yelled "Christ! Your fly is open!" to drop a subtle hint.

Then they brought dinner. The cardiologist next to me had ordered prime rib (no comment), and the waiter accidentally set my steak in front of him, and his prime rib in front of me. I pointed this out, and he quickly switched plates.

The cardiologist had a freakin' FIT! "I don't want that now! It was in front of him! He could have H1N1, or worse! Doesn't the heath department check you places anymore?!!!" It was, literally, in front of me for less than 5 seconds.

So I quietly started my steak, while they went to get Dr. Germaphobe a new prime rib (actually, I think they just brought him back the old one).

The next speaker showed us a seemingly endless series of graphs. After 20 minutes of this, she asked if anyone had any comments. Dr. Phlame at the end of the table immediately raised his hand. "Yes, I want to know why you chose red and blue as the main colors for the graphs. I think mauve and maybe yellow would be much more aesthetically pleasing. Also, I think some ruffles or curvy lines around the slide border would be nice."

This was immediately followed by Dr. Harangue chipping in "Dr. Phlame, do you live under a freaking rock? This company has been using those colors for years. But back to the data, did any of you people think to compare these results to a 1954 study by Longdead, et al?" The speaker (and everyone else there) had absolutely no clue what he was talking about, and Dr. Harangue chewed us out, as if it had just been published last week. When I looked it up, the study investigated a drug (that's no longer in use) for an unrelated condition.

Throughout this excitement the waiters kept refilling our glasses (ENDLESS DIET COKE HEAVEN!), so dysfunctional personalities were not improving with repeated doses of Burgundy and other wines.

In one discussion, to argue a point about a competing drug, an internist actually reached into his pocket and pulled out a product insert. I swear! He had it with him, all scrunched up. After reading from it like it was a bible he sat down and began arguing with a pulmonary doc about when daylight savings time starts.

We made it through another 15 minutes of polite discussion before Dr. Germaphobe cardiologist began tapping my shoulder. "Hey, Ibee!"

I turned around "What's up?"

"Are you gonna finish your roll?"

Stunned, I looked at the bread roll I'd absently left on my plate. It was buttered, and I'd taken a few bites out of it. "Uh, no, I'm full".

"Thanks!" And he grabbed it. So the guy who'd refused to eat an untouched steak was now chomping on my partially eaten dinner roll. Amazing what a bottomless glass of white wine will do.

As we sat through another set of slides, Dr. Harangue's cell phone rang. He answered it, speaking loudly enough to be heard in the next county (i.e., his usual volume). "What? Yeah. No, I've got another half hour of this shit. The drug company people won't shut up."

The dinner ended 20 minutes later. To make sure all points were covered, the moderator specifically asked "Dr. Harangue, are there any other comments?"

No answer. It was the only time he'd been quiet all night. He was in a burgundy stupor, slumped face down next to his creme brulee. He was still there when I collected my paycheck and left.

Monday, January 23, 2023

Seen in a chart

I have no idea what this was supposed to say.



Monday, January 16, 2023

Family Fun

Ms. Crouton: "Hello?"

Annie: "Hi, this is Annie, with Dr. Grumpy's office. I'm still working on getting your medication, Shnoodleblob, authorized, but in the meantime we do have samples you can pick up so you can get through the week."

Ms. Crouton: "You do? Oh, THANK YOU! That really helps. What time are you open to?"

Annie: "We'll be here until 4:30 today and..."

Ms. Crouton: "No... I don't get off work until 5:00 today, and I actually have to get off the phone now because my meeting is starting... can you call my mom for me? She knows I take this, and she's near your office anyway. She'll pick it up and I'll get it from her later."

Annie: "I..."

Ms. Crouton: "My meeting is starting! Please call her! 867-5309! Thank you!"



Annie sighs.


Ms. Crouton's Mom: "Hello?"

Annie: "Hi, this is Annie, calling from Dr. Grumpy's office. Your daughter, Ms. Crouton, can't get by to pick up her medication, and asked me to call you since she says you're near our office."

Ms. Crouton's Mom: "Can you please call my daughter back and tell her to go fuck herself? Thank you."



Annie sighs.

Monday, January 9, 2023

Never mind

Dr. Grumpy: "Any major illnesses run in your family?"

Ms. Dna: "Cancer, high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes... wait, do you mean in my family?"

Dr. Grumpy: "Uh, yeah."

Ms. Dna: "Oh, never mind then. They're all pretty healthy."

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