Forgetting phones, Pad Thai, and making overseas plans


Today we went out to eat Thai

At a place where they know how to fry

     But out in the cold

     Where the frost has its hold

We quickly were kissing good-bye

Bethany and I went to a Thai restaurant for lunch today.

During my lens’s accommodation to indoor light, I thought I might have seen a colleague, but he left before I got a chance to say hi.  While Bethany and I looked at the menu, the owner of the restaurant walked out of the door, and came back in with a white coat in his hand.

I named the doctor, asking if the coat belonged to that person.

Yes, it did, he said, and he would call the doctor’s office. 

Such things happen.  Years ago, one particularly busy weekend on call I arrived at a Japanese restaurant for lunch.   Bolting the food between phone calls, I missed the subtlety and complexity of flavors.  I left and started back to a hospital ER.

I hadn’t gotten six blocks when my beeper sounded.  I pulled to the curb and called the number of the Japanese restaurant.  I had forgotten my credit card.

I navigated the one-ways, double-parked in front of the restaurant, ran in, got my card, and ran out.

I can’t think of a restaurant in town that wouldn’t do the same thing; I love living in a small town.

Bethany and I enjoyed very good Pad Thai and pumpkin curry.  While blasts of arctic-temperature air arrived every time the door opened, I told her about progress I’d made trying to get work for ten or twelve weeks outside the country.  I’m dealing with a couple of recruiters.

I get an average of five calls a day, looking for doctors to fill locum tenens positions.  I listen politely, tell them I have no availability, and invite them to send me an email, so that if things don’t work out and I have to put my lines back in the water I know where to locate them.  I have even put a partition in my saved email called “locum tenens.”

More than eighty agencies in this country try to place doctors into temporary assignments, but both doctors and potential employers run into what the economists call “opportunity friction.”  Since I started into this year of going walkabout, I have said yes to seventeen different jobs, and all but four fell through.  I enjoyed every place I went, and I can’t stop saying great things about each one.  But the level of professionalism on the part of the recruiters and agencies varies.  If my foreign plans don’t materialize, I will probably throw myself on the mercy of the three recruiters whom I trust.

We took our time with our meal.  We stopped, full, before we finished the food, and boxed the leftovers.

Outside, in the bizarre contrast of sub-zero air temperatures with bright sun on the south side of a building, we briefly talked about plans for the rest of the day.  We’d just kissed good-bye when the owner hurried out the door to give Bethany her telephone.  She’d forgotten it on the table.

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