Is there a lesser charge than illegal pedestrian?

The papers sure made quite a pile

To sign them it took me a while

     From the first to the last,

     My criminal past

I had to put into the file

Synopsis:  I’m a family practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa.  On sabbatical to avoid burnout, while my non-compete clause ticks away I’m having adventures, visiting family and friends, and working in out-of-the-way places.  I just got back from a six-week assignment in Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost point in the country.

It snowed today in Sioux City, but it felt like spring.  Because of my recent time in the Arctic, the word “cold” doesn’t seem to apply at temperatures near the melting point of water.  I went out without long underwear under my jeans, without my parka, and listened to the birds singing.

Houses in Sioux City don’t rest on stilts, trees grow here, and the roads are paved.  Here the soil particles cling together to form mud that sticks to shoes, and plants grow in riotous abundance when the ground thaws.  We have no permafrost.

I stopped at St. Luke’s Hospital, which has a CT scanner, MRI, full service surgery, ICU and CCU.  I made more arrangements to restart and learned I can’t get a fob and a new ID till I get recredentialed after my leave of absence.

I talked to a couple of physicians in the doctors’ lounge and introduced myself to one of the new cardiologists.  Given a chance, I spouted off about my adventures in Barrow, my upcoming plans in another country, and my intention to return to work at the Community Health Center in June.

I drove down there and for an hour I signed papers.

I’ve gotten used to credentialing over the last year.  The first time it cost me more than a week of free time, the last time I got it done in less than a morning.  Today it took me less than an hour; most of what I had to fill out had been completed for me by staffers reading my CV and other papers; all that was lacking was my signature.

I had to establish my bona fides with every major insurer that my new business works with.

Several of the forms asked if I’d ever been convicted of a crime, and, once again, some organizations added ‘other than minor traffic offenses,’ and some didn’t.

Forty years ago this month I was arrested in Geary County, Kansas.  I was charged with being an illegal pedestrian, tried, convicted and sentenced to ten days in the county jail.  I served four.  I regard illegal pedestrian as the most minor of criminal offenses, ranking below a parking ticket and the fact that I spent time behind bars for it shows the absurdity of the application of some of our laws.  I think my real crime involved my pony tail. 

All institutions wanted to know about malpractice history.  I was named once in a suit.  The same action named the pathologist who did the autopsy; he was dropped two weeks later, I was dropped two weeks before trial.

The pile of papers I signed came to two inches thick, and doesn’t include my contract. 

Right afterwards I met with the farmer who rents my three-quarters of a quarter section.  The simple meeting involved a check and a chat.

Farming isn’t medical care, the Arctic isn’t the Midwest, and spring isn’t winter.

Contrast is the essence of meaning.


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