Short Stories for Teachers

Cell Phones and the Dentist
By:Cynthia Pinsonnault

Don't you just hate people who talk on their cell phones while they drive? Blindly babbling away, not paying attention to the road, endangering everyone nearby … so inconsiderate.

Anyway, today while I was chatting on the phone and driving to the dentist, I got a tiny bit distracted and turned onto the wrong road … twice. But I cleverly figured out a shortcut back to where I belonged and pulled into the parking lot right on time. Unfortunately, it was the parking lot at my doctor's office, not my dentist's.

Now, I've always been a little reluctant to go to the dentist. When I was young, they used to lie to me to get me there. Of course once I knew what was happening I would throw a crying fit — in the car on the way to the dentist, in the elevator on the way up to the office, in the waiting room, in the dentist's chair throughout the entire visit, in the office while my mother paid, in the elevator on the way down, in the car on the way home, and once again when my father came home that night just to be sure everyone knew how I felt about it.

My mother was afraid of the dentist. And she shared that fear and its effects with her children. She picked our dentist based solely on the fact that he would give her lots of Novocain. Lots of Novocain. Much Novocain. Beyond that, she never really bothered about the skills-as-a-dentist thing.

My own theory is that dentistry was invented by Beelzebub, based largely on the fact that our dentist looked exactly the way I imagined a Devil's minion would look. And, oh, by the way, when we were finally done and wanted nothing more than to run as fast and as far as possible, he would smile at us kids, with his coke-bottle-thick glasses making him look popeyed, and hand us each a lollipop. Maybe not the best dentist, but surely a clever businessman lining up return customers.

Today, even after better dentists have shown me that there may possibly be some redeeming value in dental care, I still get a bit unsettled before an appointment. Therefore, I have two things to say about the cell phone thing:

1) It might have been the fact of going to the dentist that distracted me and not the cell phone. I think, maybe, my subconscious was trying to get me to go to the wrong place and miss my appointment completely. Self-protection is a very powerful instinct in times of peril. That could explain it.

2) If it was the cell phone use, I think I deserve an exemption from condemnation because, after all, I was on my way to the dentist. Maybe I wouldn't have been able to talk again when I came out. One little slip of the drill and, oops. Or I could have choked on one of the forty appliances they had crammed into my mouth just before asking me how I was doing.

Either way, I feel completely justified in continuing to judge others if they use a cell phone while driving. Unless, of course, I learn that they were on their way to the dentist.

Cynthia Pinsonnault
www.pinscreative.com






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