Greetings, Gentle Reader.  If you have been following the adventures of Dr. Cranky for a while, you might have noticed an odd dissonance in his discourse.  It is something you can’t quite put your finger on.  Like a nascent sneeze which never matures, it lurks at the periphery of your consciousness.  What could it be, you might ask?  Well, as Phaedrus of Macedonia once put it, “things are not always what they seem.”

In fact, your tireless author was talking about this just the other day with his progeny, the Cranky Daughter.  “It’s strange how you tell us you have the best job in the world,” she remarked, “but in your next breath will list 5 different things you don’t like about it.”  Strange, indeed.  Once again, please allow your host to explain.

It is true that Dr. Cranky loves what he does.  For him, Emergency Medicine is the best job in the world.  Your humble servant cares about his patients; every single one of them.  It doesn’t matter which level of the social strata they inhabit, whether they are the CEO of a major corporation or an unfortunate wretch who has not had the resources to bathe in the past three weeks.  And, it is through his medical practice that your stout yeoman is able to contribute to something far greater than himself.  In what other job could he have the privilege of saving someone’s life on a regular basis?  In what better way could he contribute to the grand scheme of things?  When you look at it this way, it is impossible for your favorite scrivener to envision himself doing anything else.  “What is it then,” you might ask, “that makes Dr.Cranky so cranky?”

It is with this simple question that we come to the weevil.  When he was but a Cranky Lad, your dutiful scribe spent his summers working on a farm owned by the Cranky Grandfather (who was exceedingly cranky, to be sure).  It was here, whilst picking cotton, that he first met up with these odd-appearing creatures.   At first glance, weevils do not appear to be all that impressive.  They are small insects, do not sting, and seem to be nothing more than a slight inconvenience.  And yet, in the aggregate these diminutive irritants are capable of untold destruction.  It is no exaggeration to say that Dr. Cranky has seen acres upon acres of farmland devastated and laid to waste by these pests.

“This is all well and good,” you might interject.  “But please do not tease us this way.  What do these creatures have to do with your tendency to be such a crotchety curmudgeon?  Have these pests infested the hospital where you work?  Or even worse, have they come to permeate the great house of Medicine itself?”  Metaphorically speaking, the answer is an unfortunate yes.  Each day Dr. Cranky must navigate a virtual minefield of pesky irritants such as lazy technicians, arrogant colleagues, obstinate administrators and half-baked regulations.  Like weevils, each one by itself does not seem very harmful.  When considered together, however, they conglomerate to form a perfect storm of obstructive synergy.  The ultimate effect is like trying to swim through hardened concrete.

Nevertheless, your ardent host endeavors to persevere and will continue to fight the good fight.  The intangible reward he receives by assisting the sick and injured somehow always manages to overcome his frustrations.  He does not like to deal with weevils, but will continue to tolerate them.  As Mel Herbert of the LA County/USC Emergency Medicine Residency Program likes to say, what emergency physicians do matters!

About Dr. Cranky

Dr. Cranky is a residency-trained, board-certified emergency physician who has been fighting in the trenches of American medicine for far too long. Each day he tries to stay one step ahead of burnout. Despite his best efforts, burnout seems to be closing in fast.
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