On Friday during a cordial discussion with my contemporaries, I made an off-hand comment about seeing patients in the hospital, regarding me coming to the realization that the majority of the patients really are in the hospital for things that they have done to themselves. They can show you all the statistics in the world about preventable deaths, it doesn’t strike you until you ask a patient how long they had been addicted to a certain drug. One of my colleagues (I’ll name her Of-Baltimore, OB) proceeded to lecture me about being aware of people that are different than I am. I rarely procure this type of reaction, and it was refreshing. The method by which she tried to show me my so-called prejudices grated me in such a way I became something that I rarely am, defensive.
I found myself trying to defend my comments against OB, whom I severely doubted had a better grasp of the world’s differences and the differences between human beings, although I did concede that she did understand Baltimore’s issues better than I had. She grew up here, mere blocks away from the hospital, and I had grown up in my cushy D.C. suburb, speculating on which city was more terrible, Baltimore or Washington. In general I would always play devil’s advocate about Washington, D.C. and espouse its wonderful characteristics, but Baltimore I would unfairly mentally incarcerate and incinerate.
All things considered, OB probably lectures several people a week about the good characteristics and bad characteristics of Baltimore, which to its credit, has more of the former than the latter. She recommended that I read The Corner, which of course I feel obligated now to read since it was the second time in a week that it was lorded above me and to me as Baltimore’s bible.
OB’s Baltimore lecture to me really didn’t do anything to educate me about Baltimore, but I think it did do two great things. She broke through any prejudice I may have had about a person in medical school who claimed Baltimore as their hometown. From undergrad I had learned to assume that they were from Towson, or Lutherville, or anywhere else in Baltimore county. I qualify this as a person from medical school, because all of you may be thinking due to Baltimore’s demographics, she’s probably African-American, like me, but no. She’s Irish-American, which probably led to my initial grating against her light haranguing. Anyway, she showed me that she was much more sensitive to subjects like this, which is a relief. She at least temporarily stopped my encroaching jadishness against patients, the United States, and the world. So, thank you OB.