Progressive Writers Bloc

Patient Abuse

Uncle Bill Warner

When was the last time you went onto a doctor's or hospital's waiting room without having to put up with a TV set being on?

Now, I can walk out or restaurants which make me listen to annoying stuff on the idiot box, and I do. But in doctors waiting rooms, where people are often ill, and the last thing they need is unwanted noise. I was in the Sierra View lab on Pearson street last week, and they have made it impossible for you to ignore TV by installing a half-dozen sets! This, to me, is patient abuse. You can't just walk out on required medical exams like you can a restaurant.

I am a reader, and the times I forget to take my shooters' ear muffs with me are sheer misery. Now, don't get me wrong, there is some good stuff on TV, but whoever controls what is on in waiting rooms has yet to hear about it. The patients are completely out of control of the offending medium! TV with the sound off is fine, you can take it or leave it, but this is seldom the case.

There are exceptions, of course. A TV in a motorcycle shop with a Moto GP race on is fine. I might even stick around and buy something I don't need just to see who wins. This is not the case with doctors' waiting rooms, hospitals, and labs. I always figure when they take my blood pressure it will be on the high side after trying to read for a half hour or more while being force-fed noise from the television(s). Most sick people don't want to be there.

I was told by my cardiologist that people need something to watch (and by extension listen to) when they have long waits. Perhaps putting Sesame Street re-runs on to help them become print-literate might be a good idea. The Friends of the Library might even donate a few good books for waiting rooms. In my cardiologist's office last week, every single one of the seven or 8 people waiting was ignoring the TV as well as they could, but the sound level was making it hard for them to read.

I recall someone discussing the concept of freedom, saying,"Your right to swing your arm freely ends where my nose begins." I have often thought of that in a world where people seldom understand that freedom involves responsibilities towards others. Maybe we should try to live by that. The concept of doing unto others? I am always tempted to take a boom box into a waiting room and turn it on a couple of DB's above the TV and play some decent Bach, Chopin, or Bob Marley. Of course when the ofice person came out to complain, I would ask her to explain the difference between the institutional right to abuse the ears of others, but not mine. Duh....

You can buy a little device off the Internet for $29.95 that can turn off any TV at a distance. It reads through all the controlling codes for almost any TV and shuts it off when you hold a button down. My local MacDonalds had three TVs all tuned to Fox news. I complained, and the manager told me that someone had donated them with the stipulation that they would impose Fox propaganda on the customers for a period six months. I no longer patronize them, but I'll tell you that when I shut down the TVs, nobody rushes to complain!

I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank every doctor, restaurant owner, and auto parts store that does NOT force television sound into my ears. Patronize these people!

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