30 January 2005

What's up, Doc?

I got this e-mail from my friend Larry in L.A. a few minutes ago.

Things Are Not Always As Easy As They Seem

A mechanic was removing a cylinder head from the motor of a Harley motorcycle when he spotted a well-known heart surgeon in his shop.

The surgeon was there waiting for the service manager to come take a look at his bike when the mechanic shouted across the garage, "Hey Doc, can I ask you a question?"

The surgeon, a bit surprised, walked over to where the mechanic was working on the motorcycle.

The mechanic straightened up, wiped his hands on a rag and asked, "So Doc, look at this engine. I open its heart, take the valves out, repair any damage, and then put them back in, and when I finish, it works just like new. So how come I get such a small salary and you get the really big bucks, when you and I are doing basically the same work?"

The surgeon paused, smiled and leaned over, and whispered to the mechanic..."Try doing it with the engine running."

Now, that's pretty funny.

Truth of the matter is, mechanics would go to jail for doing some of the shit doctors get away with as a matter of course. In matters of diagnosis, estimates, and billing, let alone performance, mechanics are bound by so many laws it's a wonder sometimes that we can fix anything and make a little money on it.

Doctors work on one basic model. Mechanics may work on hundreds and are expected to be experts on all of them.

Doctors have a powerful lobby and malpractice insurance to pay for their fuck-ups. Mechanics have neither.

I've heard of artificial hip salesmen coming to the operation and making sure the doctor installs it correctly. I can honestly say I've never had the parts guy do this when I'm putting some new high-zoot accessory that I've never seen before into someone's sled. Don't human replacement parts come with installation instructions?

Mechanics are bound to their diagnosis the minute the customer signs to authorize the repair. If we mis-diagnose something, we eat it. Doctors just keep working and the meter just keeps running. To be fair, we can take something as far apart as we have to to find out what's wrong with it, and leave it in boxes until the part comes in. I'm not sure doctors can do this.

Hospitals charge $6 for an aspirin. I'd love to be able to charge $6 for a shot of WD-40!

If we make a mistake, we are bound to fix it, and good mechanics will do this so the customer never knows about it. If a doctor makes a serious mistake, he can simply bury it. He still gets paid, too.

To be perfectly candid, we can probably fix a lot more shit with a ball peen hammer than a doctor can, but we still have to know how and where to hit it.

Mechanics must know what they are doing better than doctors. We apply our skill. Doctors are always practicing their trade.

If my doctor reads this, I hope I don't get sick.

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