Please note: this story was provided by the author and published as is.
Most people don’t realize how much power a Doctor really has. You show up at our oﬃce. Fill out forms with your most personal information: your address, your Social Security Number, sexual history. You even trust us with your very blood!
And yet throughout my career I’ve always felt powerless.
I’m came to New York City in the summer of 2001, after finishing med school in Israel and receiving a job at my uncle’s Urology practice in Brighton Beach. I’d been told he was the King of Brighton Beach Urology and that sounded very impressive. But when I arrived in Brighton Beach I thought: no, this cannot be America. This place is more backward than Moscow and at least 30 years behind Tel Aviv.
My Uncle’s oﬃce served a community best describe as Angry Babushka Ladies and Geriatric-Mobster-Men. The staﬀ, even worst. I was afraid of all of them. I thought: “I’ll only help him a short time, then start a practice of my own, someplace nice.
Someplace young people hang out. Someplace like-like…Carroll Gardens.” On rare days oﬀ I’d take the train 15 stops to Carroll Gardens to watch the young, carefree, families stroll the tree-lined streets. And back at the oﬃce, while patients yelled at me in Russian, I wouldn’t mind, I’d go right on telling them to take their pants down and cough, because in my mind I was 15 subway stops away.
Then, less than a year after I arrived, my uncle was sued for a botched operation. He could no longer practice medicine…so he left his oﬃce to me.
I’d only just proposed to a fresh-oﬀ-the-boat Russian hairdresser, the niece of a patient. (She was beautiful but she had absurdly expensive tastes.) I knew the only way to keep up with her was to put oﬀ my dream and stay in Brighton Beach a few more years. I even tricked my myself. Now that I’m Head Doctor”, I thought, ”it’ll be worth it!”
Seventeen years later and now I’m the Urology King of Brighton Beach. And though the crumby oﬃce and miserable clients never changed, I had. I no longer dreamt of my clean modern oﬃce in Carroll Gardens, instead, I’d let the already rotting decor crumble and flake oﬀ like the dead skin of a genital psoriasis patient. In the waiting room all my magazines were over 10 years old and the only VCR was jammed with a tape of My Girl . I knew better than anyone how much it stunk. But where was the money for improvements? The little profit one makes on Medicare Patients went right to my succubus ex-wife.
Year after year I’d sit in my oﬃce and hear my patients yelling at my receptionists. I ‘d hear my receptionists yelling back. I grew to hate them all. These people needed me more than I needed them. I’d like to hear them try to explain in Russian their burning sensation to some yuppie Manhattan dick doc! No chance. So they kept coming and I kept coming.
Until one day, as I explained to a screaming 87-year-old lady in threadbare Juicy Couture that she’s going to die of bladder cancer in the next few weeks, I suddenly noticed that the chaotic waiting room had gone quiet…
Then I heard a voice like that of an angel:
“Is this Brighton Beach Urology?” Spoken in a perfect American English.
I peaked through the crack of my oﬃce door and saw a young man dressed casually– a hoodie that looked new and clean–one from a real store like Banana Republic or J. Crew. He was fit. Not handsome, but not deformed. I watch him sit and fill out his new patient forms. Everyone in the waiting room stared…until inevitably the screaming began anew.
But I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I made my receptionist funnel all other patients to my subordinates as I sat in my oﬃce-refuge, dreaming. My oﬃce was the one place I could hide. The one place that truly felt like it was mine. I’d decorated it with my favorite trinkets, Lions statues for status and strength, Russian Nesting Dolls painted to look like my favorite American Presidents to remind me of my sense of duty, and best of all, the delicate figurine of a sad clown. This piece sat on my desk and spoke to my very soul. I named him Dr. Weepy. And in my safe oﬃce, I sat, thinking: what could’ve possibly brought this young man here?
When he’s prelim exams were complete and a nurse brought me his file. Kidney stones. Figures. According to his sonograms it was nothing alarming but if they were going to be taken out, I had to be the one to do it! How nice it would be to speak English with a patient and to operate on a taught, firm, body that wouldn’t disintegrate at my touch. I’d give him all the bells-and-whistles, surely his insurance could handle it and, yes, I dreamt of a big payday–sue me! More importantly, I once again dreamt of Carroll Gardens. I dreamt he’d recommend all his hipster friends and I would be saved!
I needed a cigarette to calm myself before we met, so I told the nurse to have him wait in my oﬃce.
Outside, I reminded myself: I am the Urology King of Brighton Beach. I could be the Urology King of Carroll Gardens.
When finally I introduced myself I felt 18 years younger, like I’d just arrived from med school. I was charming and sharp-as-a-tack. I made many jokes at the expense of my staﬀ and patients to make it clear, I was not like them.
Oh, and get this…he’s an actor!
Well, a bartender. But he’s been on Law & Order! He gave me his business card and invited me for a drink at his bar! I gave him my coveted personal pager number. He said he was engaged, so I gave him great advice, I told him (in my most serious doctor voice) I said. “Do you know the worst food you can eat for your sex life?” He seem genuinely interested, I said “WEDDING CAKE!”
I think he liked that. But I assured him that it’s true and begged him to reconsider the wedding. Then I took a good long time examining him myself before telling him how serious his condition was. I told him I’d need to get him on my chopping block A.S.A.P. I said I’d bump other patients to squeeze him in–but in the meantime he must drink more water. He thanked me and shook my hand. Something clicked in our eyes, I don’t exactly know what, but I felt I could trust him.
That’s when I opened up about my dream…
I described to him a modern little oﬃce in Carroll Gardens, away from this place! And he supported me. Said it was a great idea. We had a real connection.
I sent him oﬀ so the nurse could draw blood and schedule his operation.
That night, I sketched designs for my new oﬃce, for my new logo. I looked online at real estate in Carroll Gardens.
My ex-wife called demanding money and I told her to go fuck herself! For the first time in my career, I felt powerful!
At work in the morning I asked when the young man’s operation was scheduled for. “The American boy? He cancelled.” No. No, no, no. “He left a message and asked us to send his test results to a… ‘Dr. Yank’ in….uh…Carroll Gardens.”
So I called him!
“Who is this?” He asked, he’d obviously been asleep. When I told him, he hung up.
I tried back several times with no luck.
When the receptionist from Dr. Yank’s oﬃce in Carroll Gardens called to ask for his tests, something snapped in me. I told her that if she stole my client I would find Dr. Yank and make sure he never urinated through a urethra again!
Then I put the young man’s address in my GPS and left.
His building was just like I expected on a beautiful tree-lined street. I waited and waited.
When he finally left his apartment at 2:30 PM I called his phone again and watched him ignore my call. I nearly confronted him, but stopped myself.
Back at the oﬃce, I had emails waiting. New reviews on my Yelp page. And ZocDoc. And Google Reviews.
“DO NOT GO TO THIS DOCTOR! HE IS A CHAUVINIST PIG WHO STILL USES A PAGER AND WON’T LET YOU HAVE YOUR TEST RESULTS, WHICH, FYI, IS TOTALLY ILLEGAL. ALSO THE OFFICE IS DISGUSTING (SEE PICTURES BELOW).”
He’d posted cellphone pictures of peeling paint and the broken TV/VCR. Even a picture of Dr. Weepy, looking sadder than ever. He went on:
THIS QUACK IS DELUSIONAL AND DREAMS OF HAVING A REAL OFFICE IN CARROLL GARDENS. L.O.L. THAT WILL NEVER EVER HAPPEN!
I felt alone. Helpless. Betrayed.
But I reminded myself: I’m the mother-fucking Urology King of Brighton Beach! And he…he is just some third rate actor/bartender who can’t be bothered to drink enough water!
I locked myself in the oﬃce with his file. I proceeded to post his social security and home address to every nefarious message board I could find.
It made me feel powerful again. But that wasn’t enough.
So, next, I sent his sexual history and the dates of all his STDs to his emergency contact.
My feeling of invisibility was growing but I needed to do more. So I did…
The next morning I watched as the police dragged him from his apartment.
I clipped every news article about the 87-year-old woman murdered by an aspiring actor who had recently been featured on Law & Order.
It was tabloid gold.
The evidence against him was overwhelming. They’d found his business card and 2.5 milliliters of his blood at the crime scene. Still he insisted he’d been framed.
What a creep he was. All the articles said so.
According to an autopsy, the Russian woman that dumb actor killed would have died soon anyway. Bladder cancer.