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Good Morning Doctor! - Chapter 12

My First German Patient

It so happened that I was the only German-speaking physician in Franklin County; therefore I mentioned that fact in the professional card which I inserted in the local paper after I opened my office. A day or so after the announcement appeared, my fist German patient came in.

He greeted me cordially and told me that he needed a prescription for a tonic. He said he wanted something to give him an appetite and to relieve a general feeling of debility. From his appearance there was nothing to indicate that he was seriously ill; so I complied with his request and gave him a prescription for a pint of Elixir Calasaya Iron and Quinine. With it went directions that he was to take two teaspoonfuls in a quarter glass of water after each meal.

Smilingly he took the prescription, went downstairs, and had it filled.

In a few hours he stormed into my office, raging mad. "Vat the ____ you trying to do! Poison me!" he roared, rounding out the sentence with some picturesque German phraseology.

"Poison you?"

Ya, dat rotten stuff you gafe me liked to kill me. Und der boys, dey all got stomach aches! Vat de hell!"

Came the light: he hadn't wanted tonic! What he had been after was whiskey, and that was why he had talked to me so knowingly when he first came in; that was what he had meant when he had winked as he told me his symptoms. Consequently he thought whiskey was what I gave him! And he had invited the boys around to the livery stable for a nip!

"Didn't you read the directions on the bottle?" I countered.

"Directions! You a goot Cherman and don't know enough to gif me viskey ven I vant it! You tick-headed _____!" He was almost running out of words. "If you don't gif me my money back, I'll take id oud uff your hide!"

"You asked for a prescription and got it. That's all there is to it. Now get out of here and get out quick," I said, deciding that, after all, my hide was mine and it was up to me to protect it.

He started to go on with his abuse, so I rushed him. I took him by the coat collar and the seat of his pants and unceremoniously helped him down the stairs and out into the street.

My first German patient had come and gone. After the flush of excitement had died away I wondered if I would ever be able to redeem myself in the community. But I was worrying unnecessarily, for I soon found out that Hampton was very much a prohibition town, had never had a saloon, and allowed the sale of alcoholics only by druggists on a physician's prescription.

Where I came from there were open saloons, and so for more reasons than one I had not tumbled to the meaning of the wink of my first German patient!

  Version: World Wide Web Edition Copyright 1995 by Richard Rathe
  Created: October 1, 1995   Modified: July 5, 1999

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