When I was dentist we were always hearing that old saw about having to be cruel to be kind. Mostly it came from people who were doing it for no other reason than to be cruel and get paid. You can be pretty darn cruel with an old saw…
It was the worst part of the task…because, unfortunately, anaesthetics do not always work as we would have them. And surgical operations do not necessarily go well. There was a little cruelty evey week and some weeks it was every day.
I tended to grit my teeth and get on with it…praying that the patient would not grit theirs while I had fingers in there. I was only ever bit once and it was deliberate. I was not offended by the smartaleck, nor did I take any revenge – I just added it onto the bill.
Thankfully, I never had to give someone a fatal diagnosis – nothing further than having teeth out. And by the time they came to see me they generally knew that was on the cards. The full clearances tapered off somewhat in the last decade of practice as fluoridated water and increased public awareness meant that people took more care of themselves.
Now that I am safely out of the dental profession – and out of the sales profession as well – I can go back to the cruelty/kindness duopoly and just choose which one I fancy day by day. Sometimes you help people back onto their bike after you push them over. Unless it’s a really nice bike, and then you just ride away on it.