When I was in medical school, a friend of mine gave me the use of a pager. He had some kind of business arrangement that provided him with pager service, and he was somehow able to hook me up with one.
I was, of course, delighted to have one. Along with wearing scrubs and/or a white coat, it completed the look I was aspiring to at the time. The incontestable fact that nobody on the face of the earth actually needed to contact me with pager-level urgency was wholly irrelevant. Frankly, the thing could have been non-functional and it wouldn’t have made much difference. It was there for appearances, the very definition of frippery. Eventually something went south with the business arrangement and the pager service was cut off, but somehow my medical education survived this setback and no patients were harmed because the hospital could not contact me immediately.
And then, residency. I was the proud new carrier of an entirely non-optional pager. (By that time the appeal of wearing a white coat had already faded, and I spent enough time in scrubs over those three years to rip the bloom right off that rose, too.) When I was on call in the hospital, it went off all the time. When I was the back-up call resident, I had to wear it at home, too. I developed a Pavlovian aversion to all high-pitched beeps and chirps. I had vivid fantasies of balancing it on a tee and smashing it to smithereens at a driving range, or of dropping it down an elevator shaft.
When I’m on call for our practice now, I actually wear two pagers. This only happens every 5 weeks, so it’s not so bad, and call isn’t nearly so onerous as it has been for me in other jobs. I’ve stopped fantasizing about physically destroying the stupid things. That said, it’s still a nice little ritual when I can take them off my belt for another several weeks.
So, here’s this week’s question — what did you enjoy in your youthful or immature years that you have since come to loathe? Bonus points for answers that pertain to status symbols or professional accoutrements that have become obligatory and burdensome. Super bonus points if it’s something you’re sheepish to admit you once desired or prized, so I’m not the only one voluntarily embarrassing himself up in here.