Dear John: Is My Dentist Drinking on the Job?
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Let me start by saying that I am afraid of going to the dentist. But I started seeing one close to a year ago because I had to. I liked him because he was patient with me – I don’t think I make a very good patient because of my fears. But at my most recent visit, I am sure he smelled like he had been drinking. It was right after lunch and maybe he had a drink with lunch or whatever, I don’t care. I definitely don’t want to see a dentist who has been drinking. So I called and said I would be seeing a new dentist and would they send my records to him and the woman on the phone asked why was I leaving, was there anything they could do to make me more comfortable, etc. I didn’t know what to say, so I hung up. The woman I spoke to was always very nice to me when I was in the office, so my question is should I say why I’m leaving? Maybe she already knows he does this and it will take losing patients for them to take it seriously. I don’t know, and that’s what I would like to know.
Not Exactly Reassured
Dear Not Exactly Reassured,
You have every right to stop seeing any medical professional who makes you uncomfortable in any way, and you have no obligation to offer an explanation if you don’t want to. If your mind is made up, simply respond to attempts to keep your business by saying, “I’ve made my decision and I really just want to talk to you about having my records forwarded.” Having said that, however, I do think you should give this a little more thought and not act too hastily now that you’ve overcome your fear and found a dentist you liked until recently.
First, you’re absolutely right: any medical professional who consumes alcohol prior to seeing a patient has displayed an egregious lack of judgment. It would be completely reasonable to stop seeing such a professional if that were the case. But are you absolutely certain this IS the case? Medical offices have any number of things that could have an “alcohol-y” smell. Or maybe your dentist used a mouthwash containing alcohol prior to seeing you. I would look into this a bit more deeply before severing your relationship. Search for reviews of this dental practice online to see if others have the same complaint. Do you know anyone else who goes there? Ask what their experiences have been like.
As I said, if what you suspect is true, that’s a good reason to go elsewhere. If not, though, it would be a shame for you to stop seeing a dentist who has you smiling.
Today I got a Facebook request from my 11-year-old son's 11-year-old friend and I'm not sure what to make of this. On the one hand, I think the concept of a "friend" on Facebook is very different from the reality of what a friend is, so I'm inclined to accept. On the other hand I'm a little weirded out by it and think no 40-something-year-old woman has any business being "friends" with an 11-year-old boy who isn't related to her. I've made an effort to get to know my son’s peers through volunteering at school and coaching sports, but I don't want to be "that mom" who is buddies with all of the kids. Honestly, I want them to respect (and maybe even fear) me and I’m wondering if you think friending on Facebook is crossing that line or is a harmless way of connecting.
Not That Mom
Dear Not That Mom,
It sounds like you’re disinclined to accept this friend request, and that’s totally fine. (If you do ignore it, though, it would be nice to let this kid know it’s nothing personal, just your policy.) But if you’re truly on the fence about it, I don’t think this invitation is either of the things you speculate it may be at the end of your letter. I think to an 11-year-old who’s new to Facebook (and please tell me that at that age, he’s new to Facebook!), these virtual “friends” are simply something new to collect the way he was probably collecting Pokémons a year or two ago. And when kids are collecting something, the more, the better. No offense, but they’re not particularly fussy about the quality of the specimen.
So should you accept the invitation? It depends on the content of what your grown-up friends post. If they swear a lot or post things inappropriate for an 11-year-old to read, I’d say no. But if that’s all harmless, it’s fine to hit “confirm.” I certainly don’t think your friend status will have much effect on the esteem in which you’re held by your son’s peer group. Most likely, this new Facebooker invited everyone in the computer’s contact list, and you’re giving this invitation waaaay more thought than he gave to sending it.
I recently started dating a buddy’s ex-girlfriend. (We are all college students but at different schools.) To be honest, I was pretty crazy about her when they were together, but I never let either of them know. I didn’t give it much thought. But they split up, a couple months went by, I saw her at a party, and next thing you know, we’re spending all our time together this summer. My buddy – or former buddy – has been definitely cold towards me since he learned (from someone else) that we’re together. But what’s weird is that I am learning through her that he made up all this stuff about me (and another friend of ours) that I don’t even know where he got or what he was talking about. I mean TOTALLY made it up. I’m lucky she even gave me a chance with what she thought she knew about me. I want to call this guy out on what he was saying, but my girlfriend wants me to just forget about it. My only thing is, I want him to know that the stories have to stop. But I think she feels kind of bad about the way their relationship ended and she doesn’t want to stir up bad feelings. I’m in the middle of it and would like a take from someone a little more objective. Thanks.
Dear Fictional Character,
Wow. Are you sure you hid the fact that you thought your friend’s girlfriend was so great? Because on the surface, it sounds like your friend had a feeling that was the case and he was engaging in a little preemptive undermining.
At any rate, it sounds like your friendship is all done. Though you did nothing wrong, the love triangle put it on life support, and the stories pulled the plug. So assuming this was nothing more than a pretty pathetic attempt to make you as undesirable as possible, I’d put the whole thing behind me. If you learn that he’s still bad-mouthing you or the old lies spread farther than you realized, you can still get in touch and tell him to knock it off and set the record straight. But if the damage has been contained to just the three of you, there’s too much good stuff going on in your present and future to dwell on the past.
John is a middle-aged family man from Providence, Rhode Island. If you learn from your mistakes, he’s brilliant. Write to him at email@example.com. He's away from the advice desk this week, so he's chosen some of his favorite letters from previous columns to share.
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