My Job

Buffy: I’m going to be a buyer.
Merrick: Of what?
Buffy: I dunno. It’s just a job I heard of. Sounded pretty cool, you know? Buyer, buying, to buy… I like that.

–Buffy the Vampire Slayer (film), 1992

Aaaand, yep. That’s pretty much the it. A buyer buys.

Except it also involves a lot of sitting on the phone, listening to hold music, or sitting on the phone, listening to a nurse yell that something’s not here, or sitting on the phone, listening to someone tell you that the product you need today is on backorder until the heat death of the universe.

One day, my work sent out a little reminder that 51 years earlier the first successful human mitral valve replacement was done at our hospital. I was all, “Cool.” Then, not five minutes later, I was handed a purchase order to call in for mitral valves. And I was all, “Super cool. I love living in the future.”

(Shut up, dude, I’m from California, I’m, like, licensed to talk like that.)

Anyway, I thought this was noteworthy enough to be discussed on my Twitter. And one of my Twitter-friends said, “That means you’re in all those people’s hearts! I think that’s sweet!”

My job is a lot of paper pushing. A lot. I only see patients if they’re on the same bus as I am, and they get off at a stop a quarter mile from mine. So it takes moments like this to remind me that the paper I’m pushing around is actually going to help real, live human beings.

For the next day or two, it colored all my thoughts as I ordered.
“I’m a small part of this spinal implant.”
“I’m a small part of this skin graft.”
“I’m a small part of this skull plate.”

And then, inevitably because this is one of our procedures, an order crossed my desk and I had the following thought:

“I’m a small part of this breast implant– Waitaminute…”

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