Q: How did you get a job at a dentists’ office?
A: I was working at a temp agency as a temp coordinator—I was sending people out on jobs. But the owner was so racist I had to quit. When I told her I was leaving she sort of blackmailed me into taking this job.
Q: She was racist?
A: She would go by where people lived when deciding if she should send them out on a job or not. If they were from the bad side of town she wouldn’t send them.
Q: How old were you?
A: I was 24.
Q: What kind of job did you do for the dentists? Office work?
A: I was the receptionist. There was only one dentist. It was the dentist, a hygienist, a part-time dental assistant, and me.
Q: So, was it quiet there?
A: Actually, it was pretty busy. He was a holistic dentist; he didn’t use a lot of chemicals. In Boston there are a lot of earthy, crunchy people around. So he was pretty busy.
Q: Did he use Novocain?
A: He preferred not to, but he would if you wanted him to. He would try other things first, like music … or … I don’t really recall. I think he may have used laughing gas.
Q: Did you ever get your teeth worked on there?
A: He was a little too expensive for me at the time.
I would answer the phone, greet people, take their money or insurance information.
A couple of times he asked me to hold the instruments. That freaked me out.
Q: Did people ever scream?
A: Of course! One patient, she would just wail, “You’re hurting me! Stop hurting me!” and she’d call him by name. I can’t remember his name, but she would yell at him. And it was just an open hallway. There were no doors.
Other people would more moan or grunt. You know that sound people make when they have stuff in their mouth. Like aarrgh. But that one lady, she berated the guy.
I am terrified of the dentist. My childhood dentist committed suicide. He was also my neighbor and I was traumatized.
Q: Don’t dentists have a high suicide rate? Or is that podiatrists?
A: I think dentists do. I don’t know about podiatrists. Maybe they do too.
Q: When was the last time you went to the dentist?
A: About a year ago I got back in the saddle. I went about six years without going, but I make myself do it, because I want my teeth when I’m 50.
Q: Did you ever get any free toothbrushes or anything?
A: No free stuff. They tried to foist natural remedies on me. Like Noni juice. Have you heard of Noni juice?
Q: No, what is it?
A: It’s this natural juice that’s used to remedy a variety of illnesses. It is meant to promote good health in general and to ease pain and illness.
Q: Anything else interesting about working there?
A: Well, I’m kind of a snoop. Even though I was only there for a week and I was pretty busy, I was looking through the files and I saw a familiar last name. I realized it was Ric Ocasek’s ex-wife—you know, Ric Ocasek from the Cars? She has his former last name, which was Otcasek, I think. He dropped the “t.”
Q: How did you know it was his ex-wife?
A: He left her for Paulina Porizkova.
Q: How strange that you know that.
A: I know. I’m great at trivia and I know all of these random things, like Ric Ocasek’s former name.
Q: Were you sad to leave?
A: Hell no. I couldn’t wait to get out of there, as I had been practically blackmailed into taking the job. But this was the beginning of the teeth-whitening fad, you know, where everyone was starting to have their teeth whitened. And they would take the “before” pictures, so you could have a “before” and “after” picture of your teeth. And I never got to see the “after” pictures.
Q: Why did you leave?
A: That was the length of the assignment. I went to a dot-com after that.