We’re not as young as we used to be, so a smooth handoff from our health care providers in Chicago to new doctors in Austin has been a priority. The first time we encountered a doctor pitching her side-hustle from the office it seemed amusing. The second time it was odd. As it became a steady, inescapable pattern we’ve become concerned about what this will mean for our lives.
Seems like every provider here is pitching a magic tincture or some ointment that cures what ails ya. This was not a feature of our lives in Yankeeland. It doesn’t seem to matter whether we’re visiting doctors in the “urban core” or out in the suburbs. I took this photo in my doctor’s office on Friday.
The day before, my wife’s doctor pitched her an herbal cure he sold that would have complicated a condition he knew she had. Perhaps we’re just encountering a few bad apples, but if so then we have a talent for finding them. And so do all our friends and neighbors.
Professional standards around conflict of interest haven’t been the only concern. Infrastructure for basic data sharing seem non-existent. As a cancer patient, my care is pretty complex. Having a doctor rely on my recitation from memory of medications, dosages, and dates of treatment is unsettling. At dinner the other night a friend shared the Google sheet she maintains for that purpose since her doctors are otherwise unable to consistently track this data. We did not live this way in Chicago. Never once did it occur to me that I might need to keep track of this otherwise automated, shared and authoritatively tracked data because a provider would have no simple way to access it (#ThirdWorldProblems).
Far from our doctors’ offices, we got a peek at the side-hustle lifestyle at the other end of the spectrum this week. I went downstairs to unplug our car just before bed, since we have to avoid recharging in the daytime now due to power grid instability. On the first floor of our parking garage, which is open to short-term visitors, a young couple was wandering, looking for help. Their car, parked in a visitor spot, had died, and they needed a jump-start. They were DoorDash drivers who had just completed a delivery at our building. Now they were stuck in a very hostile environment.
Before I could bring our other car down to help, a passing Uber driver hooked them up with jumper cables. It wasn’t working. When I offered to pay for a Lyft to get them home so they could start rallying help they looked at each other for a moment and hesitated. That car, a beat-up Corolla built somewhere around 2008 which they’d purchased just a week before, served as both their hustle and their home. This posed an additional problem as the tow trucks would be making their nightly prowl through the parking garage to reap any unregistered or improperly parked vehicles. Pushing the car out of the garage and into street parking could have spared them a tow, but the car wouldn’t shift out of park.
I went back upstairs to register them in our system as a guest in the hope that this might prevent their home from being carted 15 miles away and held for ransom. Since the car was sitting in a temporary guest spot I had little confidence this would work. Meanwhile we gathered up some food, water and cash to take down. By the time I returned they were gone, though the car remained. The next morning the car was gone. No idea what happened to them.
Maybe they followed the advice from my doctor’s side-hustle and realized that “failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” Maybe they used this opportunity to lift themselves up by the bootstraps they don’t have. Maybe I’ll find them sleeping in the park tomorrow. It’s a town full of hustlers, but all hustles are not created equal.