Tag Archives: doctor

Urine Sample Joke

Background:

My informant learned this joke from his dad, who himself was a doctor. It was passed to my informant when he was a young man. His father claimed he was the originator of the joke and that he really performed it himself, as the doctor in the joke was a colleague and friend. While my informant can’t validate that claim, he says that he tends to believe it because his father was always a prankster during his life.

Context:

This occurrence is supposed to have originally happened sometime in the 1950s during a physical exam that was being performed on my informant’s father. While I was an interview for USC’s folklore collection, my friend (and the informant’s grandson) entered the room and said something about how he had a doctor’s appointment the next day. This reminded my informant of the joke, and he proceeded to tell it.

Main Piece:

“My dad went in for a physical. When he went to the bathroom to give a urine sample, he had snuck in a flask of warm, flat beer. So instead of peeing in the cup he poured the warm flat beer in the cup. So when he came back out he put it on the counter… When the doctor stuck the litmus paper into the cup–that’s how they used to test pee samples–he says “wow your alcohol levels are off the charts, we’re gonna have to run the test again.” As my dad knocked the cup of beer back he announced, “let’s just run it through again.”

Analysis:

Personally, I think this joke is hilarious on its own, but I would also consider it to be a stunning example of how workplace folklore is created. Assuming that my informant’s father actually did play this prank on one of his doctor colleagues, it shows that getting to know people in a work setting often opens a door to real friendship. My informant’s father probably chose to get a physical from this doctor because they had spent time in close quarters getting to know each other first. While the man performing the stunt may not have been on duty at the time, the interaction between the two likely became something that was frequently talked about and shared between their fellow medical professionals–my informant made it a point to mention that his father loved telling the joke.

Meaning Behind The Proverb “Hope For The Best, Prepare For The Worst”

Main Piece: 

Original Proverb: “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.” 

Meaning as told by my informant: 

“It’s honestly pretty self explanatory. It’s good to be an optimist… you should always root for what you want and have faith. However, you can’t be naive about it. You should always have some kind of plan B or safety net if things don’t go as planned. The idea of this line is that you have to balance those two things. Offence and defense. Feet on the ground, head in the clouds… dream big, but be okay if things don’t work out.” 

Background:

My informant is my father, who is a retired doctor. Although he was a surgeon, his work mainly consisted of him doing expert witness work in legal cases. He first heard this proverb while preparing for a case, and he still primarily associates the saying with attorneys. However, he believes it applies to all contexts of life. While he’s a big fan of proverbs and jokes in general, this one is likely his favorite. As his child, I can vouch that he says this all the time. 

Context: 

While I’m not in quarantine with my informant/father, I do call him every day, and this piece was collected during a routine call. 

Thoughts: 

To me, this proverb will always be my father’s best advice. Having been involved in the performing arts since a young age, I have countless distinct memories of my father reciting this proverb to me as he picked me up from auditions. He said it before I opened every college admission letter. No matter what I was doing, I could always count on him telling me to “hope for the best, prepare for the worst.” I don’t think of it as being optimistic or skeptical, it’s just real. One of the things I love about this proverb is that it can apply to not just any situation, but any culture. I briefly Googled this proverb after my interview, and found that there really is no origin to it. There are countless articles with countless nationalities. I think this saying speaks to the human experience in general: we’re all just trying to live life the best we can. We want to see the beauty in the world, but not be hurt by life’s struggles. It’s theater’s drama and comedy, or Chinese mythology’s Yin and Yang. We are all trying to find a balance. 

Doctor playing a prank to get money

Main Piece:

Informant: There was this man. He was older and kinda wanted to make money. So he did this thing, it’s kinda like a riddle or funny story. So the man wanted to get money quick, so he opened up a doctor’s office. And he said, “if you come in you have to pay me $500, but if I kill you I have to give you $1,000.

Interviewer: What happens if he kills you?

Informant: You have to give him $500, but if he doesn’t cure you he gives you $1,000. And so this man thought it was an easy way to get money, because he didn’t think he knew that much. He came in and said, “I lost my taste. I can’t taste anything.” And the man says “Open box #22.” And he gives him something. And he tastes it and says “Oh, this is gasoline.” And the doctor said, congratulations, you have your taste buds back. That’ll be $500. And then the man got really angry and he came back there and said something about, I forget what it was. Oh yea, he was like “I can’t see. I’m losing my eyesight.” And he said, “Open box 22” or something like that. And then he did something and um, “congratulations you have your eyesight back.” 

So that day he lost $1,500.

Background:

The informant is a ten-year-old Native American girl from the Choctaw, Blackfoot, and Lakota Nations. She was born and raised in Tennessee and frequently travels out west to visit family and friends. She is in fourth grade.

Context:

During the Covid-19 Pandemic I flew back home to Tennessee to stay with my family. The informant is my younger sister. I asked her is she knew any jokes or riddles.

Thoughts:

Proverbs, riddles, and.charms are three of the shorter forms of folklore. They are not necessarily confined to oral expression, having appeared in written literature for ages. The purpose of the riddle is usually to deceive its listener regarding its meaning. A descriptions is given where the answer must be deciphered. Many times riddles are used as a contest of wits. She kind left out a few bits or jumped around a bit. Sorry if the piece is a bit contradictory. I think this joke reflects the growing distrust that people have toward doctors and the overall healthcare system while simultaneously showing the greed of the populace.

Folk Medicine — Face is red, raise the head

Text

The following piece was collected from a fifty-two year old Caucasian man from Chicago, Illinois. The man will hereafter be referred to as the “Informant”, and I the “Collector”.

Informant: “My father was a doctor, he was always bring home doctorly advice for us kids.”

Collector: “What did he say?”

Informant: (laughing) “I remember, probably his most common medical phrase, a simple solution to seemingly every ailment, went like this: ‘Face is red, raise the head. Face is pale, raise the tail.’”

Collector: “What does that mean?”

Informant: “Just what it sounds like. If you’re face is red, stand up so some of the blood leaves your head. If your face is pale, you need more blood to flow to it, so you raise the bottom half of your body. But sometimes, he’d say it when no one was sick. Sometimes, I think he meant it in a whole other way completely.”

Collector: “What other way did he mean it?”

Informant: “He never said, but I always thought he meant that sometimes there was an easy…a simple solution to something. Like I was overthinking something, and he would tell me to ‘raise the head’ and I would go with my gut. The easiest solution.”

Context

The Informant learned this saying from his father, an orthopedic surgeon. He informed me that his father was constantly weaving his career into his everyday life, and one of his most common ways of doing this was by informing his children of his many medical insights. The Informant remembers this phrase, tells it to his own children, for its simple effectiveness and its complete ability to be applied to countless scenarios.

Interpretation

I agree with my Informant: the simple solution within the phrase is an easy way to fix a small ailment. Similarly, I really enjoy the thought that it can be applied to other situations, ones that do not involve a physical ailment. Meaning behind simple phrases or sayings always seems to me to reveal so much more.

Ironic Doctor Joke

Would you mind sharing a joke from your childhood with me?

“This is a joke that my dad, uhh, told me. Uhh… [tells the joke in Farsi, but the phonetics are muddled in the recording.]

The English translation is that my dad told me that ‘Whenever you get sick, be sure to go to the doctor. Uhh… Because, you know, the doctor has to make a living, he has to live. So when you go to the doctor, make sure you get a prescription, and take it to the pharmacist, and get your, you know, get your medication, because the pharmacist has to make a living too, he has to live also. And when you get your prescription, make sure you don’t take it yourself, because you want to live, too!'”

And what was the context that that would be delivered in, like, why was that a joke, why was that funny?

“Uhh, generally, everybody’s out there to make a living, you know, but you want to make sure it’s not at your expense. So you’re not a, uhh, sacrificial lamb for everyone else to make a living.”

Analysis: Keeping with the trend of cautionary proverbs and stories, this ironic joke from MB explains through humor that not everyone, even often-trusted authorities, ought to be trusted outright. With Masood’s background growing up poor in Iran, this may make some sense, but it is interesting to note how often distrust or wariness comes up in the lessons that he and Tahereh were taught when they were growing up.