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Doctor Curmudgeon® To Text or Not To Text – That is NOT the Question!


By Diane Batshaw Eisman, M.D. FAAFP

“To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
the heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks
that Flesh is heir to?”

Yes, I have resorted to Hamlet in the “nunnery scene”; (one of the several Quartos of this soliloquy, and the most well-known)

He appeared to be deciding whether to avenge his father’s murder and rails against the unfairness of life as he contemplates the alternative

However, Doctor Curmudgeon® in her frustration, anger, and mild madness is wreaking her havoc upon those who text inappropriately

I insist on believing that if Prince Hamlet were with us today, he would have gone a tad freaky over people texting and being oblivious to him

Yes, dear Prince, life can be unfair but right now I am focused on texters…and I know the alternative to texting: it is not necessary for me to do much reflection:


Does this seem excessive? Not to me.

Let me speak to all of thou with my latest texting encounter:

As I was examining a young woman in my office, and had just placed stethoscope upon her chest, she reached over, grabbed her cell phone and began to text. Removing the tubes from my ears, I quite pleasantly said to her:

“Please stop texting.”

She had the graciousness to look up at me and smile.

Thinking my message had wended its way to her brain, I resumed my cardiac exam.

Again, she reached for her phone.

Again, I, almost as pleasantly, made the same request.

And, of course, she smiled and picked up that damnable phone.

Yanking the stethoscope from my ears, I screeched in full curmudgeon, “YOU ARE VERY RUDE.”

The offensive texter just stared at me in astonishment and shock. She was stunned to learn that her behavior was rude!

We have all experienced those who are texting and as we enter the room with a greeting, they quickly hold up one finger for us to wait as they resume their text. (In my mind, I hold a different finger pointed at the offender)

Signs wander over the waiting room and crawl over the walls requesting cell phones to be silenced during a visit with the physician. Hah! Also ignored!

A gynecologist told me of patients who have reached for their cell after speculums have been inserted.

I await the “slings and arrows” of my readers for my presumptuousness in using this elegant soliloquy* in this simplistic context

Doctor Curmudgeon® is Diane Batshaw Eisman, M.D., a physician-satirist. This column originally appeared on SERMO, the leading global social network for doctors.

SERMO www.sermo.com “talk real world medicine”