They should tell you about chapstick

They should tell you to wear chapstick. Heck, they should provide you with chapstick. With your mouth hanging open for hours and your whole head anaesthetized so you can’t feel anything, split lips must be common.

I hate dentists. But they are something that must be endured.

I’d wished I’d had chapstick on my last visit to get my teeth x-rayed. I came prepared this time, so my lips were well lubricated. But why do dentists expect you to converse with them while your mouth is full of their hands and metal equipment? I suppose for the same reason none of them ever think of providing lip lube for the procedure.

I was scared. There were needles. It took three injections to make me numb. One big needle, then ZZZZZZ goes the drill. “Ow!” goes me. In with another needle. Repeat.

Think peaceful thoughts. Tell yourself how professional this dentist is. The mantra: he knows exactly what he’s doing. He knows exactly what he’s doing.

Why does it feel like he’s drilled entirely through my upper canine into the other side? What’s going on?

Breathe. He knows exactly what he’s doing.

I breathe. Then I count to one hundred repeatedly to tick off the necessary seconds it will take to complete this.

Then I search around in my head to think of something else to think about. I decide to think about my credenz. In my head, I imagined all the things I needed to do to refinish this piece of furniture.

First, I would need to take the old and discolored stain off. The top, the sides, the drawers would all need to be stripped and scrubbed. I’d take off the drawer handles and scrub every nook and groove down to the bare wood.

I’d wash it, and then sand it, and wash it again.

There would be a few repairs to make. The two front legs are wobbly. I think that just takes a nail to secure in place. But the one drawer sticks when you pull it in and out. I’m not sure how to fix that. Maybe I can look it up.

These thoughts kept my mind away from the dentist drill.

I love to think about all the parts and steps of a process. One of my earliest memories—I was maybe three years old—was lying under the pew at church trying to figure out how it was made.

Naturally I was bored with the sermon. So I wiggled underneath the pews, which had been lovingly made in the pastor’s garage.

First, I was struck by how different the pew looked from underneath.. I even got up to look at the pew from the top again. Yes, it was the same object.

Then I started trying to understand why it looked the way it did. I saw the bare wood and the edge of the fabrics tacked down by staples. I saw edges of nail on the sides where the legs were.

I began to see how this pew was constructed! It was very thrilling to me. I could see in my mind, how they very carefully tucked the fabric around underneath and stapled it in place, and then took the backs and sides and nailed them in place after the upholstery was there and not before.

I could tell how the whole thing was put together. I ran it like a movie in my head, all the steps along the way to make this familiar thing.

All the steps that must be done carefully and in their right time—any other way and it wouldn’t work.

I think of these sorts of things all the time. What step? What’s needed? When? Anything else? How will it get there? How will people know they need it and find it when it’s needed?

Not everyone thinks this way. Perhaps some people just can’t. I can see the far goal and the immediate steps that start the motion towards that goal.

I try to have patience with those who don’t see that near/far view. The little and the big make the world go round.

Of course, my credenz is an unchanging object. It will stay still until I get around to it. Other projects are actually processes.

Processes are things that you do repeatedly. Every morning I must wake, shower, dress myself and drive to work.

Can I improve that? What would happen if I set my clothes out the night before? What about the shoes? Shower the night before? These are all ways to work on and improve a process.

It takes thought. It takes FORE thought. It takes AFTER thought. It takes awareness and willingness to notice and try.

It takes faith. You have to believe that what you are doing is important and worth doing better. You have to believe that your time and your life’s quality deserves attention and thought. You have to believe that you CAN improve the processes.

I saw a representative from Wal-Mart discuss this principle on TV. Wal-Mart is known for squeezing their suppliers to get the best price.

There is a bottom to how low the prices can go. Even Wal-Mart can’t get all their stuff for nothing.

But they have a commitment to getting more and better ‘deals’. If they can’t get a cheaper pair of shorts, then let it be a better-sewn pair. And once it’s quality workmanship, there is still a way to go one better.

Let it have cute little flowers sewn on the pockets—‘fashion.’

Never never rest. Always look for a way to do better.

Is it any wonder Wal-Mart has the staggering success it has?

I want that. I want to be with a bunch of people that want the bar of ‘better’ to be raised on a regular basis.

Good enough should never be good enough. Good enough is boring.

I want to be like the kids playing outside. ‘Can you reach that tree branch if you jump? Jump as high as you can. Yay! Made it. What about the next one?’

Jump high! Be better. Because it feels good to be good. And it feels good to be better.

That’s what I want for my credenz. I want to remake it beautiful, and I want to do a good job at this difficult task. I know that I can do it all by myself and I don’t have to rely on anyone else. No worries, I can make it perfect. It makes me happy just to think about it.

The dentist is finally done. He tells me that my new crown is “temporary” and I have to come back for a permanent one in two weeks.

Bad process. Why didn’t they tell me this when I made the appointment? Come to think of it, they didn’t even tell me what work they were doing before I arrived.

Bad process.

I think about telling them about my chapstick idea, to help with patients’ lips.

But I do not have faith in them. I do not think they will hear me.

One thought on “They should tell you about chapstick

  1. My dentist puts vaseline on my lips if I ask. I listen to classical music with my CD player to distract me. That’s amazing that you think of processes. What my little three year old daughter can dream up is incredible to me.