He Did His Research… But At What Cost?

, , , , , | Healthy | November 14, 2020

When I am a graduate student, I go to my university’s health clinic for routine HIV screening. My personal history is very low risk, but I am a sexually active gay man, and the CDC recommends testing of all MSM — men who have sex with men — every three to six months.

The testing at this clinic involves making an appointment, filling out a questionnaire, talking with a counselor, getting blood drawn, and then talking with a counselor again a week later. All of the counselors are, themselves, graduate students in either physical or mental health programs; most of them are not really prepared for a patient who can quote health statistics from the most recent literature on population-level studies of HIV-positive individuals in high-income countries.

The first few times are fine, though the counselors clearly are a bit surprised to be dealing with someone who hasn’t had drunken unprotected sex and is now worried about it, but is just there for routine testing.

Then, I have the Awful Counselor.

Awful Counselor: “When were you last tested?”

Me: “Either four or five months ago. I know it was in [Month], but I don’t remember if it was at the beginning or end of the month.”

Awful Counselor: “How many sexual partners have you had since then?”

Me: “One partner in that time frame, oral sex only.”

Awful Counselor: “Is this a new partner?”

Me: “No. I’ve had sex with him before, too. He’s one of my four partners so far in my life.”

Awful Counselor: “So, why are you here?”

Me: “Because health authorities recommend regular testing for any sexually active MSM?

Awful Counselor: “But you were here less than six months ago. No one should be tested more often than once a year unless they’re doing something they shouldn’t be.”

Me: “Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the CDC specifically say that any sexually active MSM should be tested every three to six months?”

Awful Counselor: “Yes, but that’s wrong. It clearly shouldn’t be more often than once a year.”

She then rants about why people should get tested less often.

Me: “Well, okay, but I’m going to follow the CDC recommendations here. I trust them.”

Awful Counselor: “And you list yourself as low-anxiety?”

Me: “Yes. I know from my personal history that my odds of having contracted HIV are very low. But, there’s value from a public health standpoint if there’s more widespread compliance with recommended testing protocols.”

Awful Counselor: “Well, no one with the history you list would be here if they’re not anxious. So, either you are high-anxiety or this is not your accurate history. And that makes me wonder what else you’re lying about.”

Me: “Excuse me? You’re… accusing me of lying because I’m following CDC guidelines?”

Awful Counselor: “It’s possible that it’s not intentional on your part. But there’s no way everything you’ve said is true.”

Me: “You have literally no way to know that. And it’s also not even remotely your job to determine that. We’re done here.”

I left her office, told the secretary that the counselor hadn’t given me my paperwork for the blood draw, and went down to get the draw. I also grabbed a comment card and filled out how ludicrous and inappropriate the counselor was. For the rest of my time as a student there, I asked for a different counselor if I was assigned to the Awful Counselor. I don’t know how she kept that job.

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My Therapist, Brian

, , , , , | Right | August 4, 2020

I am working with a hypnotherapist to stop grinding my teeth. He is a crass-humoured, grey-bearded man about twice my age. He is Jewish and knows I am a Christian, and every so often, we have the following conversation, if you can call it that:

Therapist: “I am one of God’s chosen people.”

He then seems to expect me to be fazed by the statement. I am not. I mean, even if there was any theological disagreement, that’s not something to get fazed by. Eventually, however, he comes out with something a little different.

Therapist: “I am the Chosen One.”

Me: “You’re not the Messiah; you’re a very naughty boy!”

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A Questionable Mood Change

, , , , | Right | July 30, 2020

I work at a community mental health agency as an outpatient counselor, assessing a client’s overall emotional functioning. 

Me: “I have some questions for you today, just to check in and see how you’re doing.”

Client: “You know what? I’m sick and tired of you and your f****** questions. I’m sick of people telling me what to do. I’m not coming back to this f****** place after today.”

Me: “If you prefer not to do this now, that’s okay. You can decide not to do the assessment; I’d understand.”

Client: *sighs* “Fine, I’ll do it. Let’s get this done.”

Me: “Would you say you feel irritable always, often, sometimes, rarely, or never?”

Client: “Never. I’m doing pretty good with that.”

I maintain composure and complete the rest of the assessment.

Me: *Finishing session* “I think we’ve done enough for today. Would you like to meet next week?”

Client: “Sure, this time works because I get out of work at three.”

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Smelling Them Like It Is

, , , , , , | Right | June 5, 2020

I’m a professional and qualified aromatherapist. I work in a local shop that specializes in selling all-natural bath and body products, as well as therapeutic quality essential oils. The customer — if you can call her that — enters the store.

Customer: “Yuck, it smells gross in here!”

Me: “I’m sorry you feel that way.”

Customer: “Seriously, how can you work here?”

Me: “I personally enjoy the scent. I find natural fragrances tend to be much nicer than those of toxic synthetics.”

I can smell the cheap perfume she’s bathed in from across the store.

Customer: “Well, I don’t like it! It’s a terrible smell!”

Me: “No one is forcing you to stay here. You came in on your own accord, and you are more than welcome to turn around and leave.”

Customer: “I will! Tell the owner this is a horrible shop!”

Me: “Our clients say otherwise, but I’ll be sure to pass your comment along. And please be sure to take your disgusting attitude and terrible perfume with you when you leave. Have a wonderful day!”

The customer’s face was priceless.

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If They Had Been Having An Affair, Did She Think They’d Admit It?

, , , , , | Working | April 30, 2020

We have had a new counselor start with our agency who is one of the most socially awkward people I have ever met. She asks inappropriate questions, talks about weird topics, and is just generally odd.

Our agency has two separate locations that meet weekly for meetings. My husband works on one team and I work on the other. We are very conscious about not showing that we are together and at the max, we occasionally sit next to each other. While we don’t just come out and tell new hires we are married, most people figure it out due to us having the same last name.

The new hire is in our boss’s office when I walk by and she asks me a question.

New Hire: “Hey, [My Name], are you and [My Husband] having an affair?”

I stop and for a moment I’m unsure what to say. My boss is momentarily stunned, as well. I finally manage a response.

Me: “Uh, no. We’re actually married. To each other.”

[New Hire] thinks for a moment.

New Hire: “Oh, okay. That makes a lot more sense. I saw you sitting next to each other at the meeting.”

My boss was trying really hard not to laugh and waved me out of her office. I heard her telling [New Hire] that that was a “completely inappropriate” thing to ask.

My husband found it hysterical, as did our coworkers. I’ve been asked many times if my husband and I are together, but never like that!

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