Written by Larry Schecter, DMD
Friday morning at Epes (pronounced epps) Dental Center at Fort Mead, Maryland and the weekend is already aka “finally” here. I happily arrive and park my automobile, confidently sashay to the front reception desk and was handed my orders and schedule for the day. After all, I am a doctor and a Captain so how could any unhappiness occur today?
The manila envelope I was handed, with holes in it and the string tie around the paper washer thing, felt a bit heavier today. When I unwound the string and emptied the “Inter-departmental Communication” I was blessed with the dreaded MEDDAC beeper.
“Congratulations Doc, looks like you are OD for the night,” quipped Private PopEye, front desk custodian and hanger arounder.
A beautiful Friday evening, but promises of Marines running into doors and Army guys falling down steps await me along with a night of honing my lip stitching skills. Eh bien, one day of comp time was earned for every night I spend at the hospital ER with Big Bopper, the singing corpsman (pronounced corpse man of course). Big was a superb Dental Surgical Assistant I should add.
I enter my Operatory Room #2 where my ravishing, yes really good looking, civilian Expanded Functions Dental Auxiliary (EFDA) was already awaiting my presence. Ms. Blondie-blond, well endowed, married, separated, and definitely prowling. She always had her 45 calibers pointed at me and everyday invites me to dinner at her place. Daily, my fellow practitioners drool at me saying “Why don’t you go to dinner? She is an excellent cook (smile smile).”
By this point in time, I have been practicing here for almost two years and my end date is in sight. Not looking to be dispatched by an angry, separated husband or boyfriend, I pass on the invitation again. Dentistry as practiced at Epes at this time, employs Dentists to anesthetize the patients in each operatory, prepare the teeth for fillings and the EFDA fills with silver amalgam. All the assistants were excellent at Epes and could be well paid in private practice.
The Docs, on the other hand, were oppositely amusing, but entertaining never-the-less.
There was the most memorable, Doctor Klyde. He was a thin, springy-type guy with eyeballs half hanging out of his face. He was our resident, recently wed gynodontist who would wander through the rows of GI’s awaiting treatment looking for women who had not yet been helped. This day, as on so many other days, the Docs had to retrieve him and return him to his room. He managed to get in some trouble before discharge. I couldn’t believe this would ever occur in the US Army Professional Dental Corps!
Dr. Lollipop, was a sad case. Very slow, he never used a high speed handpiece (drill) but had a sweet tooth for hard candy. Loli was married to a beautiful woman and a had a doll of a five-year-old little girl. She always had a lollipop or sucker in her mouth. He said it kept her quiet. That saddened me.
Dr. Navy Guy was a bulldog of a man, who wore a wonderful red handlebar mustache. He was a very skilled oral surgeon, jovial and helpful to all. Tragically, he passed from a heart attack about a month after I exited the service.
Lunch time! One hour! Great restaurant at the NSA Fortress adjacent to our office. Always ominous driving into their parking lot, the communications antennae and radar dishes were looming and foreboding. They really piqued my interest. I am a licensed Ham radio operator so radio communications always attracted me. And there was that sign, “Nothing you see or hear while on these premises leaves the building!” It was a great place to relieve the stresses of the morning, plus the food was quite good as was the service.
Afternoons at Epes would tend to be less busy. While the EFDAs were filling teeth, the Dentists would go to the Doctor’s Lounge and shoot the bull. At day’s end, my colleagues would get on me again, “Are you going to Blondie’s place for dinner tonight? Tell us how good it was” they added.
“Not tonight boys,” I replied, “Hospital, but ooh you just wait until my comp time!” Teaser, they deserved it.
Finally, I am homeward bound. I must stop at the gas station ’cause I need some gas and hopefully some conversation from the attractive female mechanic. She was always covered in grease and oil and I often wondered if she could clean up well for a date.
For dinner I stop at the local steak house before returning home. The food was good but unhappily, this restaurant was often visited by the homeless who would help themselves to leftovers before the tables were bussed.
Such is a day of Army life of a MEDDAC Dentist living in Laurel Maryland.
Please note that the names of staff in this narrative have been changed to protect the innocents, namely me, but the personnel are real.