Every once in a while, though, somebody goes above and beyond and says something that makes me go *blink*.
About a young, gay, HIV+ guy I was taking care of: "You have to watch out. Those people will try to spit on you or bite you and give you the AIDS."
About a young female sex worker with a galloping case of CNS cancer: "What do you expect, with a lifestyle like that?"
Me: "Tell that to the chick in the next room." (A young female Evangelical Christian missionary with, you guessed it, a galloping case of CNS cancer.)
About a woman who topped 400 pounds and had recently had gastric bypass: "Jesus Christ, woman! Go for a walk!"
Me: After we all rolled our eyes at that nurse, I started thinking about how we wouldn't tell people with heroin addiction to just say no--after all, Nancy Reagan was rightly criticized for a simplistic approach to drug addiction. Yet we expect people with chemical imbalances just as serious as those in drug addictions to...what? Push away from the table? Just say "no" to a slice of pie? Why aren't food addictions treated as carefully and aggressively as drug and alcohol addictions?
About a man with a history of clinical depression: "Oh, great. Another whining drama queen."
Me: "Excuse me? EXCUSE ME? What the FUCK??" (Yeah, the Effexor makes me a little aggressive sometimes. Wanna make something of it?)
About a recent African immigrant who had lots of family in the room: "You can't tell those people anything. They're just animals."
Me: *blink* *blink* *gape*
My Ghanian coworker: "Excuse me? Excuse me? What the FUCK??"
About a female bodybuilder who'd come in for back surgery: "That sort of muscle on a woman is just so dykey."
My bodybuilding coworker: (leaning her muscular upper body over the table) "What? I can't hear you. Could you repeat that, please?"
Yeah. So we have some winners in our ranks, for sure. Sheesh.
The only thing to do, when faced with a bigot or a jerk, is to call them out on it. Sometimes you have to call them out repeatedly and loudly, as in the case of the nurse (now thankfully gone) who'd expound on the sinfulness and horribleness of various lifestyles other than her own. Sometimes a raised eyebrow is all it takes. And sometimes, in the case of the nurse who warned me that my patient would "try to give me the AIDS", all you can do is blink and walk away.