You pay first, yes?


My cousin Bobby has always been known as being very thrifty, so it was a surprise when asked me to give him a ride to and from the dentist office. It wasn’t him asking me for the ride that surprised me, it was the fact that he was actually going to pay to see a real dentist. You have to drop $200 just to walk in the door nowadays and I’ve never seen him spend $200 in one month. See, Bobby is a firm believer in paying as little as possible for anything and everything. If he needs a haircut, he gets a free one at the beauty college (or whatever they’re calling them these days). If he needs to be checked for diabetes, he’ll wait until spring to come around, when the ADA has free screenings. If he needs stitches, he’ll go buy some superglue and Rambo it.

Anyway, I hadn’t seen him for a while, maybe six or seven months, and he sounded terrible on the phone when he called me last Thursday night, like he was in real pain. He had already gone to a couple of dentists-in-training, but his condition was too advanced for them to properly treat it. Evidently, he had all four of his wisdom teeth halfway grown out, with the bottom two growing in at a ninety-degree angle, and another one being impacted or whatever they call it. The poor asshole could barely talk, much less eat.

Once he told me how bad it was, I told him I’d be right over, because I assumed he needed to go right now, like it was an emergency. But, he said that he was waiting until Tuesday to go. Heh? Apparently, he found a Serb who just opened shop on Montrose and who gives a 10% discount for off-peak time appointments. OK, I can see that being a good deal, if you’re having your teeth cleaned, but not if you’re in need of having four teeth pulled and maybe some more stuff done. But, Bobby’s a grown man and I didn’t say anything. Besides, I could run over to La Sierra for some grub after I drop him off.

So this morning rolls around, I drive over, pick him up and he tells me that he needs to stop off by Six Corners first to buy some guys Link card. He says that the guy will only hold it until 11:00 a.m. and then he’ll sell it to someone else. Aw, come on, man! With my luck, this is the same asshole Chuck Goudie ‘s been following around for two months, waiting to catch him selling a fucking Link card, and I’m the asshole getaway driver, who’s made out to be part of some elaborate criminal enterprise or something. Hey, we’ve all seen Chuck do it. He’s a bad motherfucker.

Against my best judgement, I went ahead and took him to buy the card, then we’re driving down Montrose, and Bobby tells me to look for an old gas station, like the ones in the movies. Heh? If it were anybody else, I would have thought they were kidding. Yeah, ok, so the Serb opened up shop in an old gas station, what’s next? Can I get a deal on some radials or something? Picture an old gas station with the Amoco sign ripped of the facade and replaced with “Dentist”.  No fresh paint, no tinted windows, weeds growing all over, like a scene from Omega Man, and the canopy for the pumps is still there, à la 1958.

Once inside, we’re greeted by an old woman who looks like she died three years ago. Bobby looks around for a sign-in sheet or something, and the old woman says “You pay first, yes?” Of course, Bobby being Bobby, says no way, and thus begins a five minute diatribe in Northside and Serbian. I’m thinking he’s wasting his time, ‘cause she died three years ago and ain’t got nothing but time to burn. So, the next thing we know the “Dentist” walks in and he looks like a fat Freddy Mercury.  I would not want to bump into this big queer in the shower, that’s for sure. Anyway, he pacifies the old broad and starts telling Bobby that it’s customary back home to pre-pay. Whatever. Bobby’s not buying it and reminds Freddy that this ain’t “Kosomo”.  Yada, yada, yada. Bobby ends up in the chair and decides on using gas. Which I thought was a bad idea, considering there’s no telling exactly what type of gas was in the canister. So, I  decided to skip lunch and make sure my cousin wasn’t violated like a trumpet player at bandcamp.

To make a long story short, Bobby got all four teeth pulled for $125/cash. I guess he could have gotten a better deal, but he’d probably have to travel to Columbia.

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