The Canterbury Tales Project
The Doctor was a most materialistic man
Who was selfish and arrogant since his life began
He spent his days in lavish settings
Concerned not with giving but with getting
His parents sent him to Harvard to get his degree
The field of science his study would be
When he left that prestigious college
He returned to California to use his knowledge
Attending to the wealthy and the famed
Word soon spread of his name
He was invited to parties, dinners, and meetings
But never to the common man did he extend a greeting
Patients were required to call months ahead
Immediate and entire payment was a requirement unsaid
He would stand there in that typical white garment
Grey eyes cynical, the only sign of the creature lying dormant
While he tolerates those that serve his interests
They mean no more to him than the cat that rids his house of pests
An uncaring yes or no is a reasonable answer
When someone asks if they have cancer
He holds no sympathy with those in pain
Each passing face is the same
Strange to think he is a servant to humanity
In his obnoxious pride and vanity
The Tale of the Doctor and the Taxi Driver
The Doctor’s office is an unpleasant place. The waiting room is a sea of cold air with islands of hard standard wooden chairs. There are three small tables, each equipped with hand sanitizer and a plain Kleenex box. There are no magazines, and the T.V plays only two stations, CNN and some unnamed medical channel. Women wear solid light blue nursing uniforms, hair in buns. Their pale faces are emotionless, and they are silent except when issuing commands to the patients. The Doctor believes in being practical and efficient. He paces the long hallways briskly, spending as little of his precious time as necessary on each patient. The Doctor takes an hour for lunch and only works eight hours a day (a significantly shorter amount of time than most doctors) and only Tuesday to Friday.
It was on one Friday afternoon that a shiny little yellow taxi pulled up to the front of the Doctor’s office. The door opened and a little old man slowly got out. His white-capped head peeked over the door, then his pained brown eyes. At last, he managed to stand up completely. The Taxi Driver shut the door and locked the car. His walk was odd and stiff, almost like a person forced to walk over splintered wood. Reaching the nurse’s window, he softly asked, “I would like an appointment with the Doctor.” She lifted her gaze and said, “Our next appointment is in five months.” She looked at his clothes, noting how casual and stained they were. “I have rheumatoid arthritis. I need for the Doctor to call in some medicine for me. That’s all. He need not attend me for more than five minutes, “ he stated. The nurse glanced at him again to say, “Have you taken medicine for arthritis before?” He shook his head, “I have only come now because the pain is at a degree which hinders me from working.” She sighed and began to write on a sheet of paper, “When was your last doctor’s visit?” The reply was, “Not for twenty two years.” Again, she looked at him, and hurriedly jotted something down. “The Doctor will see you in ten minutes. He has a small window in between his current patient and the next. In the meantime…fill out this information as accurately and as quickly as possible. I’ll call you when it’s time.” The Taxi Driver took the pencil and paper and did as she asked, his handwriting sloppy from the clumsiness of his hands.
Ten minutes later, the Taxi Driver was hurried in and led to a small room. The nurse closed the door and left him there. The old man stood, not afraid of the pain sitting down, but of the struggle to stand up again. It was only a thirty-second wait. Immediately, the Doctor swung the door open without a knock. Beneath his crown of black hair was a high forehead that looked over frigid grey eyes. He was tall and slender, seeming to loom in the doorway. With onyx slacks, shoes, tie, and medical bag, he was the darkest thing in the room, contrasting with the barren ivory walls and tiled floor. The only thing about him that matched was the traditional white coat he wore. At first, his face appeared to be the perfect mask of passiveness, but his eyes betrayed him. Any person could see he was enraged at this unexpected inconvenience. He disdainfully noted the difference in dress between the Taxi Driver and himself. The Doctor’s patients were normally the fine and famous, all wealthy members of society. “So, I was told that you needed medicine for your arthritis.” He stepped forward and examined the Taxi Driver, not caring to be gentle. “Rate the pain. One to ten, “ the Doctor commanded. “Nine,” the old man replied. The Doctor washed his hands, not once, but twice, then applied sanitizer. “Taxis are the most disgusting vehicles,” he said grimacing. The Taxi Driver made no comment on that statement, but instead asked, “How much is the medicine?” The Doctor scoffed, “More than you can afford.” “How much?” came the reply. “Roughly ten thousand dollars a year.” The old man trembled while the Doctor’s back was turned, staring at his hands and said, “I can pay you with my credit card.” The Doctor laughed derisibly, “Normally that would be acceptable for me, but not in this case. You probably have bad credit considering your profession and state of being. If you cannot pay in cash, leave.” The Taxi Driver put his hand on the Doctor’s arm, “Please be kind and consider what it would be like in my position.” The Doctor’s eyes sharpened, and he moved away immediately while saying, “I was not, nor will I ever be in your position, in imagination or otherwise. I will not degrade myself.” With that, they parted ways.
The next week went by the same for both parties. Then, on the following Saturday night, the Doctor went out to a bar and became drunk. In his stupor, he rambled the street. Three men, seeing that the Doctor was disadvantaged in his drunken state and judging him prosperous by his fine clothes, robbed and beat him. The Taxi Driver was patrolling the streets when he saw the Doctor, lying in a pool of his own blood. Hurriedly, despite the needlelike pain all over his body, he loaded the Doctor into the back of his cab and rushed him to the hospital. The Doctor had two ribs broken, a black eye, and a hundred bruises, but he would survive. While the Doctor recuperated in his lavish home, none of his notable “friends” came to see him. In fact, only one person called. The Taxi Driver. The Doctor could not help but ask, “Why did you help me? Was it because you want me to be in your debt, in order to receive your medicine? If our roles had been reversed, I would have left you there on the street. You would have been right to do that after how I treated you.” There was a pause. After which, the Taxi Driver said, “You think that I should have returned your cruelty, as that is only just? An eye for an eye? A tooth for a tooth? A hand for a hand? No. An act of selflessness for an eye. An act of generosity for a tooth. An act of kindness for a hand. You should not do unto others what they have done unto you, rather you should do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
The Moral: No matter how people treat you, you should always rise above that and be selfless, generous, and kind. Quite simply, be the better person.
I chose the Doctor because he is one of the most prominent people in society. While there are great doctors out there (I’m lucky to have such wonderful doctors), they can also be cast in a bad light. Due to the cost of medical school, only middle class or upper class members of society tend to become doctors. Once they graduate and pay off their loans, they become even wealthier. The average doctor makes roughly between one hundred and fifty thousand to two hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year. The average family in the U.S. makes around fifty thousand dollars. This means a single doctor can earn three to five times as much as the average family. There is sometimes resentment from lower classes towards those who are wealthy. One can picture doctors taking long vacations, relaxing in luxury, with the finest clothes, cars, and house imaginable. While in the meantime, working class people are working hard just to pay off the rent.
Because of their monetary status and education, the average person may consider doctors to be arrogant, as if they are all knowing and are better than everyone else. People also encounter doctors that are so busy that they are very blunt, brisk, and without sympathy. This may alienate people who prefer their doctors to care about them and take longer listening to them and explaining what to do. Some doctors are like this and some are not, but society for the most part has reservations about them.
Doctors are also associated with their environment. Their offices are for the most part dislikable. The rooms are cold, and it smells awful. There is a long wait with nothing to do, and one often leaves the place in pain from shots, having blood drawn, or having been embarrassed during examination. Therefore, I envisioned the Doctor as everything society thinks he is: cold, conceited, and callous.
I began my tale talking about what a patient would see going into his office. The appearance of the room, and its native inhabitants: the nurses. Then, I brought in the patient, known as the Taxi Driver. Since poor people and doctors are a vivid contrast in almost everything, I thought it would be best to use a person that I knew did not have a lot of money. Therefore, the Taxi Driver was created. Since society views doctors as arrogant, I caused the Doctor to disgrace the Taxi Driver by way of implying his hygiene was inadequate. As doctors lack sympathy, I made the doctor reject the Taxi Driver’s form of payment despite his painful disease of rheumatoid arthritis.
The moral of the story is revealed towards the end of the tale. I thought that the Taxi Driver, or the common person, could teach the Doctor, or doctors, a lesson about humility and kindness which are the two things society thinks most doctors lack. Even though the Doctor treats the Taxi Driver with hatred and derision, the Taxi Driver saves the Doctor’s life. When the doctor is recovering in his fine home, the Taxi Driver is the only one to call and check on his welfare. The Doctor is confused by this and questions the Taxi Driver about his motives. The Taxi Driver replies that a person should not commit wrong because he has been wronged, rather a person should do good deeds no matter how they have been treated by another. Society always talks of making the world a better place. Environmental groups, anti-bullying clubs, and charities all stress the same message. The Taxi Driver had the courage to do what was right, despite having been abused by the Doctor. This story is an excellent example of both the darkness in society (the Doctor) and society’s values (kindness in the face of adversity).