I hope your day is going better than mine. Perhaps it began with the thought in bed that I could sleep in a little. After all it’s Friday and this is a day set aside, usually, to catch up on work and be a little creative. As is often the case, a little deviation from a more “mature” plan of rising early and getting to work left me waking out of a sort of crummy dream. This is a dream I didn’t need to have and really didn’t want to have (although I for one can never pick my dreams).

I’m sure you’ve had one of these. It’s the I-feel-weird dream. Somehow I was transported back to a time in my life where I am at some sort of twisted summer camp. Someone has put me here against my will (a typical feeling about summer camps I had as a kid). It’s morning and I need to take a shower. Fortunately there are a lot of showers available. Unfortunately there are no shower curtains and it’s outside. Call me a prude, but I like my privacy when taking a shower.

So with this odd dream creeping me out I rise to take a real shower and get ready for driving to work. As is usual I walk outside to get into my car. This is when I notice the right rear passenger window is missing. Some of its shattered remains are on my back seat and the rest lies on the driveway outside in a million little safety-glass pieces. At first, gullible me, I thought that perhaps the glass was defective and shattered because of the extensive heat we have been having here in South Texas. But soon I remembered that I once had a laptop computer in a case sitting on the back seat. I know. Not bright. I should have taken it inside. I was lazy. I’m still thinking I’m living in the 50’s.

I hate it when a day derails so early. For the rest of the morning I am on the phone with the insurance company and dealing with auto repair people and rental car people. Some were nice and some were sort-of not really there. To them I was just a part of their complicated day of calls and reports.

I know this will sound crazy but I really do believe that once in a while it is good to be blind-sided by life — to feel helpless in the midst of events that start to unravel without much intentionality on our part. It reminds us just how frustrating life sometimes is for those we are trained to help as dentists.

I did a few stupid things that set me up to be ripped off this morning, but the real culprit is somewhere else trying to unload a computer. Because I really have no direct control on whether or not the individual will meet justice or I will get this computer back, my real task today is to purposefully, to the best of my ability, interact with all the people I will see in a way that does not allow my personal wounds to harm them. Patients walk into dental offices every day with bad dreams and worse realities resulting in oral conditions they live with, but are not proud of. Can we help them, even when we are in the middle of our own problems? Do we have employees who understand patients and treat them with kindness — not just because it’s good business, and not because they have had “sensitivity” training, but because they have been there themselves and truly care about the hurts and fears of others?