So Friday our family and friends went to watch our fourth grader in his school play. The boy was very excited and had asked me about 1000 times if I was coming to see his play. He also made it clear that he expected me to get there early enough to sit towards the front where he could see all of us… and so the six of us arrived with plenty of time to be front and center. With ten minutes to spare we found the door to the room where the play was being put on. As we went for the door a woman sitting on a nearby bench announced with authority and absolute certainty that “the children are not in there yet, there is another class in there and we cannot go in”. When I didn’t look convinced she added, “I was here yesterday and I’m telling you that it’s not time for us to go in. You can’t go in now.” 

This put me on my heels and so I retreated to wait for the official opening of the room with about 20 others who’d been rebuffed by the lady on the bench. At 7 minutes until the appointed time for the play to start I decided that it didn’t make sense, based on my experience, that we parents wouldn’t be allowed to take our seats until the top of the hour when the play was supposed to start. So I made my way towards the door again only to hear, “you can’t go in yet.”

“Thanks so much” I said as I ignored my fear of being wrong and kept moving towards the door. 

“I was here yesterday. I’m telling you there is another class in there and we can’t go in yet” the woman repeated sternly and loudly for everyone in the courtyard to hear. 

“Thank you for telling me” I said while still proceeding… and working hard to suppress the fear of being publicly outed as an idiot who doesn’t have the sense to listen to reason. 

As I opened the door and stuck my head through the curtains hung to block out the door and windows for the play I heard the woman once more try to save me from myself. But once I looked inside I saw an empty stage and a half full seating section with almost all the good seats taken by parents who had arrived earlier or come through a door I didn’t know about. 

Long story short I called for Bridget and the rest of our group and we entered… with the nay saying, pseudo-authority figure hard on our heels even though she was saying it couldn’t be done just seconds before. 

Once seated the entire encounter made me laugh and reminded me of a great many times in the orthodontic space where I refused to listen to those who were certain they were right, followed my common sense, experience and instincts and found that things were not as I was told. AND then watched those who told me it couldn’t be done follow suit, proclaim the new way of doing things as the way it should be done or even claim to be the ones who had the idea in the first place. 

Of course it also reminded me of the times I didn’t listen and was TOTALLY WRONG! Though the latter doesn’t happen nearly as often as the former, we all tend to remember our failures perfectly while our successes fade with time. Also, I can assure you that one’s detractors remember failures! 

I write this in the hopes that more people in orthodontics will risk being wrong occasionally in order to question the things we have all been told and the things we have always done. Even if, nay, ESPECIALLY IF everyone you know agrees that to deviate from the way we have always done is crazy. 

Have a great weekend.  

2 thoughts on “Do What You’re Told!

  1. I always use the following quote when providing seminars…accredited to “my old friend” Mark Twain.

    “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble.
    It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so”.

    After 41 years of orthodontic practice I’m still humbled about things that just ain’t so.

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