The Eskimo Joke

I have worked with a lot of eye surgeons over the years, and they are splendid chaps who do an awesome lot of good. The eye is the window of the soul, it is said, and these fellows are surely the window-cleaners, as it were. [OK, let’s get the silly video out of the way then-Ed:]

For the anaesthetist, eye surgery can be a bit of a bore. All the surgeon wants is a patient who isn’t running around the theatre during the minimally stressful procedure, and providing just that is child’s play, to be honest. Also, operative blood loss is less than I suffer when shaving my own chin of a morning.

To add insult to injury, they often require the theatre lights turned off so that they can better see what they’re working on under the operating microscope. If I get bored in a darkened room, I quickly start snoring. I’m a bit of a narcoleptic like that. Fortunately, my snores are so loud that I immediately wake myself up in a panic. I am sure I am very amusing to observe when I do this, like a dog is when awoken by its own farts.

Anyway, one afternoon during an eye surgery list, I decided to lighten the tedium by telling a silly little joke I had recently read or heard somewhere:

Q. Did you hear about the Eskimo who took his girlfriend to bed one night?

A. When they woke up, she was six months pregnant!

Now I know that this joke will never win the Nobel Prize for humour, but the surgeon and his assistant that afternoon were both so amused by it that they couldn’t continue to operate on the patient’s eye because they were convulsing with laughter. Their laughter infected everybody else in the room in a feedback kind of way (except the patient of course). It took a full ten minutes before order was painfully restored by the forced stifling of mirth. Ophthalmologists require the tremor-less dexterity of a master watchmaker to earn their crust, you see. I can’t explain why they found it so funny. Perhaps they didn’t get out much.

That operating list overran by ten minutes, but we never recorded exactly why. The incident, thankfully, became submerged in the sands of time. Nowadays, the overrun would be picked up by surveillance software and a bean counter might authorise an investigation perhaps, with formal interviews under caution…..

I exaggerate perhaps, but one thing is certain: NHS workplace morale is at an all time low right now because we the workers are more tasked with measuring mere process than in improving outcomes. The eventual collapse of the NHS will be perfectly recorded upon all available auditing media. Meanwhile the sick will just have to wait, or die.


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