Dirty Jobs – The Lost Episode: Dental Hygienist

I went to the dentist today with my girls.  I think a dental hygienist has a tough job – a dirty job.  Let me know what you think.

Dirty Jobs – The Lost Episode: Dental Hygienist.


Dirty Jobs – The Lost Episode: Dental Hygienist

How many of you have ever watched the TV show Dirty Jobs?  For those of you that may not have watched the show, the format of the show involved the host, Mike Rowe, working alongside a small team of workers performing a job that many of us would consider “nasty” work.  The show traveled to various locations across the US and aired on the Discovery Channel until the end of last year.


I watched the show on a number of occasions and often times, I found myself thoroughly disgusted by the conditions that Mike worked in.  From inseminating cows to cleaning out septic tanks, Mike would show the viewer what it takes to keep America moving.  The show stressed the importance of these professions and how they make our lives easier everyday.

Now to the point of this blog.

Today, I had the pleasure of taking my three wonderful daughters and myself to the dentist for our 6 month cleaning and exam.  Carrie was supposed to go with us, but she had “meetings” at school today.  So it was me and my three girls.

Getting one’s teeth cleaned is something that someone with good dental insurance should have done on a routine basis.  Surprisingly, I have decent dental insurance and very rarely have to pay out of pocket so I don’t mind going to have my teeth cleaned.

As most of you know, a trip to the dentist doesn’t involve a great deal of facetime with the dentist.  95% percent of the time is spent with the dental hygienist.  The hygienist, who is usually a woman, has the pleasure of doing all of the dirty work.

The normal routine for a hygienist when working on a patient is to take x-rays, spend some time scraping plaque and tartar from the teeth, and then polishing them.  For people that go to the dentist every 6 months to a year, that’s how it goes.

However, I’m pretty sure they see some nasty stuff – even before the dentist walks in the room.  Stinky breath, abcessed teeth, gum disease, rotten teeth to name a few.  A dental hygienist has to have a strong stomach and a kind heart at times.  They have to stay professional even when faced with the worst possible conditions.

I really think Mike Rowe missed a prime opportunity here.  I can see it now.  Mike in scrubs talking with Mr. Johnson about the importance of flossing and brushing as he scrapes the protective layer of plaque off of his teeth with the little scraping device.  The dental hygienist stands beside him laughing as Mike asks how she likes her job.  And this is an easy patient.

Mike’s next patient has chronic halitosis and appears to have early onset gingivitis.  He gags when the patient opens his mouth.  The smell is overwhelming.  I can see Mike looking at the hygienist and asking her, “How the hell do you do this everyday?”

The next patient is a screaming 5 year old child. I can see Mike as he looks at the hygienist and says, “Are all of your patients this happy to see you?” – as they strap the kid down in the chair as the mother sits in the room texting on her iPhone.

Finally, Mike gets to assist the dentist with an extraction.  I can see Mike administering the nitrous oxide to the patient and then to himself.  Then he asks the dentist when he gets his shot with the pliers.  He’s obviously pretty high at this point.  Of course, the dentist tells Mike he can’t let him do that.  To which Mike replies that he needs to get a real feel for the job and snatches the extraction tools from the dentist and promptly pulls the patient’s top front teeth.

That would have been a great episode.

So the next time you go to the dentist, be sure you thank your hygienist for a job well done.

They have a tough and sometimes dirty job to do.


Meltdown! 8 Year Old Style!

As many of you that know me and follow my blog know, I am the father of the three wonderful daughters.  My oldest is 10.  My youngest is 4.  My youngest acts more mature than the 10 year old at times, but she is really only 4.

My middle daughter, Ansley, is 8.  Ansley is a very pretty girl.  When she was a baby, her face resembled that of a porcelain doll.  She has beautiful blue eyes and brown hair and is quite tall for her age.  Ansley is different than her sisters.  Her sisters like to stay on the move.  They enjoy activities and seem to always need to be entertained.  Ansley enjoys laying around in her pajamas, watching TV, and eating junk food.  Her idea of a great Saturday is never getting dressed and never leaving the house.  She’s a kid that needs to unwind.  Ansley needs what I call “Ansley time.’  She is a classic introvert in my opinion, and that’s OK.  Her mother and I are introverts, and we’ve turned out just fine.

There are days when Ansley is a delight to be around.  She’s inquisitive and cheerful.  She loves to talk about things that happen in school, in church, and just life in general.  She asks questions about God, science, and other things that might interest her at that moment.  However, there are some days where a switch flips, and she turns into what I call “Evil Ansley.”  I referenced “Evil Ansley” in a prior post when her mother was away at a conference.  We had dinner together that night.  That was the night she picked fights with her sisters and dropped her ice cream on the floor.  It was not a night to remember – especially with Mommy not around.

Well “Evil Ansley” paid a return visit to the Vereen house this fine Thursday evening.  Carrie and the girls got home a little late this evening.  They decided to grab some dinner and go watch a friend’s baseball game at the neighborhood field.  When they got home there were chores to do, and the girls needed to get their lunches ready for school tomorrow.  Ansley came out to help me water the yard.  All seemed to be going well.  The girls took showers and started to get ready for bed.

Every night, we have to remind the girls that they need to do two things.  Brush their teeth, and brush their hair.  It never fails that they forget to do one or the other.  It’s baffling to me.  Surely, I never did anything like that, right?  So if someone can tell me why this happens, I’m all ears.

In our house, Carrie usually handles the chore of getting them ready for bed.  I believe the girls need some privacy.  So, I usually go upstairs after their dressed and ready for bed to kiss them goodnight and talk a little bit.  When I reached Ansley’s room tonight, she was sitting on her bed playing her Nintendo DS.  The conversation was polite but short.  I could tell she was tired.

When I looked at her though, I noticed that she hadn’t brushed her hair.  It was what southern women would call a “hot mess.”  I asked her to put down the game to brush her hair.  She gave me “the look,” slammed the Nintendo DS down on her bed, and grabbed her hairbrush off the top of her dresser.  She took a few cursory swipes at her hair and returned to her game.  At this point, her hair was even more of a “hot mess” than when she started, so I grabbed the hairbrush and tried to help her get things straightened out.  This turned out to be a huge mistake!

This really set her off.

She looked me and said, “I have already brushed my hair!”

I replied. “It doesn’t look like it to me!”

The meltdown had started.

I continued to brush her hair.  There were only about 900 more tangles to get out.  Ansley wanted me to stop so she flopped back on her bed.  The hairbrush was still in her hair.  The meltdown was now in full effect.

As a father, I believe a young lady needs to take care of herself from a grooming standpoint, and properly brushing one’s hair is one of things that needs to happen on a nightly basis.  That along with a nightly bath or shower and brushing teeth are just standard protocol.  These things just need to happen.  Ansley and her older sister frequently disagree with this idea, and Ansley was definitely disagreeing tonight.

I finally finished brushing her hair, and I told her it’s time for bed.  Apparently she’s not ready for bed so she objects.  The angry tears were in her eyes.  I just needed to kiss her goodnight and walk away, but I can’t.  I tried to explain to her that good hygiene is important.  That if she doesn’t brush her teeth, she’ll end up with cavities, and that if she won’t brush her hair, we’ll just get it cut really short.  This really set her off.  I’m definitely not going to win this battle.  I really should walk away, but I still can’t.  There was a lesson to be learned here.  Surely a highly ticked off 8 year old little girl will listen to reason at this point.

Finally, Carrie has joined in on the conversation.  She has heard most of the discussion and decides it’s best for Ansley to go to sleep.  They can continue their story another night.  Ansley disagrees.  The meltdown was finally complete!  The tears were flowing.

Ansley said a few things I didn’t understand.

I give her a hug and a kiss and tell her tomorrow will be a better day!

I’ve come to the conclusion that my daughter is a full-fledged introvert.  As most of us know, introverts expend a great deal of energy when they are in social situations.  They need time to recharge their batteries.  They need to be alone for a little while.  Most introverts enjoy diversions that allow them to gather their thoughts and prepare for the next activity.  Ansley fits the mold.  She expends a great deal of energy all day at school interacting with teachers and friends.  She goes to an afterschool program where they do their homework and then have scheduled activities.  Some days she heads straight to soccer practice right after that.  By the time she gets home, she needs some quiet time, but there is more to do before she heads to bed.

For an introvert, this can be exhausting, and that is what I experienced tonight with Ansley.  She was done!  She needed some Ansley time, and I can respect that!  Her mother and I are the same way!

I will do better next time and try to avoid the meltdown!

Wish me luck!


Shady Business – The Art of Buying a Car

How many of you really like buying a new car?  How many of you have ever bought one without test driving it first?  Read about my latest experience purchasing a new “Mommobile” for my wife.

Shady Business – The Art of Buying a Car.

Shady Business – The Art of Buying a Car

Honda Odyssey

Congratulations!  You’re the new owner of a 2013 Honda Odyssey EX-L!

The deal was done!  After about an hour and a half of haggling and gamesmanship, I had just finished purchasing my wonderful wife a new “Mommobile.”  No more tap-dancing with the saleswoman!  No more trips by the saleswoman to the sales manager, the general manager, or the finance manager.  I had successfully navigated all of the obstacles associated with buying a car.  I was firm, not ugly.  In the end, I got almost everything I wanted – splash guards, a heavy duty mat for the trunk, but not the navigation system.  I was tired.

Buying a new vehicle is a bittersweet experience for me.  I love owning a new car.  I love the smell, the new gadgets, and the fact it is clean inside and out.  It’s free of crushed Goldfish and Cheerios.  There are no mud stains on the carpet.  There are no used tissues tucked between and under the seats.  It’s a great feeling.

However, I hate going through the process of buying a new car.  At this point in my life, I think I would rather get a root canal, then spend my time buying a car.  Car buyers very rarely play from a position of power – especially when you’re the one buying the most popular minivan in the United States.  It’s like starting a hand of Texas Hold’em with a 2 and a 7 off-suit, and you know your opposition has to have a better hand.  In other words, you had better have a lot of intestinal fortitude, and you need to be pretty good at the art of bluffing.

I started the process by reaching out to a number of dealerships through the various websites.  I thought it would be good to look at some other vehicles before considering the possibility of purchasing another Honda Odyssey.  I looked at the Toyota Sienna, the GMC Acadia, and the Chevrolet Traverse.  I also contacted two of the local Honda dealerships.  The Toyota and GMC folks responded that night.  The two Honda dealerships followed up the next day.  All offered fairly decent discounts based on their listed prices.  All were between 13-16% of the MSRP.  A good start I thought.

The Honda dealers were pretty close – about $300 apart.  The Toyota was the most expensive and offered fewer options.  After looking a little closer at the GMC and Chevy, I decided they were too small.  So there I was, back at the Honda Odyssey.  Which dealership did I want to deal with?  I had purchased vehicles at both dealerships, but the experience with the one that was most convenient left a bad taste in my mouth, so I decided to head back to the dealership closest to where I work.  I bought our second Odyssey there during the unforgettable “Cash for Clunkers” program of 2009.  At that time, I actually traded a car of value that didn’t need to be towed or pushed in to the dealership, so I got a pretty sweet deal.  I was hoping for the same again.

GMC logo      Honda logo      Toyota

Needless to say Round 2 did not go as smoothly as Round 1.  I was OK with the price of the car.  The quoted price was about $1700 under their invoice price.  I had done some homework prior to the visit so I knew the fight would come when it was time to negotiate the trade.  But I was ready.  Before going, I knew what they would offer and how much I could probably squeeze out of them.  I had about a $2000 window to work with because the resale price of the van was not quite as high as I thought it would be.

Prior to going to the dealership, I made an attempt to clean out the car.  I emptied the contents of the vehicle into a trash bag and a basket.  It’s amazing how much stuff a family can accumulate in a vehicle over time – candy wrappers, used tissues, crayons, coloring books, toys, empty drink bottles, and my favorite – lollipop sticks!  I knew that getting rid of the clutter and getting a couple of stains out of the carpet would help my cause.

The saleswoman came back with her first offer for my car which was about $500 above what I expected for the initial offer.  I countered with $500 less than resale value.  She smirked.  I smiled.  She left to go talk with Manager #1.  The game was on.

When I buy a new car, I do something that really throws a salesperson off.  I never test drive a car.  The test drive is usually the time when they buyer gets hooked.  It’s when the process of buying a car becomes emotional for the buyer.  It gives the salesperson the advantage.  I never do it, and I recommend all car buyers try the tactic – especially if you’re buying the same vehicle again.

The saleswoman came back with her second offer.  They added another $500 to their offer.  I subtracted $250 from mine.  She left again to talk with Manager #2.  This trip took a little longer.  She returns with the handy printout that shows the “Poor”, “Fair”, and “Good” value for the vehicle.  The “Good” value for my car is what I want.  At this point, I turn the negotiations around.  The saleswoman slipped-up earlier in the process when she went to inspect my vehicle prior to starting the haggling session.  She came back and said “You’re van is in great shape.  I can sell this in no time.”  I pointed to the “Good” value on the sheet, and told her if she wanted to make a deal today, she had to get that number for me.  If she couldn’t, I was leaving.  She leaves to talk to Manager #3 or maybe Manager #1 and Manager #2.  I wait.

I learned the art of car-buying from my father.  We’ve had some good times buying vehicles.  I’ve watched my dad use a number of tactics through the years.  We’ve walked out on deals over a $100.  I’ve watched my dad rip up a check and write another one for less than his original offer when the first offer got rejected.  We’ve had salesman following us as we drive out of the parking lot because they’ve suddenly had a change of heart and want to do the deal.  We’ve had salesman calling us at home begging us to please come back in and finish the deal.  The best line I’ve ever heard my dad use during a negotiation happened  in Atlanta when he was helping my brother purchase a Toyota Camry.  According to my brother, the situation was pretty intense, and then my dad played the ultimate hand.  He looked at the salesman and asked him, “Would you give your mother this deal?”  What’s a salesman supposed to do at that point?  Of course, he dropped the price.

Finally, the saleswoman returns.  She’s worked hard, and they’re going to give me the “Good” value for the van since I’m a loyal customer.  The game is over, and I’m tired.  She takes the paperwork to the finance office.  We chat a little bit.  She’s originally from New Jersey.  My family lived outside of Philadelphia for a couple of years.  Her daughter has a degree in Sociology and works for DSS in Gaffney.  I have degrees in Sociology and Chemistry.  Her expression changes.  She now knows that I understand the psychology around car buying and the importance of taking emotion out of the process.  I tell her the story about my dad and the Toyota dealer in Atlanta.  She looks perplexed.  She laughs a little.

The phone rings.  The finance guy is ready.  I leave to sign the papers.  I’ll pick-up the new van tomorrow!  They need to install my splash guards and wash the protective layer of pollen off the car.

Overall, I did pretty well.  18% discount on the price of the vehicle.  I got more for the trade than what I expected.  And 0.9% financing.  Not a bad deal if you ask me.  I got what I wanted.  I saved some money.  They made a little money.  Probably not as much as they wanted, but they can try to make more money on the next deal.  They only have around 1300 more cars to sell before they reach their sales goal for the year.

I wish them the best of luck!  I’m glad I don’t sell cars for a living!