“The Sky is Falling”

by Randy Lang, DDS, D. Ortho

We are now into the 6th month of a declining stock market and most of us are nervously watching the value of our RRSP’s and mutual funds sink into negative territory. To make matters worse, many well- known market pundits have declared that this is just the beginning of a long overdue major market correction that could continue for a number of years. Consequently, many of my dental colleagues, who have already suffered substantial market losses, have been forced to change their retirement slogan from “Freedom 55” or “Freedom 60” to a more realistic “Freedom Death”.

The current Bear Market has inspired me to revise the definitions of some of the “scientific terms” that financial advisors have been using on us and I will share with you a few that I now find quite useful:

* BULL MARKET — A random upward market movement causing a dentist to mistake himself for a financial genius.

* BEAR MARKET — A 6- to 18-month period when the kids get no allowance, the wife gets no jewellery, and the dentist gets no sex.

* MARKET CORRECTION — The day after you buy stocks.

* PROFIT — Religious guy who talks to God.

* MOMENTUM INVESTING — The fine art of buying high and selling low.

* VALUE INVESTING — The art of buying low and selling even lower.

* P/E RATIO — The percentage of investors wetting their pants as the market keeps crashing.

* BROKER — What your broker has made you.

* STANDARD & POOR — Your life in a nutshell now.

* STOCK SPLIT — When your ex-wife and her: lawyer split your assets equally between themselves.

At the same time that our retirement savings are shrinking, day-to-day challenges in our offices unfortunately continue to grow. I will list but a few that I have documented over the years:

* Any crown or inlay, when dropped, will roll into the least accessible corner of the dental operatory and will not be found until the cement has hardened.

* Any sharp scaler or probe, when dropped, will always stab you in the leg on the way down.

* A sure way for you to get behind schedule is for your receptionist to inform you that you are ahead.

* Any written instructions to your dental lab that could be misunderstood, will be misunderstood.

* A mixing pad, if dropped while you’re mixing cement, will always land cement side down. (This law was once tested in the Dental Clinic at the University of Toronto. Fifty students mixed cement on a mixing pad and then tossed them up in the air. Forty-nine of the mixing pads landed cement side down on the floor. The fiftieth stuck to the ceiling.)

* Office overhead rises to meet income. It then passes it.

* Any office move or renovation will cost twice as much and take three times as long as originally estimated.

* An unexpectedly easy to handle sequence of dental procedures will immediately be followed by an equally long sequence of trouble.

* The chances of a new restoration fracturing when the patient bites varies directly with the amount of time you spend carefully carving it.

* Rules for office staff: 1) The dentist is always right. 2) When the dentist is wrong, refer to rule 1.

* Certain instruments or items that are crucial to a special dental procedure will show up with uncommon regularity until the day when that special procedure is planned. At this point the instruments or items in question will disappear from the face of the earth.

* The first 90% of a dental procedure takes 90% of the time and the last 10% takes the other 90%.

* All old files, charts, articles etc. that you have saved will never be needed until they are disposed of, at which time they will become essential and indispensable.

* A sure way to find a lost dental instrument is to buy a replacement.

* Office stapler rule: 1) All staplers are empty. 2) Any stapler that isn’t empty is broken. 3) The box of staples can only be found when one is really looking for a pair of scissors.

* Cleanliness is next to godliness, except in the lab or staffroom, where it is next to impossible.

* More dental emergencies happen in your practice during the two weeks you are on vacation than during the 50 weeks you are there.

* For digital photography, open the lens two stops to compensate for the lens cap.

* Middle age is when your classmates are so gray and wrinkled and bald that they don’t recognize you at the reunion.

* The most vocal opponents of water fluoridation are usually people wearing dentures.

* In dentistry, good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgement.

* All dental offices have a junk drawer. Anything wanted from the junk drawer will be found at the bottom. Once any item is removed from the junk drawer – no matter how large or small – the junk drawer will not close.

* The forecasting of dental manpower needs by dental schools and government has made astrology look respectable.

* In dentistry, there is no such thing as an absolute truth. That is absolutely true.

* A dental meeting lasts at least two hours, however short the agenda.

* Middle age is always halfway between your age and 100.

* If it can break, it will, but only after the warranty expires. If it jams, force it. If it breaks, it needs replacing anyway. Finally, when all else fails, read the instructions.

* Any dental equipment that you try to fix yourself will take much longer and cost much more than if you called the repair man. Also, if you take something apart to fix it enough times, you will eventually have enough pieces left over to build another one.

* Any dental equipment or business machine that can go wrong, will go wrong, except when the repair man arrives, at which point it will magically, mysteriously (and temporarily) repair itself.

* Dental supplies always go on sale immediately after you have purchased them at the regular price.

* The length of a dental meeting rises with the square of the number of dentists present.

* Your phone will not ring for the first 10 minutes of the day unless your receptionist is late, in which case it will ring continuously until she arrives.

* Good patients come and go. Bad ones accumulate.

* Patients’ cheques are always delayed in the mail; bills arrive on time or sooner.

* At any dental convention, the two lectures that you most wanted to hear will always be presented at the same time.

* Before you criticize another dentist, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you do criticize them, you’re a mile away and you have their shoes.

* Never hold a Dust-Buster and a cat at the same time.

* And finally, eat a live toad first thing in the morning before you go to the office and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.