I just got back from the big ADA show in Orlando (aka the American Dental Association’s Annual Session). I only got to spend two full days there as I had to return for the wedding of my niece, Erica, who was married on 10-10-10 because she met her fiancé on 5-5-05, a nice symmetry and a nice wedding day.
Orlando just keeps growing and growing. Cab fares are ridiculous. I know from past adventures to seek out a Haitian cab driver to take me from the airport to my hotel: It’s fun to practice my Creole, and usually I get a family discount of at least ten bucks.
This sometimes backfires, as when I mistook my driver this time for a Haitian. He was a West African Muslim, but we still hit it off just fine.
On my next venture out, I had to take a cab to my American Association of Dental Editors meeting. This time my driver was a newly arrived Cuban. Thanks to the miracle of GPS, we made it to the Rosen Centre in the nick of time.
The driver who took me back to the airport was a Navy Veteran from North Carolina. He had an uncle in St. Cloud he used to visit, and we became so engrossed in conversation that he missed the exit ... So I got another discount.
The hotels just keep getting bigger and bigger. When I asked the lady at the front desk of the Rosen Centre where our meeting room was, she pointed into the distance looking for all the world like Sacajawea guiding Lewis and Clark, and replied, “Follow this hallway for a half mile and take a left.” She was not kidding! The security staff patrols the hotel on “Segways”.
MDA Communications Director Carol Embertson attended the AADE meeting with me. As I looked around the room at all the old familiar faces, I couldn’t help but remark to Carol that the members were starting to look like the ensemble cast of a Christopher Guest movie, like the actors from “This is Spinal Tap”, “Waiting for Guffman”, “Best in Show”, or “A Mighty Wind”. This year’s president is a dead ringer for Christopher Lloyd, “Doc Brown” from “Back to the Future”.
Editors of all stripes tend to take themselves much too seriously. Myself included.
The day’s programs were well done and informative, with the possible exception of one speaker. The topic was ethics, but the speaker was so intent on breaking the attendees into small touchy-feely groups and reporting back to him that no one understood the assignment. When no one could report on the great insights garnered from their deliberations, he took it to mean that we perhaps hadn’t had enough time, or more likely we were just a bunch of Philistines.
One interesting premise that this speaker put forth was that all who do short-term missionary work in third world countries were acting unethically because if they spent their time under a tree extracting teeth for a week, the people would not have care when they left. Or if they provided restorative care at a level the local dentists could not accomplish, they were unfairly raising the expectations of the people. I have no idea if this person has ever spent time in a third world country, but I am reminded of the parable where a violent storm cast thousands of starfish up on the shore where they would surely die unless they could return to the sea. The morning found a little girl tossing them one by one back into the water. A vacationing dentist, a laser specialist from New York, approached her and said, “Why are you wasting your time? You can’t save them all; what difference will it make?” The little girl picked up another starfish, threw it as far as she could into the water, and replied, “Well, it makes a difference to this one!”
Mother Teresa used to secretly come to Minnesota and spend time with a family she knew in Golden Valley. Let us remember her words:
You don’t have to come to India to help.
You can do more for the world by staying In Minnesota and:
Be thoughtful and generous
And have time for one another.
I was happy to be in Orlando along with Carol. Northwest Dentistry continues to be the best publication in its class. The awards given it testify to its worth. Thank you, dear readers, for all your support.
*Dr. Stein is Executive Editor of Northwest Dentistry. He is a general dentist in private practice in Aitkin, Minnesota, AitkinDent@AOL.com