I remember my French apartment, next to the market-place in Amiens, a small town a hundred miles north of Paris. A woman and her husband ran one of the larger produce booths, just a few steps from my window. She was one of those diminutive nut-brown Frenchwomen — not as pale as most of us were in the frozen north. She told me that near the Mediterranean, where she came from, I would be called “white as an aspirin tablet.” And when I visited there briefly, that is exactly what they called me. Read more on The Pleasure Of The Table…
When you work with poor people, there will be at least one who earns his or her daily bread in the world’s oldest profession. Some of them may even admit it.
I have done lots of work in various county mental health clinics in various states and I developed a couple of hard and fast rules for when I work with economically disadvantage people.
I always try to “connect” with them. I have always loved the quote “I am human, so nothing that is human is foreign to me” by Publius Terentius Afer, better known as Terence. He was the Neil Simon of the ancient Roman empire, an author of comedies.
I have always imagined the modern embodiment of this quote to be the state of being stuck with a perfect stranger in an elevator. I want to believe that if I am not only a good psychiatrist but a good human being, I can generate a conversation with anybody. And the people who enter my office in some of these placements are poor folks whose experience of life on the planet is very, very far from my own.