It seems to me that bartenders and beauticians are the most underrated health care agents that we have in our society. In fact we would be in serious trouble without them. You don't even need an appointment to visit a bar and usually the bartender is a nice person and will talk to you. He gives you pleasant beverages as you tell him or her about your problems. After you develop a regular relationship, your friendly bartender will greet you by name, not rush to get you out of the bar, and will listen to the most troubling of human experiences, without judgment. You feel good about talking to your personal bartender. He will be delighted to see you anytime you drop in.
Beauticians usually require appointments, but they usually don't keep you waiting. They will cut, shampoo and style your hair and talk to you during this service. Again, you can tell your beautician almost anything and the response will not be judgmental. You can confide your most delicate secrets, and most likely these will remain confidential. True, there is the risk of gossip, but remember, your friendly doctor is not immune to gossip either, even though this is not ethical.
Bartenders and beauticians do not belong to HMOs. You do not need prior approval to use their services. They almost always make you feel better after seeing them. They are not expensive, and so you are not always fighting your insurance company to get to see your favorite bartender or beautician. You don't have to tell your spouse what you discussed with your bartender or beautician!
If all the bars, beauty and barber shops become closed for more than a day or two, there would not be enough mental institutions to handle all the mayhem and frustrations that permeate our society. So hats off to our two unsung heroes of medicine, the bartender and the beautician.
I will be in touch next month. Cheers!
Thomas L. Petty, M.D.
Professor of Medicine, UCHSC
Co-Chairman, National Lung Health Education Program