"So what's wrong with it?"
Uncle Pundit, just back from a driving tour of Montana, and testy on the subject of the absent flu vaccine, had dummied up an ad for the Washington Post.
ATTENTION PHYSICIANS !!!
PATIENT AVAILABLE. MEDICARE, TWO CO-INSURERS. PROMPT
FOR APPOINTMENTS. COURTEOUS TO OFFICE STAFF AND NURSES.
YEARLY TAKE (YOUR INCOME) IN THE THOUSANDS.
CONSIDERATION; ONE FLU SHOT.
CONTACT; (PHONE NUMBER)
I tried to explain that no self-respecting doctor would answer such an advertisement. Doctors simply do not advertise.
"Of course not. But this is a patient advertising. Me. You want me to enter that stupid Montgomery County lottery?"
A Maryland county dangerously close to the District of Columbia has announced a drawing for 800 flu shots it unaccountably has on hand, and nearly all of its 13 million or so residents are expected to submit their names for the lottery.
No, Uncle, unless you are a bigger gambler than I thought. But what if some unscrupulous Doctor answers your ad, gives you a flu shot, and then you discover he is a charlatan, a bad doctor?
"Then, I quit him. Like the guy I got now who won't answer the phone and has a recording by his nurse that says 'Doctor's office. No flu shots. For other inquiries leave your name and phone number after the beep.'"
But you promise to patronize this new guy in return for the shot.
"What's he gonna do? Sue? Admit publicly he took me on in return for a measly flu shot? Excuse me. I gotta wash my hands."
But, Uncle, you just did not five minutes ago.
"But it says in this pamphlet to wash your hands thoroughly and often in order to avoid the flu."
You sure you didn't have an accident on that driving trip through the Treasure State?
"Naw. But the driving. Lordy. You should see it. Miles and miles of stuff right out of the National Geographic. The place is so big, there's a sign that says: 'Rest stop, 2 miles ahead. Next stop, 106 miles.'"
I could tell Uncle was about to rhapsodize once more about the trip and that was okay, it might deep-six this "patient available" ad idea.
"You cross the Continental Divide on several highways. They got these signs on the steep upgrades, 'Chain Up Area.' Reminds me of the sorority girl I once knew there who took those signs to be an invitation to pull over and have a good time."
"No really. A plain girl she was. Moved later to Hollywood and had to hire a stalker."
I slipped the "patient available" ad under the telephone.
"Montana is one of the few states where dogs ride in the back of pick-up trucks. You go down to your Ford dealer and order a truck and they'll ask what color dog do you want?"
Sounds like you kinda miss the place.
"Yes, and what I really miss is the people. There aren't any. Most places."
But you said lots of California folk are moving in, along with ex-NBA coaches and former network anchor persons.
"All to the good. The California money is doing for the place what Vermont money did for Colorado -- saving it."
Saving the state?
"Yep. You see, the folks who grow up there don't really know what they got. Don't realize they are living in a National Geographic cover. It's the outsiders who come in, look around, and realize this all could go away. They could clear cut it, strip mine it, dam it, fence it, and not think about it. It's the newcomers who save states. Newcomers with new money."
By now it was clear that we wouldn't have to call in that "attention physicians" ad. Uncle Pundit was telling about the Wyoming delegate to a political convention in the '60s who defended the heavy uranium mining then in progress by insisting that when it was over the state would look just the same, "only 9 feet lower."
He went on, about the dams that had obscured the scenes described by Lewis and Clark, the unquenchable thirst of a motorist for the next range of mountains, the next river crossed, of high plains and straight-ribbon highways. And, yes, dogs that ride in the back of pickup trucks.