Doctor Doctor

EHHSSchool has always come easy to me.  There was a time when I would have seen that as bragging but in my fifties, a friend taught me the notion of being right sized in the universe, that is, knowing what you are good at, bad at and everything in between.  I do. And I’m comfortable with it.  Now, you might think that having school come easy would mean I was as the top of my class all the time.   That wasn’t the case because of some of the things I wasn’t good at were: focusing on grades instead of fun;  working hard in classes that didn’t interest me;  putting aside the personalities of my teachers; and caring about who was valedictorian.  So, while I made the honor societies, it was often by the skin ofTBP my teeth.  In college, I discovered fraternity life, so while I sometimes made the Dean’s list, sometimes I didn’t.  Parenthetically, college transformed me from a somewhat socially awkward high school kid to a fraternity social chairman and president, in the long run a transformation that would serve me well.   But at no point would anyone have termed me a scholar.  OK, Miss Rocco, my Latin teacher (yes, Latin) called me her on-again-off-again-scholar.  Fondly, I think, if with some frustration.

Given my admitted under-achieving in high school and as an undergraduate, you may be surprised to see (from the copyright notice on my home page) that I am a doctor.   In my forties, I found myself working for people who encouraged graduate work and for a company with a generous fellowshipUSC program, so I ended up in graduate school at USC (FIGHT ON!).  I don’t talk about much about being a doctor except in business and in situations where having someone think I’m a doctor is beneficial.   For example, I have been dropped off first from an airport shuttle because I am a doctor.   That is, unless, trying to be friendly, the driver asks, What kind?  I’m not good at lying, so I say, I have a PhD in electrical engineering.  Drivers then look as if I’ve deceived them, pretending to be a Doctor Doctor, and they adjust their route to drop me off last.   In my 12-Step groups … where titles, last names and professions are not discussed … people who call me are surprised to hear that I am a Doctor, sometimes so surprised that they think they have the wrong number.

Just because I don’t talk about having a doctorate doesn’t mean it hasn’t been important in my life.   Rightly or wrongly, it established a certain credibility that led to positions of influence both within the company I worked for and with industry working groups, which, in turn gave me experience that would serve me well as a consultant for the last 20 years.   When I started my Masters degree … the first step to the doctorate … I had found an area of specialization that intrigued me and a job in which I could use it.  That … and perhaps 30 more years of maturity … transformed me from an on-again-off-again-scholar to a straight A student.   Most significantly, though, completingenemy a dissertation was a unique experience that required persistence and self-discipline.  It taught me the meaning of what Walt Kelly’s Pogo used to say … We have met the enemy and he is us.   Thank goodness for Dr. Chuck Weber (who is no longer with us) and my friend Dr. Paul Feintuch (now my business partner) for telling me, You’ve got enough.  Write it up. You’re done.

But here you can just call me Oldereyes.  You don’t have to call me Doctor.  And certainly not Doctor Doctor.

Aside: One of my favorite names in fiction is Major Major in Joseph Heller’s Catch 22.   When we adopted my daughter, Amy, the judge who finalized it was named Judge Judge.


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