“Rinse and Spit”

I like dealing with the older ones, she thought to herself. Those kids can be such a pain – constantly squirming in the chair, never staying still. Cleaning their teeth is a real nightmare. Still, it’s a good job, and I’m glad to have it. Dental hygiene was proving to be a real growth industry: it took very little to keep your teeth decent, but it seemed people had lost interest in even the smallest tasks. Well, go ahead, let ‘em rot – job security never looked so good.

“Say Martha, could you check on Mrs. Manning? Number ten, distal – crown strength.”

“Right away, doctor.”

The day usually moved by fairly quickly. Dr. Snyder had a large, thriving practice: four hygienists, two lab technicians, and forty-three clients, most of whom were his patients for at least ten years. All kinds, all ages, all sizes, and patients who practiced various degrees of home care. Mrs. Manning was one of the more diligent ones: other than the root canal on the upper right, she had excellent dental health. My teeth should look so good, Martha thought – more out of pride than envy, of course.

“Hi Celeste, long time no see. Guess your brushing and flossing is keeping us apart.”

“Huh? Oh, hi Martha – yes, I suppose so.”

Hmm. Seems Mrs. M. is a little off her game today.

“Are you okay, dear? You seem a little distracted.”

“Well . . . I’ve been thinking about what needs to be arranged for this year’s Fourth of July celebration. Ever since the Donovans moved to Pittsburgh, I’ve been at a loss of who else the town council might call on to organize the parade.”

Please don’t ask me – please, please, please, please, please . . .

“Any ideas? We’re a little more desperate this year: we need all the help we can get.”

“Have you ever met Tom and Jenny Wilkins? Young couple, came here about six months ago?”

“Wilkins, Wilkins . . . Geez, I thought I knew everyone in town.”

“They’re an amazing couple. He volunteers at the food pantry twice a week, and she’s a part-time nurses’ aide at the hospital. They might be overextended already, though …”