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Dynamic Chiropractic – March 25, 2008, Vol. 26, Issue 07

Even Paranoids Have Real Enemies

By John Hanks, DC

The hotel radio alarm clock suddenly erupted with a fiesta of Mexican accordion music. It was 2:18 a.m. This alarm time was not my choice. I had forgotten to check the clock when I went to bed, since I had asked for a wake-up call from the front desk and had set my own travel clock.

But someone had set the radio clock for this ungodly morning hour. Was it the last person who slept here, thinking it was a cool joke to wake up the next patron in the middle of the night? Was it a disgruntled maid who had found this a way to stick it to "The Man"? All I knew was that I hoped I could go back to sleep. Besides, if it were the maid, I wasn't going to drink from those hotel water glasses. I saw something on TV where hidden cameras showed maids wiping out glasses with the same washrag they used to clean the toilet. No kidding.

Am I just a little too paranoid? I went to my laptop and opened the hotel wireless connection with a password given to me from the front desk. My Mac computer then said something to the effect of, "Do you want to join some foreign network that is not part of your Trusted Networks." I balked. I usually say "yes" automatically, but did I want to join a wireless network in a hotel with contaminated water glasses? If I clicked on "OK," would some computer worm fry my hard drive? I logged on and nothing bad happened - but that doesn't mean it won't happen next time!

I don't trust my own laptop. It has a tiny camera at the top that can film me live during an Internet conversation. How do I know it isn't on all the time, broadcasting my face on some YouTube site? The Internet has been nifty, but I'm constantly aware that my username, passwords, account numbers, confirmation numbers and my mother's maiden name are flashing around somewhere in the ether, supposedly protected - except against a 12-year-old hacker.

But this article isn't about the Internet or hotels. It's about how I learned to mistrust without going crazy. When I was first in practice, I put my diplomas on the wall in the waiting room to show my education credentials. Sharing my training with patients seemed to be a good way to explain my education and what schools I had attended. I believed they might be impressed. (However, I have taken down my high school diploma.) But now I get new patients who have "Googled" me before they decide to enter my office. They know everything about me, whether I like it or not. One patient knew where I lived and the breed of dog I have. I still don't know how they figured out the dog thing.

"They" seem to be out to get me. I got a new credit card with a low interest rate guaranteed for one year, but the fine print said I will be charged 36 percent if I miss a payment. I tried to make an extra principal payment on my mortgage, but I found out the bank only gives me a five-day window after the due date to make that payment. I lost one of my car keys and went to the dealership to get another one, but the dealership said that unless I had two keys to show them, they would charge me $100 for another key! My insurance agent called and wanted to go to lunch. Will he try to sell me more insurance?

Maybe I'm just too suspicious, but life is full of stuff like this. An old girlfriend, from whom I have not heard in decades, left me a message to call her. I nervously called her back, wondering if she wanted to share some fond memory of our time together. But all she wanted was for me to sign up for some multilevel weight-loss scheme.

I grew up in a small town where we never locked our doors, so it has taken me a while to get a little paranoid and a bit cautious. Recently, I consulted with a new patient, a woman who told me she had seen eight different DCs within a year's time. It was our second visit. "Dr. Hanks, you helped me more on that first visit than all the other chiropractors combined!" She went on to tell me how God had directed her to my office and how she knew that finally she had found a doctor who could help her. When I was first in practice, I might have been flattered, but now my first thought was, "Somehow, for some reason, this woman is going to sue me!"

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced that it will continue to randomly audit chiropractic records. Will my number come up? If I used the wrong code at some time, will I have to go to a special Medicare jail?

Every business wants my e-mail address and each is willing to give me discounts, coupons or a free baseball cap in order to get it. I got a free cup of coffee at the local coffee kiosk by giving them my address. For those of you who do not get enough e-mails, this could be a good way to feel more popular. But for me, it just shows what I am willing to do to get a free baseball cap and a cup of coffee. I am waiting for the e-mails.

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