Livin' on the MDedge

Eye bees, reversed innards, and the DNA van


Turn that smile upside down

Service with a smile. Put on a happy face. Let a smile be your umbrella. Seems like good advice, but don’t let these cliches fool you. They are all examples of surface acting – hiding feelings of annoyance behind a mask of forced pleasantness – and they’re not really good for you. At least not if you work with the public and are required to be nice.

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Investigators at Penn State University and the University at Buffalo looked at survey data from nurses, teachers, and people in food service and found that they were more likely to drink after work than those who did not interact with the public on a regular basis. “In these jobs, there’s also often money tied to showing positive emotions and holding back negative feelings. Money gives you a motivation to override your natural tendencies, but doing it all day can be wearing,” lead investigator Alicia Grandey said in a written statement.

Personality also plays a part. The risk of increased drinking is greater for surface actors who are more impulsive. And it is stronger still for impulsive people who “also worked in jobs where employees have one-time service encounters with customers, like a call center or coffee shop, rather than relationships, like health care or education,” the investigators said.

They suggested that businesses could give their employees more autonomy, but we’ve got another idea. There are lots of awards for real actors, so how about one for surface actors? They could call it the Oscar … Mayer. Best performance in serving a drive-thru customer who smoked a little too much marijuana. Creative achievement while helping a credit card applicant who still doesn’t understand after being told the same thing five times. Stunt coordination while helping a patient use a bedpan (the “turn the other cheek” award). Choreography to get out of bed every day to face the blank stares of sullen teenagers (the “Lord, give me strength” award). The “okay, we get the picture, you can stop with the awards” award.

That’s not the ice cream truck

Any story that starts with strange men in white, unmarked vans is never going to end well. Especially when that strange man is offering $20 in exchange for DNA samples.

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However, this is the situation that Louisville, Ky., finds itself in. According to WAVE3 News, the aforementioned men have been cruising the poorer neighborhoods of the city for a couple of months, offering money to anyone who belongs to Passport Health. Cheek swabs are collected, no questions are asked, and the person walks out with 20 extra dollars.

This is already shady territory, but to make things worse, Passport Health has denied any affiliation. And when asked by one of their customers, the men reported being with Freedom Health. The number the customer was given? Of course it didn’t work.

The cherry on top of the shady cake? According to a professor from the University of Louisville interviewed by WAVE3, the swabs can be used to test for only certain kinds of cancer, and those tests aren’t even commercially available yet. What, you mean this was all a scam? We’re shocked! SHOCKED!

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