My dad published several science fiction fanzines in the 1950s and 60s, when he was in his twenties and thirties. From time to time, I post articles therefrom. But a significant portion of said zines is difficult to excerpt, since it consists of commentary on other people’s zines; the time-delayed, mimeographed equivalent of today’s comment threads.
Every so often, though, Dad’s comments on someone else’s zine can stand alone. He was 26 when he wrote this response to an issue of Driftwood by Sally Dunn; she was apparently discussing hospital work:
It takes a strong stomach and/or a shell of dispassionate unconcern to work in a hospital, even if you’re not a doctor or nurse. I was night-and-weekend cashier in a hospital for a year and now I no longer wonder why hospital workers so often appear callous. It’s a defense mechanism. We didn’t see many battered bodies at the cashier’s window but there were enough tortured minds. And somehow, most of these people indicated by word or action that they were on to your profiteering game, and they weren’t going to pay one cent more than they absolutely had to. I balanced the books at night and if the hospital was ankle-deep in cash gouged from helpless patients it sure didn’t show in the records. But you can’t explain to an indignant patient that the bill he’s paying often doesn’t come close to the hospital’s expense for taking care of him. # Then for a while I operated the machine which stamped out an addressograph plate for each patient’s records. All the information came from the Admitting Record, which was a treasure trove of raw material for speculation– like: Age, 77 (poor old soul). Address, Parsons Avenue (crummy section of town). Widow. Occupation, Retired (Well, I hope). Nearest Relative, none. (How does she live?) Diagnosis: Pneumonia (Worse and worse). And so on. And then we would get impersonal little phone calls from the switchboard– “I have an expiration in room 220. Mrs. Smith, at 3:05 P.M.” And we pull the card from the file, make a notation on it, and go about our business. You had to be callous.