“No,” I answered. “I got this dentist’s name from our insurance website. He was the only one on our preferred provider list for Cincinnati. Where are we?”
“We are in Over-the-Rhine,” Tim announced slowly.
I had noticed that the neighborhoods appeared rougher and rougher as we followed our directions, but I had no idea. Over-the-Rhine had been in the news a lot lately, and not for the best of reasons. It boasted 606 violent crimes and 350 robberies in the past twelve months. One website had deemed it The Most Dangerous Neighborhood in the United States. The police had even created an elite sixty-man crime-fighting unit, code-named “Vortex,” to work the Over-the-Rhine area. And here I was in the middle of it with my husband and two kids, going to get our teeth cleaned!
We located the dentist’s address on a brown brick four-story building. Tim parked in a small lot next to it and we wondered out loud if our car would be there when we returned. We made our way quickly to the entrance, my arm around eleven-year-old Isaac and Tim’s arm around fifteen-year-old Cassie.
Once inside, we found ourselves in a large white waiting room—sterile white walls in much need of a fresh coat of paint, sterile white floors in much need of a mop bucket of Lysol. The scent of cigarette smoke hung in the air. The room was full of old wooden chairs, yet empty of people. The four of us just stood there for a few seconds, taking it all in. Then I made my way to the receptionist window across the room to sign our names on the fateful list.
Soon a door opened and a man with dark, greasy hair appeared, wearing a white lab coat. “Cassie Alexander and Tim Alexander!” he called. Cassie and Tim stood and walked toward him. Cassie glanced back at me anxiously before disappearing through the door.
No more than fifteen minutes later, the door opened again and the man in the white coat called, “Isaac Alexander!” As Isaac went into the door, Cassie and Tim came out.
Cassie ran toward me, her eyes wide with fear. “Mom! It hurt so bad!” she cried. Her cheeks were red from her mouth to her eyes.
One look at Tim confirmed it. “It was bad,” he repeated. Tim described how the man at the door had “cleaned” his teeth—he stuck his finger in the polish container, scooped out some polish, smeared it on all of Tim’s teeth at once, turned on his polisher, stood over Tim like a mad man, and roughly ran the power tool from tooth to tooth in a matter of seconds.
While Tim and Cassie were still relaying their “Chain Saw Massacre” experience, the door opened and Isaac came out. He walked straight toward me and cried, “Mom!” He retracted his lips to display bloody teeth and gums.
“Oh, my gosh, Isaac!” I yelled.
“That dentist is CRAZY. He’s taking a smoke break and then he’s coming for you!” Isaac blurted out.
“How do you know he’s taking a smoke break?” I questioned.
“I could see him through the window!” Isaac exclaimed.
At that moment the door opened again and the man in the white coat called, “Becky Alexander!”
I did let the greasy-haired guy clean my teeth. Yes, it was as bad as my family had described. We never returned. In fact, I went straight home and cancelled my dental insurance. We laugh about it now. We call him The Dentist from Hell. But it certainly was not funny at the time.
God has blessed you with another day. Who knows what adventures you will have! If by chance one of them involves horror, remember that you may be able to laugh about it later.
“Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me” (Psalm 55:5 NIV).
*Author’s Note: That dentist damaged Isaac’s gums. He had to have a procedure to repair them.