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Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Magazines in Doctors’ Offices

Steve Sorensen
(Originally published in the Warren Times Observer, June 14, 2008.)

“I expected to see a big whitetail
or an elk head hanging in here,” I said.

I’ve been in lots of doctors’ offices lately, and I can’t figure out why waiting rooms are not equipped with better reading material. Think about it. You open the door and cast your glazed eyes about for something to read.

You know the routine. The first magazine you focus on is a copy of an entertainment magazine – probably People, at least three months old. Of course, it doesn’t really matter that it’s three months old, because it’s only about the fluff of celebrity lifestyles – nothing that ever changes and nothing that’s important. It’s so tiresome, but it’s all presented as if it were totally new and vitally important.

I was headed for a doctor’s waiting room in Pittsburgh recently – expecting to sift through People, Woman’s Day, Redbook, Cosmo and all the rest, to find something interesting among the various fashion, food and fun magazines. Instead, what I saw was completely unexpected.

Right on top of a pile was a magazine featuring a cover photo of a black bear. It was North American Hunter, the magazine of the North American Hunting Club. Common sense whispered to me, “That’s probably a stray that will be tossed if I don’t rescue it.” I quickly grabbed it. It might be the only magazine worth reading during a long wait!

Under it was another surprise. American Rifleman. Yikes! Not just a pro-gun, pro-hunting magazine, but the actual “official organ” of the National Rifle Association!

The strangest thing? This doctor’s office treats women – women only – and here are a couple of “politically incorrect” magazines that appeal primarily to men – in a city, in a health care office, connected to a university hospital. Not a place you’d expect to be friendly to what some people call the “blood sports.”

“One of those dastardly right wingers must be dropping off magazines here. Good for him!” I thought.

There were more. And not just the mainstream outdoor rags like Field & Stream and Outdoor Life, but a lot of magazines that most of the public has never heard of.

Bugle, the bi-monthly of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, was there. And Rifle. And even Handloader magazine. As Ted Nugent might say, “You won’t see those in France!” They come from Wolfe Publishing, a company that caters to hard core riflemen and shooters who make their own ammunition.

The newest one from Wolfe’s corral was also there – Successful Hunter. Wolfe targets readers who want accurate information based on solid technical knowledge. If you see anything fluffy in their magazines, it will be in a photograph with a story that includes data about bullet weight and velocity.

Sifting through the pile, I also found The Alaska Professional Hunter. And another copy. And another. And another. It’s a quarterly that I’ve seen only in Alaska, and occasionally at sport shows where guides and outfitters are selling Alaska hunts.

Several well known magazines turned up, too, including Deer & Deer Hunting, Pennsylvania Game & Fish, and Peterson’s Hunting. And I noticed that the mailing labels were not clipped off or blackened out. My right winger theory was wrong. They had the doctor’s own name on them.

He had given me lots to read while passing the time, but too little time passed before I was invited to join my wife and the doctor in the examination room. My reading adventures were over.

After a brief medical conversation, the doctor asked me, “Do you have any questions?”

“Yeah,” I said. “I expected to see a big whitetail or an elk head hanging in here.”

He laughed. “You’re talking about the magazines in the waiting room. I keep telling my staff that it’s not my patients who spend the most time out there. It’s their husbands.”

We need a few more doctors who think like he does. I’d like to thank him for standing up for what he believes in by boldly ordering at least a dozen different magazines that appeal to his fellow hunters.

Oh yeah – and for taking such good care of my wife.


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