Many MCV friends recall this hilarious story as a part of the reminiscence of our residency days: ‘poor as a church mouse’!
Indeed, the MCV Surgery program then under David Hume was famous as one of top 5 surgery programs throughout the country but also known to giving the country-lowest salary after Bill Scott’s Vanderbilt surgery program ( I believe the salary we received was around 9,000 to 10,000 USD per year, almost half of what other programs in New York area paid).
So, the good beef steaks were a rare commodity we house staffs can hardly afford and we, ‘poor as a church mouse’, all looked forward to having a feast with an unlimited amount of the steaks once a year at Dr. James Brooks’ house. Indeed, nationally renowned thoracic surgeon Dr. James Brooks, the chief of thoracic surgery, who was a typical Southern Confederate supporter, saved one day every year along the Independence Day to invite all the surgery house staffs and their wives to his tiny house to serve outdoor barbecues with specially ordered steaks from Murray’s.
His house was quite small but it was supposed to be an outdoor party so that we didn’t have much trouble to eat altogether till one day when the summer storm right before the party forced all of us to come into the house! When I got the steak on my plate and joined the group/crowd within the house, there was even no standing room for me but someone from the bathroom hollered me! I found quite a few boys were already there but they spared one place, that is the toilet, for me to honor as a senior resident.
Well, for the first time I ever had such juicy steak while casually sitting over the toilet though I didn’t use the toilet for its original function. But embarrassingly I became an instant celebrity(?) among the colleagues because someone obviously took the photo of me sitting on the toilet - I believe there was no toilet seat cover! - to finish the steak and circulated it as a roaring gossip!
Later, I heard quite a few boys brought up this hilarious story on homecoming days and further someone accommodated this story on their annual satire drama MCV students and residents play to honor good(?) old days as poor as a church mouse!
P.S. My youngest daughter is so interested in our gone days through MCV so that I wrote/shared this hilarious story with her.
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