2850: Doctor's Office

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Doctor's Office
"The police told me I can't be a doctor, but whenever they show up I just go into the Google Maps settings page I found and change the house to 'Police Headquarters' and then they have to do what I say."
Title text: "The police told me I can't be a doctor, but whenever they show up I just go into the Google Maps settings page I found and change the house to 'Police Headquarters' and then they have to do what I say."


In this comic, Beret Guy has discovered how to add public labels to locations on Google Maps. He has used the tool to label his house as a physician's office, and then proceeded to put on a white lab coat and impersonate a physician, making this another comic with one of his special businesses.

As Cueball arrives for a medical consultation, Beret Guy proceeds to do what he does best -- try to sound like a professional through absurdist, oddball dialogue:

Beret Guy Normal Phrasing Notes
"Welcome to the doctor!" "Welcome to my clinic." Most real outpatient clinics in the US have desk staff that welcome patients, not the physicians themselves. Doctors don't sit behind a desk waiting for patients to arrive.
"We're like librarians, but for your bones and blood." A real doctor wouldn't proactively define their profession to a new patient. If they did so, they might say: "We are trained medical professionals who diagnose and treat illness, provide healthcare advice, and help maintain overall health in our patients." "Bones and blood" is just one focus of medical education, covering topics like their anatomy and physiology, pathology of related diseases, principles of hematology and orthopedics, clinical diagnosis, and treatment strategies. "Librarian" is not an apt analogy for this knowledge.
"Uh-oh! This beeper says you're too hot." "It seems your temperature is elevated according to this thermometer."
"You should eat some of these little snacks that make you colder." "I recommend you take some of these fever-reducing medications." Beret Guy has the medicine already in his hand, suggesting he has only one remedy for whatever condition the patient presents with. Also, in US outpatient care settings it's usually nurses who administer medicine, not doctors, and in either case an order would usually have to be written first. This depends on the medication; in some cases the doctor will have been provided with free samples by the manufacturer, for example.
"We can make holes in you, but you have to fill out this form first." "We need to perform a procedure that requires an incision, or use a syringe and needle to either give you an injection or take a blood sample. But before we proceed, you'll need to provide consent by filling out this form." An incision for a febrile (high temp) patient is not unheard of; it might be needed to address conditions such as abscess drainage, acute appendicitis, an infected wound or gallbladder, or other infections requiring surgical intervention. Injections of antibiotics might also be appropriate to treat a bacterial infection causing a fever, and an injection of an anti-inflammatory could relieve a fever. Taking a blood sample to investigate the cause of an illness is common. However, it would be unusual and clinically suspect to proceed immediately to any of these based solely on a high temperature reading, without any further diagnostics -- even such simple diagnostics as talking with the patient.

In the third panel, Beret Guy then hands Cueball what's supposed to be a medical consent form, but is in fact a New York Times crossword puzzle for a Monday on a clipboard. Monday NYT crosswords are the easiest of the week; New York Times crosswords get more challenging over the week, with Saturday being hardest (Sunday's grid is larger, but has about the same difficulty as Thursday). Beret Guy amusingly misinterprets Cueball's hesitance as being about the difficulty of the crossword.

In the fourth panel, Cueball finally questions whether Beret Guy's claim is accurate, and the facts of the situation are revealed - while Beret Guy wheels in a device labeled "MRI" (for "magnetic resonance imaging"). He wonders aloud what the MRI is for and excitedly predicts that it is loud.

  • Most MRI machines are huge and cannot be wheeled in by one person on a dolly. They're typically housed within dedicated rooms and require specialized infrastructure to support their weight, shield their powerful magnetic fields, and maintain their functionality. So either:
    • this is just one piece of an MRI machine
    • it's mislabeled
    • it's a small MRI of the kind used to scan only one part of the body at a time, e.g. an ankle or knee; this is called a "bedside low-field MRI" and has a weak magnetic field
    • "MRI" stands for something else in this case.
    • Beret Guy is exercising one of his strange powers.
  • And MRI machines are indeed very loud, known for producing banging sounds and other noises, often reaching up to 100 decibels, due to the rapid switching of their magnetic field gradients during scans. To protect their hearing and reduce discomfort, patients are typically provided with earplugs or headphones.

In the title text, Beret Guy acknowledges that the police repeatedly turn up to look into his 'clinic', but each time he heads off their investigations by returning to Google Maps and relabelling his house "Police Headquarters", thus (by implication) making himself Chief of Police to whose authority the officers must submit - which he may also believe removes evidence for any charges of "impersonating a physician". If this works as claimed, it's another of the strange powers of Beret Guy. But this strategy is unlikely to work in real life; suggesting a Google Maps edit can can take several days to be approved by Google Maps editors, and "Police Headquarters" is not a category selection open to everyday users.

A physician imposter was also featured in 699: Trimester, while possibly authentic physicians behaving badly appear in 938: T-Cells, 1471: Gut Fauna, and 1839: Doctor Visit.


[Beret Guy is sitting at a desk, wearing a lab coat. Cueball is walking in from the right as Beret Guy stretches an arm out towards him in greeting.]
Beret Guy: Welcome to the doctor!
Beret Guy: We're like librarians, but for your bones and blood.
[In a frame-less panel Beret Guy is standing in front of Cueball while holding a device in his hand, which are attached with a coiling wire to a thermometer in Cueball's mouth. He reads something of the device while holding a pill bottle in the other hand.]
Beret Guy: Uh-oh! This beeper says you're too hot.
Beret Guy: You should eat some of these little snacks that make you colder.
[Zoom in on the two persons where Beret Guy is holding a pen up towards Cueball who is holding a clipboard with a newspaper page stuck to it. Cueball is looking down at the page, which has a black picture in the top left corner and lots of unreadable lines across the rest of the page.]
Beret Guy: We can make holes in you, but you have to fill out this form first.
Cueball: This is a New York Times crossword.
Beret Guy: Don't worry, it's a Monday, so it's not too hard.
[Cueball is watching as Beret Guy drags in a machine labeled "MRI" on a dolly.]
Cueball: This is a doctor's office, right?
Beret Guy: Yeah! It used to be my house, but I found the setting on Google Maps to change it.
Beret Guy: Hey, wanna help find out what this box does? I bet it's loud!

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Why wouldn't Randal post this on a Monday instead of a Friday? 22:05, 3 November 2023 (UTC)

added transccccccccc Me[citation needed] 22:06, 3 November 2023 (UTC)

Should 699: Trimester be mentioned in the explanation anywhere?-- 02:11, 4 November 2023 (UTC)

eh. probably. Me[citation needed] 02:15, 4 November 2023 (UTC)

Here before fans inevitably figure out which crossword number it is someone, i guess(talk i guess|le edit list) 02:45, 4 November 2023 (UTC)

What terms, exactly, are malapropisms in the second panel? Did someone misuse a fancy word and nobody else bother to check it's meaning, or is there something I'm missing? DL Draco Rex (talk) 04:10, 4 November 2023 (UTC)

You are correct. A "malaprop" is susing a word that sounds similar to the correct word. Beret Guy is just misunderstanding.Nitpicking (talk) 11:42, 4 November 2023 (UTC)

Rearranged the section about other similar comics, and added 1471 [Gut Fauna]. 699 [Trimester] is the only one explicitly confirmed to be an impostor. 07:09, 4 November 2023 (UTC)

Although I'm really very good at US/UK English differences, "doctor's office" always wrongfoots me. As doctors have surgeries, not offices, it adds to the overall feel of "not really a proper doctor" in the comic. Yorkshire Pudding (talk) 13:53, 4 November 2023 (UTC)

I know what you mean. And much of the US healthcare structure also seems to only work very well for those for whom it works at the expense of not working at all for most of the rest. I'd almost not be surprised to find a 'pop-up' surgery like this for either those ready and eager to pay or completely without the means and desperate (the latter might not have the MRI scanner at hand...).
The disparities in US health care are well documented (apologies if you hit a paywall). As for the 'pop-up' surgeries/medical care "offices", you may be referring to urgent care centers, which are commonplace in the US now, and expensive but (maybe) better than going without. True 'pop-ups' (e.g., temporary facilities under canvas) are not unknown, and not just after natural disasters. 17:02, 4 November 2023 (UTC)
For all the problems with the UK healthcare systems (and the gods know that there are indeed some), I can't see Beret Guy's system working here, at the same level of hypothetical. (Same with policing matters.) 14:10, 4 November 2023 (UTC)
Just imagine how Americans feel when we read about members of Parliament holding surgeries for their constituents. Very confusing. -- 15:58, 4 November 2023 (UTC)
It's helpful (at least to me) to read the etymology of the word "surgery", especially how, in British English, it came to mean "a (place for) consultation." Combine this with the realization that, whereas in the USA a physician holds a doctorate degree, a physician in the UK holds a bachelor's degree - UK secondary school graduates, if they qualify, go directly to medical school, bypassing the bachelor's degree step forced on would-be physicians in the US. Thus, a "doctor's office" in the USA is a place where the physician holds a doctorate degree (technically "is a doctor"), and is found in an office processing the paperwork that dominates the doctor's day, whilst a "doctor's surgery" in the UK is a place where the physician might not hold a doctorate degree (technically "is not a doctor") and in which, in the modern day, surgeries seldom (never?) take place. 07:33, 5 November 2023 (UTC)
"We [English] have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, language." - Oscar Wilde, 1887 16:41, 4 November 2023 (UTC)

Maybe the "We're like librarians, but for your bones and blood" refers to medical studies, that involve a lot of rote memorization. Among the things medical students need to know by heart are the names of bones and blood vessels. 00:17, 6 November 2023 (UTC)

The Google Maps stuff sounds a lot like Wiretapping the Secret Service can be easy and fun to me. Jadatkins (talk) 15:24, 6 November 2023 (UTC)

I would argue that "making holes in you" is much more likely to refer to the use of needles and syringes, first to withdraw blood for lab analysis (to determine the root cause of being too hot), and subsequently to administer medication to combat whatever infection is detected. Joe Perez (talk)

I agree; I've made that addition. BunsenH (talk) 18:48, 6 November 2023 (UTC)

There are smaller MRTs just for arms and legs, about the size as shown in the comic. For example the GE Optima MR430s. 12:30, 8 November 2023 (UTC)