The Doctor by hcj


									                                         The Doctor
         Last February I woke up at 3am with a fever (after hobbling to the bathroom to get the
thermometer, I discovered it was a 105 degree fever) and by noon was en route to Dr. Jeter’s
office. Once I arrived I waited for forty-five minutes (as do all walk ins, based on principle) and
was then allowed to see Dr. Jeter (my fever was still 105). He listened patiently as I listed my
myriad of symptoms (fever, aches, sinus pressure, etc). When I finished my list he gave me his
expert opinion regarding my malady… in medical terms. Having never taken Latin and Science
only when required, I immediately expressed my need for a “translation”. Once Dr. Jeter put it
in Layman’s terms (“you have that crud going around”). I asked for a solution, a course of
action that would remedy my situation, doing away with my illness. Unfortunately, as is always
the case with “crud”, there was nothing I could do but ride it out. While this is a very common
exchange, especially from the Doctor’s side, my trip is a good example of Belkin’s Anomalous
States of Knowledge and Roloff’s Social Exchange.
         “Anomalous States of Knowledge” pertain to stages or levels of knowledge one goes
through in pursuit of information. As you gain information, your “state of knowledge” shifts, as
does your information need. I experienced three “states of knowledge” in my quest for health.
First, I recognized a need for information when I discovered I had a fever (the violent shivering
which woke me up was a big clue, but the thermometer reading really tipped me off) and that
outside information was necessary for me to feel better. Thus, I went to the doctor. After open
discussion of my symptoms I received an expert analysis of my illness. When I heard his
analysis, my need shifted from an explanation of what was wrong to what the explanation meant,
a language clarification. So, next I needed clarification. I did not understand the medical
description of my ailment and when Dr. Jeter put it into language I, the information seeker, could
comprehend what exactly was wrong. Again my information need shifted from semantic
information to my final need, a suggested course of action to deal with my problem. Now that I
knew and understood what I had, I needed to know how to get rid of it. Too bad for me, there
was not much I could do other than push fluids and suffer the symptoms until the “crud” went
away on its own. At this point, even though I did not feel better physically, my information need
(established around 3 am) had been fulfilled.
         My visit with Dr. Jeter is also a good example of Roloff’s Social Exchange. Social
Exchange is the exchange of one resource for another in relational settings, according to Roloff.
I sought Dr. Jeter’s input because of his role in society, as a doctor (whom I had dealt with for
many, many years), I went to him for medical help, as would most of us (unless you are into
religious healing then maybe a priest would be better). In exchange for his knowledge of
medicine and health (or lack there of) I gave him money. While performing this cultural
exchange we utilized elongated code in our discussion. Unlike lexical restricted code (small
talk) and restricted syntactical code (reserved for closer relationships), this code focuses on
clarity and expression of intent. In order for our exchange of resources to be successful Dr. Jeter
and I needed to understand each other explicitly. This way I could have my information need
met and he could receive his pay, an exchange of resources within a relational setting which was
dictated by our places in society, doctor and science challenged history major.
         This is an obviously simplified example of “ASK” and Social Exchange, but I feel it
demonstrates both clearly.

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