THE WHITE COAT

My name is Ragaa. I grew up in Egypt. My mother came from background of French, but she did never go to Paris. My dad was Egyptian, and I was born in Egypt, Cairo, Heliopolis. 

I was the first baby to come in the family, because my mother was the first to get married in her family and my dad was the first to get married in his family. They used to wake me up to play with me because they didn’t have any dolls or anything to play with. So everybody wants to wake me up to feed me, or to do something to me, or to play with me, or to hear my voice crying or singing or whatever, however. 

Today, I will tell you a little bit about what my father wished for me. My father always called me Dr. Ragaa, and he wanted me to go to medical school. He wanted me to be a doctor, to see me in a white coat. I succeeded and I passed in the high school, but I didn’t get the right figures, the right numbers, to get into medical school. So he was very happy.

He said, “OK, I will put you in Social Workers Institute because it’s only girls. You will not have to be with boys or anything. So that way, I will have my way.” 

Ok, all right. So I went to Social Workers Institute and I was very good and I passed and I finished and graduated and everything. 

And then when I got married, I went to England and I worked as a social worker at the Westminster Hospital in London. And there we have to wear white coats.

My father came to visit me in England, and one day he asked me, “Will I be able to come to the hospital to see you?” 

I said, “Yes, why not?” And I remembered the white coat story, but I didn’t tell him anything. 

He came to my office. I had two secretaries, one was typing for me. So I never knew how to type. So they were responsible to put all the cases in the folders because the doctors cannot read the handwriting of everybody.

So my father came and he saw me wearing a white coat and have the badge on the front of my coat: “Medical Social Worker. MEDICAL Social Worker!” He kept reading it silently. 

I said, “Dad, what are you doing?” 

“Oh, I saw you in a white coat, I’m so happy!”

This is the end of my story. I didn’t fulfill his dream, but when he saw me at the Westminster Hospital – that’s a name to be proud of in England – he never thought! You know, I didn’t speak the language perfectly. In Egypt we only speak a little English, more French and Arabic. But I was good to take a position at this big teaching hospital, I was the only foreigner amongst 17 social workers. 

And all the bosses, all the doctors said, “Call Ragaa ask her about this. Call Ragaa ask her about that.” 

I said, “What is this? Why are they using me like a dictionary? Why do they do these things?” 

They said, “Because her husband also is a doctor and she has a LOT of knowledge.” 

Ok! That’s my story.

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