By Judi Curry
People do things for acquaintances if they don’t have anything better to do.. People do things for friends because they want to help and like to have many friends. People do things for those that they love without question or thought, because there are deep feelings for that person.
Sometimes, people do things for those they love even though their instinct is to pull back and find an excuse not to do what is asked.
Such was an experience I had today with our very own San Diego Free Press photo-journalist.
If you have been reading us for awhile, you have noticed a weekly column of extraordinary photographs taken by Annie. She has photographed Torrey Pines, City Heights, Golden Hill, and countless others too numerous to mention. If you would like to see some of the photographs she has taken, hover your mouse over columns and then click on “Field of View” for a real treat.
But today was different for our Annie Lane, because this time she was in front of the camera rather than behind it. Although she graduated as a journalist, and has done work for many media sources, that is not where her focus is today. No, she has another goal that I’d like to tell you about.
When I was a little girl, my mother used to tell me that if I were naughty she would take me to the dentist. The fear of that professional has been with me for decades.
Although I never missed my bi-yearly cleanings, it was always traumatic to walk though the doorway.
Enter Annie Lane. She is studying to be a dental hygienist. This beautiful young lady with humor, intelligence, creative ability that has no end, wants to clean people’s teeth for a living. I have to admire her but she is not one that I would have picked to have that goal.
Annie does not live far from me in Point Loma. She and I attend many of the same meetings and she picks me up and takes me since I don’t like to drive at night.
I call her my “living GPS” because of all the meetings we have gone to together the — last one was the first one that we didn’t get lost getting to. She just whipped her car into gear and drove to where we were going as if she had been there a dozen times. (She had!).
I love Annie. She is younger than my youngest child but is a real kick to be with. Her sense of humor is droll; she has many interests; and is fun to be around. A few months back Annie told me of her new plans.
She would still be an editor of the SDFP; she would still take photographs; but her main focus would be on completing the dental hygiene program. And then, this beautiful dark-haired pixie looked at me and said, “I need to clean the teeth of 70 people before I graduate. Would you be willing to be one of my patients?
“Oh my God, Annie! Ask me to rob a bank; jump off Sunset Cliffs; don’t ask me to voluntarily walk into a dentist’s office.” She said, “ It will only cost $20 and if I don’t get the number of people I need I won’t be able to graduate.” Then she looked at me with her beautiful dark eyes and I melted. “OK,” I said, “I’ll do it. Set it up.”
Annie is taking the course at Concorde Career College, a building sharing the parking lot with Home Depot on Imperial Ave in San Diego. When she first asked me to be a guinea pig I agreed, thinking it would never come to fruition. Then when we made an appointment for the teeth cleaning and she had to cancel it, I knew I was home free. WRONG.
Thursday was the day that Annie got a chance to poke me, prod me, slice me, stick me, scale me, ultra sound me, etc. It was funny that she kept apologizing for the uncomfortable things she was doing to me, and yet that is going to be her profession. But during all the apologizing we were laughing hysterically about what she was doing; how she was doing it; and why she was doing it. I never did get a good explanation as to why I felt like she was “water-boarding” me at times; but it was all in the spirit of having one of the best teeth cleanings I have ever had.
It is interesting to note that after every procedure that she did on me a dentist – Dr. James Bright – came and checked her work. I think we were both as proud of her when she received a 98% on one of the first procedure she did – x-rays – which she can read herself but is not allowed to tell the patient the results – and preparation for the procedure to follow.
Prior to the actual teeth cleaning, her instructor Ninh Luong, a dental hygienist, checked out her diagnosis to make sure he concurred with it. Following the procedures – and, to be honest, it took a while but she is new at this, his comment was that she did a great job and I was “squeaky clean.” In absolute honesty, I have to say that I have never had as thorough a teeth cleaning as I had by Annie Lane. She joked about my coming back in 4 months, and even though it was a joke, in reality I don’t think it is. She will be at the school until her graduation April 11th – I told her I wanted to be the commencement speaker but she forbade me to get within 500 feet of the podium. I think I will be seeing Annie in many different categories – the journalist, the photographer, and the dental hygienist.
Are you interested in helping Annie obtain her goal? A teeth cleaning like no other for $20? Let me copy here what she wrote to me: The school estimates the number of patients I need to be about 70. But the really important thing is that now I need people with periodontal disease (bone loss) and people who haven’t been to the dentist in a while so they have build up on their teeth. Smokers are good. This bothers people because they may feel too embarrassed to go to the dentist but it’s what I need in order to demonstrate competency to graduate.
So what do you think? I have to warn you that you only see this beauty when she welcomes you into her office and escorts you out. Most of the time she looks like a alien, replete with masks, goggles, headlamps, etc. But I had a thoroughly enjoyable experience and I think you will also. If you want to make an appointment to see Annie, her phone number is 619-566-6164. Happy smiling to you!
Ken Stone says
I was honored to have Annie as a go-to freelancer and substitute editor at La Mesa Patch. Some of her best photos were on 111-year-old La Mesan Freddie Maas on her birthday in 2011. Stunning and sensitive images:
The thing about Annie is she excels at all she does. As a fellow journalism classmate of Annie’s, who laughed in many-a-class with her, I’m lucky enough to know her talent in writing – all facets. She can write reviews, opinion, hard news, features. She helps me out when I’ve got writer’s block. And then? She can also *really* clean teeth. I got to be her patient, as well, and while nobody likes the dentist, I gotta rave about Annie. She’s been the only one to make good dental hygiene habits stick (gum after meals, floss twice a day!). We need more Annies in the world. Thanks for inspiring excellent writing and good dental habits, Annie! May you continue to use your many gifts and share :)
Delightful article, Judi. Thank you. Of course I agree with everything you said about Annie!
Annie Lane says
Thank you, Judi, for being my patient, and thank you for the article. You hold an equally special place in my heart.
And thanks to Ken, Melissa and Dianne for the kind words. You have each impacted my life in so many ways I can’t begin to express my gratitude.
Very nice. Annie excels at everything she does!