Yeah, I’m no Superman

By now you’ve possibly seen the video the above image comes from. It started circulating shortly after the true reality of COVID-19 became evident. The video comes from season 5 episode 12 of the television series Scrubs. I think the episode titled “My Cabbage” contains another lesson about the current pandemic, reducing the transmission and our current behaviors and attitudes toward the situation.

In the clip Dr Kelso is explaining to the Janitor the ease with which infection can be spread. If only we had the same technique of tracing the spread of this disease the show utilizes. Instead, we have to do what Dr. Kelso was asking of the Janitor. We have to each do our job of keeping ourselves and our areas sanitary, whether it be washing our hands or removing a bird from the hospital waiting room. His reasoning is simple and the impact and lesson is felt much later in the episode.

For those who never watched an episode of the show, allow me to summarize its premise. The show centers on the successes and struggles of one Dr. John “J.D.” Dorian as he navigates the world of medicine at Sacred Heart. As co-chief resident he is responsible for teaching and assisting future doctors. The “Cabbage” in the title refers to one such student, Jason Cabbagio. To say Cabbage has no business being at Sacred Heart would be harsh but mostly accurate. He certainly should not be responsible for the well being of others.

J.D. however is not concerned with the mistakes of this particular intern. He has found another intern who is a problem.

“You think you’re better than me Keith”

The problem with Keith is one that every leader has encountered. Leading someone who is already competent and capable is difficult. When this individual knows more or is better at something any leader would find themselves frustrated.

Instead of dealing with Cabbage in an effective manner, J.D. finds comfort in the enjoyable and non threatening nature of their relationship. It soothes his ego. Instead of accepting the opportunity Keith could present, as the saying goes the student reflect the teacher, he chose to waste energy on being a hindrance to Keith.

Since Scrubs is a sitcom the audience has the benefit of seeing a conclusion to this situation. Under the advice of his mentor, Dr. Cox, J.D. realizes the doctor he should be supporting was Keith. He also realizes Cabbage isn’t advancing along with his peers and is most likely not cut out for medicine. If the episode had ended with J.D. explaining this to Cabbage, well while sad this would have been a lesson in owning your shortcomings perhaps.


A lot had happened on Scrubs before this episode. And although some patients seen on the show were one and done, others appeared several times even having their own storyline. One such character was Mrs. Patricia Wilk. Mrs Wilk was being treated at Sacred Heart for quite some time, since season 3. And yet this episode saw her preparing for discharge. Her immune system still weak but healthy enough to go home. Until, one handshake from Cabbage. Cabbage who had just picked up a glove from the ground. Cabbage who didn’t wash his hands afterwards.

“And just like that you have a patient in trouble”

Those were Dr Kelso’s words of warning to the Janitor.

And why?

Instead of trusting and working with those who are here to help, the choice was made to be adversarial.

Instead of trusting and working with those who are here to help, the choice was made to be adversarial.

Only to ally oneself with those who protect our pride.

While ignoring warnings and signals and ones own common sense.

Forgetting, forsaking, forfeiting those who depend upon us, those most vulnerable, those who look toward us for leadership, direction and help.

While this episode of Scrubs did a lot to highlight the importance of cleanliness and sanitation to avoid the spread of disease, it was the attitude and actions of those around her that ultimately affected Mrs. Wilk’s fate. This lesson should resonate with us all now more than ever.

This pandemic continues for many reasons. Oceans allowed for a false sense of isolation. False information incorrectly identified those most susceptible.

We must act in unison, in harmony towards the goal of ceasing the spread of this disease.

It will take everyone….we can’t do it by ourselves.

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