A syndrome: Use my guy . . . please!

There’s nothing unusual about asking for a recommendation when contemplating a home project or something needs servicing. What I find interesting is that the response is often couched in language strongly implying that they have the absolute best plumber, electrician, contractor … whatever, and you would be crazy to consider using anyone else. And if you don’t use their guy? That is taken as a personal slap in the face.

Let’s call this Top Man Syndrome. Top Man because it usually involves a man-to-man recommendation. From my observation, although painful to admit, men have a need for validation of their choices by insisting that others make the same choices. And they confidently offer assurance (with no actual data to back it up) that they have the best guy for the job. 

Women seem more secure and don’t require constant ego reinforcement. They focus on competence and reliability; an excellent reason to consult a woman the next time you’re looking for someone to fix something.

Nowhere is Top Man Syndrome more prevalent than in health care. Think about it. Have you come across anyone who hasn’t had a hip replacement or knee surgery from “the top guy” at (fill in your favorite orthopedic hospital)? To further embellish the top man credential, the doctor is often identified as the surgeon for the Yankees, the Knicks, the Celtics, the Patriots or whatever pro sports team lends the proper street cred. 

It does beg the question: if the surgeon is spending all this time on your friends’ hips, knees and ACLs, how does he possibly have the time for the Yankees, the Knicks, etc.? How can everyone have the top guy?

Before you get too carried away obsessing about having the top guy for your next medical procedure, keep in mind the answer to the following question: 

“What do you call the person who graduates last in their class at medical school?”


M.A. Duca is a resident of Twin Lakes, narrowly focused on everyday life.

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