A very strange day. At 9 a.m. I settled into my desk and picked up the phone to call my dentist?s office. I had an appointment for 11 and planned to cancel with a bogus excuse about having the flu. The woman on the other end said bluntly, ?hello?? and when I asked if this was Dr. David Gong?s office the professionalism reentered her tone. I explained that I needed to cancel for 11 and she said ?He?s not coming in today,? and I thought ?Oh good, he?s sick too,? and then she said ?Have you seen the news? There?s been a shooting. And they?ve let everyone back into the building and he hasn?t arrived and he just wouldn?t do that.?
I hung up with horrified apologies and I?ve been checking the news all day since. It seems some deranged man walked up to him at 7:50 a.m. a block from his office in the usually peaceful Polk Gulch/Russian Hill neighborhood and said ?You remember me,? and shot him. Dr. Gong ran but was shot again, and then the man climbed into his own car and shot himself. This is the story from the SF Chronicle.
I?ve been thinking about Dr. Gong all day. I first went to him when I cracked open a filling on a back molar. He urged me to get a gold crown instead of porcelain, even though gold was less expensive and less profitable for him, because he swore it would last longer. His office was on the sixth floor of a building at Van Ness and Jackson and had a panoramic view of the San Francisco Bay. For some reason, every day I visited him the weather was clear, and you could see all the way to the hills and shrubs of Tiburon.
His office was decorated with color prints of photos he?d taken, vivid pictures of fish markets and bicycle races. He loved to talk about Lance Armstrong and the Tour de France. The thing I most got a kick out of about Dr. Gong is that he was very talkative and would never ask you the kind of yes/no conversation filler you could answer with your mouth full of dental equipment. Instead of asking ?Is the writing going well?? he?d ask something involved like ?Where do you get your inspiration?? And then he?d expect you to answer, and you?d wait till he stopped scraping or drilling and do your best to mumble a satisfactory response.
I really liked the guy. My heart goes out to his wife and two kids and the workers at his office.