No More Cold Doctors
Contrary to what most people thought or believed, Tadashi Hamada didn't come out of the womb knowing from birth that destiny decreed him to be a prodigy in robotics.
His first dream was to be a doctor.
What made him want to pursue such an ambition had nothing to do with money, fame, or family honor. His reason was simple: he wanted to help people. Tadashi thought he could fulfill that desire as a doctor. He got into college early, declared a major in biology, took the pre-medicine track, the whole shebang. He breezed through lectures and labs with ease while his peers struggled and complained from the hard work and all-nighters. With his brilliant mind and kind heart, Tadashi seemed more than able and certain that he'd follow the road he set for himself. That changed when he began to shadow doctors: an experience that involved observing physicians as they worked. (He had to make connections and get approval of course; he couldn't just follow around any doctor.) Through this, Tadashi got a less than sunny glimpse of the medical world.
It was one thing to read from textbooks, and entirely another to immerse himself in the workplace.
He saw firsthand the stress they had to deal with, from long hours and often thankless patients alike. Doctors dealt with people at their worst. Hardly anyone came to the hospital needing chemotherapy or gastric bypass with a beaming smile on his face and a skip to his step. Sometimes recoveries didn't go quickly as predicted, or strange symptoms eluded diagnostic protocol. Treating people didn't look like a flow chart on the textbook. It was a web of anomalies and uncertainties. Of course, human error factored into the equation. After all, doctors were not machines. It was expected that doctors do well, and if they failed, they got all the blame. People often forgot that doctors were only human, with their own setbacks, struggles, and lives outside of their interactions with patients. There was a reason why medicine was referred to as a practice. It was a dynamic field, constantly abound with new diseases and cures. Learning never stopped even after medical school. Doctors were still learning on the job. Younger people like Tadashi were more adept at picking up new techniques that came with technological advancements; older doctors weren't as flexible. The inability to learn quickly was just as much of an obstacle as the inability to perform well. Again, doctors weren't machines.
Medicine was a practice, and doctors practiced on people. That was the hard truth. The vast majority of doctors always strived to do their best, but sometimes they made mistakes. In the worst case scenario, their patients paid the price with their lives.
Then there were lawsuits. Oh, the lawsuits. Doctors feared those more anything else. Some were taught in school that it was more important to avoid lawsuits than to actually treat the patients. Tadashi once met an orthopedic surgeon so paranoid and cynical that he could only see his patients as potential lawsuits, ticking time bombs just waiting to happen and detonate upon the slightest sign of malpractice, robbing him of his dignity, time, and money.
Eventually Tadashi asked himself: did he really want that kind of life? Did he really want to be a doctor? His vision to help people risked being hampered by hospital bureaucracy and the often brutal struggle to fight back sickness and death. He had seen for himself how some of the most kind-hearted doctors became crushed and jaded over time. Would he end up with the same fate? For the first time in his life, he didn't know what to do. He still kept up his grades in college, but as Tadashi mulled over his future, it only seemed all the more cloudy and hard to see.
The epiphany of what he'd do for the rest of his life came in a way he never expected. It happened on the day he had taken Hiro to his appointment at the clinic. Hiro hated doctor appointments. His older brother knew that better than anyone else. As a child, and for the longest time, Hiro was practically unconsolable upon knowing that he'd need a shot. The poor kid hated cold hands and prickly needles. Hiro outgrew the crying stage; now, as he walked out of the clinic with his brother, he wore a sullen face and dragged his feet as he rubbed his sore arm.
Tadashi tried to comfort him by ruffling his messy hair. "Sorry for the rough day, bro. What do you say to playing video games as soon as we get home?"
Hiro's face instantly brightened. "Yeah, I want to try out that new fighting robot game I got for my birthday." He looked up with a frown. "Go easy on me, though. I might be only able to use one arm."
Tadashi rolled his eyes. "Oh come on, shots are not as bad as they sound. It's the medicine that makes your arm sore, not the actual needle."
"Yeah, but it still hurts," Hiro insisted.
"Chill out, bro. It's not like you got a gunshot wound or anything."
Hiro cringed at hearing that. He clutched at his bandaged arm. Out of consideration for his little brother who survived yet another harrowing day of getting vaccines, Tadashi no longer mentioned anything medical-related.
Tadashi enjoyed spending time with his little brother. He'd rather hang out with Hiro than his overly competitive peers who worried too much over grades, studying, and being unacquainted with the definition of fun. On his down time, Tadashi liked to help Hiro build robots. It was fun, and he figured it could be practical too, because tinkering with the parts could help him master handling biotechnology surgeons often used in their work.
After dinner, he and Hiro spent the night playing the new game.
"Games about fighting robots are getting pretty popular nowadays," Tadashi remarked as he powered up his mech for a finishing move.
"Yeah, fighting robots are cool," Hiro said as he tried and succeeded in evading his brother's attack.
The Japanese have always held a strong cultural belief that technology had the power to save mankind. The Hamada brothers were of no exception to holding this belief. Tadashi had seen examples of it in Hiro's favorite anime like Neon Genesis Evangelion, Mobile Suit Gundam, and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, to name only a few. Maybe that was why the Japanese liked robots so much. Especially piloted ones that could kick the crap out of alien enemies. There were robots in fiction and reality that could save people, but was there one that ever saved a person? Not save the whole world, but simply help someone in need? That was when the eureka moment hit Tadashi.
He paused the game, making Hiro look up in confusion. "Got to study? Or do you need to pee?"
"Neither," Tadashi replied with a chuckle. "Go on and do the single player campaign without me. I got a really cool idea I want to work on."
Tadashi dashed up to his room, his mind racing faster than his legs. What stirred within him was a deep-seated feeling even watching a surgical operation didn't give him. It was the itch to invent. He was someone who liked to be challenged. He liked the challenge that faced him and the world: blurring the boundary between healthcare and robotics. He had both the mind and heart to do it, so why not?
The traditional image of cold, unfeeling, robots had to be done away with. His robot would be different. His robot would be soft and warm, gentle and kind...so much so that it could almost be human.
While Tadashi hunched over his desk, deep in thought, he was startled for a moment when the family cat Mochi leapt onto his lap. He smiled to himself as stroked the chubby cat. He remembered that when Hiro was little, he'd hug the cat whenever a visit to the doctor made him upset. Hiro always used to say that Mochi being warm, fat, and fluffy made him feel better for some reason.
Tadashi wanted his robot to evoke the exact same feeling. His pencil scribbled over several blank sheets of paper as the gears clicked and turned in his head. He let his imagination run wild; at the same time he kept himself grounded in scientific rationalism. It was his full intent to make his idea a reality.
His drawing skills were rudimentary at best, but enough to adequately translate his vision from mind to paper. Tadashi leaned back in his chair and smiled to himself, pleased with the work he had done so far. There was more to his idea than a simple, balloon-shaped outline. It would become a creation of robotic efficiency without robotic coldness, and of human kindness without human error. With this, he hoped for a world with no more cold doctors.
On that very night, 9:05 PM in San Fransokyo, Tadashi Hamada initiated Project Baymax.
I may extend this to a twoshot, the other chapter focusing on how Tadashi met his friends and started making Baymax.
Thank you for all the favorites and reviews so far! If you liked this, feel free to check out my other BH6 oneshots:
-Crazy Asian Driver
-In the Hospital