Back during the third year of Medical School, I ran into another student in the stairwell of Emory University Hospital. We hadn’t seen each other in months, since we were all spread out on clinical rotations and never attended class together anymore.
“How ya doin’?,” I inquired, never breaking stride as we started to pass on the landing. It was, indeed, merely a social greeting. We really had no time to chat. I expected a, “Fine, how’r you?” and a quick passing.
Instead he practically blocked my path and with the blank and penetrating gaze of the Grand Inquisitor, fired back, “Do you really mean that? You don’t really want to know how I’m doing….”
Taken aback and a bit cowed, I responded meekly, “Just bein’ friendly, John,” (not his real name) before fleeing through the door to the floor we just happened to be on (even though my business was two floors down). Later on I thought of all sorts of snappy retorts, like, “You are sooo right. I don’t really care and we actually don’t have time,” or “You on your psych rotation or something? Lighten up, Buddy.”
It has occurred to me over the years that John was just getting a head start on how all medical people think. We are analyzing, evaluating, thinking beneath the surface. That can cause us to be a little strange to the rest of the world full of normal people.
And, by the way, John did become a shrink.