I read Grampa’s Solo Visits this am and it makes me laugh.
Since I have been a family doctor in my town of 9000 for 22 years, the grocery store and coffee shops can be interesting. When I moved here, my daughter was two and my son was seven. We have three grocery stores. I usually go to the one 7 blocks from my house. I would see patients. My diabetics would sometimes look guilty and scurry away when they saw me. Another patient comes to peer in my cart.
“I want to know if YOU are eating healthy food.” he says.
“I don’t see any vegetables.” he says.
“I am in a CSA,” I say. “I get a box from the farm once a week.”
He frowns. “Do you get to choose?”
“No,” I say. “But since I hate throwing vegetables out, we eat more vegetables. Also, we eat ones that are unfamiliar. The first time I got celery root, I had to look it up. I didn’t know what it was.”
He nods. “Hmmm. Ok. We want to be sure you practice what you preach.”
I laugh again. “I sneak in to get the ice cream at midnight, ok? And where is YOUR cart?”
“My wife has it,” he says. “You don’t get to see it.”
“Ok, then. Have a great day.”
When we were first in town, occasionally someone would come start talking about their health in a store.
“I can’t discuss your health in front of my children. HIPAA.”
“Oh,” they’d say, “Uh, yeah. I should call the clinic Monday?”
We had a coffee shop that made the best pastries that I’ve had since I was an exchange student in Denmark. I wished they’d make tiny pastries, bite size, for the diabetic folks. Those folks would slide a newspaper over their plate when I walked in with my family. They looked terribly guilty. I might nod, but I wouldn’t say anything. Sometimes they would confess at the next visit.
There are lots of jobs in small towns where people are very much public figures. Not just doctors, but the people who work for the city and the county, the ones who redo the taxes for homes, the realtors, all sorts.
After I was divorced, another doc at the hospital asks, “Dating someone new?”
I frown, “How do you know?”
She grins, “He lives on my street. I saw you.”
Dang it. The rumor mill is very very efficient and can often be fabulously wrong. That time it was correct, though I don’t think she passed it around. Other people live on the street.
A few days ago someone that looked familiar walks by me. “What are you doing with so-and-so?”
I laugh. “Rumors abound.” I say. “You would not believe the rumors!”
I took the photograph of the coyote yesterday, driving home. Stopped dead in my lane, no one else on the road. People will be stopped in the road here, talking to each other in two cars going opposite directions, or talking to a friend on foot.