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“It is much more important to know what sort of a patient has a disease than what sort of a disease a patient has.” - Sir William Osler

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    Tuesday, November 13, 2007
    Conversations in Checkout Lines

    So today I'm shopping for milk and such to restock after my week off, and as I am standing in line waiting to check out, behind me I hear this woman's cell phone ring. Her conversation, I swear it, goes like this: (boring parts edited out)

    "Hi, yes, you don't have to pick up Sarah. I picked her up from the therapist's and took her to work with me. They said she only gained one and three-quarter pounds this week, so they were asking her about her caloric intake, what happened, and she said she was just careless..."

    So lady, I am deducing from this conversation that you have a daughter with an eating disorder. Question: Why would you want to talk about this in a supermarket checkout line?? Where anyone can hear you?

    On a funnier note, a few weeks ago I was in another store waiting to check out and the older gentleman in front of me had two individual Yoplaits plus a small cardboard case which I figured from the conversation contained another dozen. "The manager says there's twelve in that one," he informed the cashier. "They're all the same flavor. Boston Cream Pie. That's fourteen."

    Of course, I had to ask. (My father would have done the same; it's disconcerting to realize that I get more like him the older I get.)

    "What happens if you get tired of that flavor?"

    "Well, I've been eating them for two years now," he retorted. "I don't think that's going to happen."

    "Oh, okay," I managed.

    "Sometimes I get the lemon meringue flavor," he confided, "but I don't like the fruity ones. Ugh."

    You learn things about people standing in checkout lines. A friend of mine once recounted the story of standing in line late at night behind a haggard-looking couple checking out a lot of chocolate frosting. It was pretty clear what they were going to do with it.




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