"What are you reading?"
I had no idea who this old guy was. I often head to the pub to get some food and a pint (or two, or three) and study a bit. When you study as much as medical school requires you to, you learn the value of switching your environments up. It actually helps you focus more, and I don’t have issues with music being played and people talking around me, so why not the pub?
"Uh, just some philosophy."
I’m not really a shy person but you can tell when someone has had a few and who knows what’s going to come out of their mouths at that point. Ever curious, the old bearded man wanted to know why I was reading philosophy, and what I did that limited my free time and once he elicited that I’m a medical student that’s when the conversation turned from banal annoyance to entertaining and enlightening, and what he would tell me brilliantly straddled the line between drunken lies and truth as he wove his tapestry of life lessons to hand to me.
I learned that this guy has survived over 10 “heart attacks” (I say that with quotations because it was probably bouts of angina combined with actual myocardial infarctions), in addition to being a massive cocaine fiend, chronic smoker, heavy drinker and working long hours as a business owner. Now, this was obvious all exaggerated, but he was definitely a coke head, he wouldn’t know the things about it if he wasn’t. And he definitely had troubles with his heart because this guy was a mess and described all of the stents he’s had put in. The shocking thing was that he just didn’t care. His philosophy was to party hard at all costs and it was working for him for over 60 years.
When people find out you’re a medical student/doctor you get all sorts of interactions. Yeah, a lot of people are gonna hit you up for a casual consultation for themselves or their “friend,” but sometimes you hit the jackpot and you get stories of how people snort enough cocaine to require a ton of stent work.
People feel compelled to share things with you because of a status that they think you’ve achieved within society. People trust you to open up about things that have happened to them in a serious context, or a booze-fueled rant. It’s really a sign of respect and admiration when you think about it.
Anyways, you never know what stories you’ll come across when you dedicate your life to the medical field. I love it.