I went and saw a patient this morning on the Orthopedic ward, and as I was leaving I saw an older man in a white shirt and tie walking towards me. As our paths converged, he said hi to me, and as I am a friendly Midwestern type, I said something to the effect of "hi how are you" and continued out into the hallway.
To which he had a whole response about life and appreciating what you have and not complaining and I nodded and said it was nice, and then unfortunately he changed directions and started walking with me.
He then started asking me how I was and how my practice was going, did I like it where I was now, how is my family, and I did my best to provide very vague answers, because although it was becoming very apparent that he knew who I was, I was pretty certain that I had absolutely no idea who he was.
The conversation then moved into doctoring and it became evident that he was in fact another doctor, one who was apparently "following my career" over the years and happy that I was doing well. I picked up my pace, attempting to indicate that I had to get to another part of the hospital to continue my rounds. He kept up.
I started to wonder if he was one of the new hospital administrators, trying to get friendly with the staff. Or maybe he was one of these specialists that I refer to but have never met. Or even seen pictures of. I couldn't figure it out, and I was beginning to get very concerned that he would catch on to the fact that I was totally clueless about his identity. Maybe I could have let on earlier that I didn't know him, but now we were a couple of minutes into the conversation and it would be too awkward. I saw an intersection coming up and moved to the left on a path that would take me to the new wing, praying that our shared journey would end there.
Much to my chagrine, he turned left with me and we continued down the long series of hallways that would lead to the new patient tower. During this time he went on about "the life we have chosen to lead" and being a "slave to the pager" and I was really trying to guess at what specialty he might be in, hoping for a hint that would allow me to look him up on the hospital web site, but he kept any references to his own identity very general.
What really worried me was that we'd end up stuck staring at each other waiting for an elevator or on a long ride up, but at the last minute I turned left into the Tower elevator banks and he kept going.
Another bullet dodged.