It takes a little more time to do so, but whenever possible I try to ask my patients about their life and work. You learn such astonishing things. A recent week was extra good.
The runner up story:
Me: "What do you do for a living?"
Patient: "I am a bear keeper."
Me: "Huh, and how do you learn to do that?"
Patient: "I took a bear keeping course."
Totally true as it happens. I looked it up. Bears!
There are a surprising number of bears that need caring for, cubs who have lost their mothers and so forth. I found the instructions for the course to be quite charming. Who knew that bears dislike cigars? And the part about being physically agile just plain makes sense.
Grand prize winner of the week was a 93 year old woman. Sharp as a tack, she says she is a lock to make 100. She was telling me about her childhood. Evidently her father was a research chemist, working with some of the big names of the day. As she tells it:
"My mother disliked Henry Ford, he was quite a bigot."
But, she once got a piggy back ride from Thomas Edison!
Two weeks later her mother said: "Close your eyes."
She was led to a window and allowed to open her eyes.
And saw that Thomas Edison had bought her a pony!!