I am Chuck.

Today Y starts his first day of third year, which means he starts to actually see patients instead of sitting in the library all day studying. That's exciting and all, but why would I talk about what this experience means for him, when I could talk about the implications this will have on my life? Is med school not all about me?

Med school, as I've said, is a lot like high school -- the lockers, the cliques, and especially the gossip. When school is in session, things get a little...awkward for me. Since I work in the building, I often end up on the elevator, in the coffee line, or on the parking lot shuttle with one or more med students. Generally, I've never spoken to these people and they have no idea who I am, so we stand next to each other and don't make eye contact. A totally normal interaction between a group of strangers... unless you're me.

Have you ever seen the TV show Chuck? Chuck somehow (it's a long story) ends up with a file of the government's secrets embedded in his brain, and every time he encounters something related to anything in the file -- let's say, he sees someone whose picture is in the file for being a criminal-- he has a momentary "flash" where the file in his brain becomes activated and everything related to the criminal plays through his brain.

Well, this is not just a science fiction phenomenon, people. For me, the government's secret files are Facebook and the ridiculous amounts of gossip, which end up in my head not by some crazy turn of events but by my broken memory that can easily remember random facts about people (but not what I learned in class last night). The "flash" is what happens when I am standing next to one of these strangers on the elevator.

Observing match day... or absorbing secrets?

So I left off earlier in the middle of a "normal" interaction between a group of strangers on an elevator, right? Here's what's going through my head in a split second:

About the guy in front of me: Wow, heavy on the cologne this morning, eh? Are you seeing that girl you like today? I hear you latch on to her like a puppy only to be stuck in the friend zone for months at a time. That must suck.

About the guy behind me: Hey, he shaved his head. Wonder what he does now, since his nervous tick was to run his fingers through his hair while he studied.

About the girl to my right: She's okay I guess, but not "way out of her fiance's league".

About the girl to my left: I hear she wears slutty outfits to see patients, this particular one seems more appropriate. I wonder if someone talked to her. I wonder if her fiance still works out only his biceps for hours at a time at the gym. Did she eat eggbeaters for breakfast? At one point she only ate eggbeaters for breakfast. She dots her I's with hearts when she's happy, and dots when she's sad. I wonder which she'd use right this minute. She does look a little sad - maybe her fiance told her she looked fat this morning? He did used to tell her that all the time in college.

Creepy? Maybe. But that's what happens when you leave your "25 Facts" meme public.

Enjoying med school prom... or absorbing secrets?

It gets even worse when there are more med students around, like when I'm on a crowded shuttle bus from the parking lot. The tidbits start to roar in my head and drown out any other thoughts I could possibly have. Pregnant! Possible alcoholic! Having fight with her boyfriend! Not doing so well in school! Can't control anger when drinking! Asks too many questions in class! Had to stop partying because grades were suffering! Perfect wingman! Smells funny! Needs next loan check asap! Lets his wife control him!

Playing "Where's Y?" at White Coat Ceremony... or absorbing secrets?

It's exhausting being me. Meanwhile, I just heard from Y that his day included seeing several patients, writing notes on them for the patient's record, and attending lecture after lecture. He wishes he had the intellectual stimulation I have.