Analyzing Conversation with a Latte Chaser

Old drawing of "Taddeo's Hallucination" of a man napping, putting rocks in a bag, and carrying them over his shoulder.
Carrying rocks all day cured Frederico’s insomnia, but ruptured his L-4 vertebrae, causing him to wake frequently shrieking with pain.

“Ouch.” the woman beside me involuntarily moaned as she waited for her latte at Starbucks.

“Are you okay?” I asked concerned because she had actually mumbled the complaint three or four times while she stood in line.

“I’ve got this pain in my side that’s radiating into my hip.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. Did you do something to it?” I asked.

“No. It just came out of nowhere. I hope it’s not a tumor or something.”

Okay, now this is where society has changed the dynamic of conversation. In this day and age of analyzing everything everyone says, natural conversations have become decidedly unnatural.

For example, do I try to be supportive and say “I’m sure it’s nothing.” or is that considered insensitive and dismissive of a serious concern she may have? Or do I say “You should have that checked out to be sure it’s nothing serious.” and risk increasing her anxiety?

Instead, I asked questioned to lead her to her own diagnosis and prognosis. A little trick I learned from my parents when I was a teenager; which mostly ended with me on restriction. But I digress.

“When did it start?” I asked, a touch of concern, devoid of anxiety.

“Last night.”

“Before dinner or after dinner?” I continued.

“Before dinner. No, after dinner. Before dinner we moved our old sofa to the curb for a charity pick up and then we went out to dinner.”

Hello! It doesn’t take a pocket scientist to realize the pain in her side is a pulled muscle!

“You moved a sofa?” I said letting the evidence/accusation linger.

“Yeah, I just said that.” She said, annoyed as if I hadn’t been paying attention.

Clearly she was going to need the facts rolled out like a ball of yard by a playful cat. Me-ow!

“That sofa must have been heavy.” I said, trying to sound impressed.

“Yes, it was.”

Instead of picking up on the facts she was laying out, she seemed to be getting defensive; or frightened. It was hard to tell if her preoccupation with taking napkins out of the dispenser was normal or not. For the record, I would say 2-4 is normal. Eighteen is suspect.

“Did you have any help? Did you have a dolly? How could you have carried something so heavy?” I continued with my cross examination.

“My husband and I… just carried it out.” she said and I sensed a bit of hesitation.

Was the truth finally beginning to hit, causing her embarrassment; like going out in public before you realize you still have on your footie pajamas?

“You could have hurt yourself.” I said, snapping my fingers and pointing to her hip. Which, in retrospect, probably was kind of weird.

The woman’s latte was delivered and without so much as a “sorry I took all the napkins,” she turned away to join her friend at a table.

On my way out I heard her friend saying, to what was obviously Marie’s pain revelation, “It’s probably nothing.”

Nothing? Really? Some people can be so insensitive! It could be a tumor for all she knew!