There tends to be a sort of unspoken comradery in the physical therapy waiting room. We’re all there for rehab of some sort — arm, leg, hip. I say unspoken because we don’t talk to each other. There’s a glance and a nod, an acknowledgement that we’re all here to get better, but never more than a shared snort towards the television when Kelly Ripa complains about feeling fat.

Today, however, the wall of silence was broken. While thumbing through a Reader’s Digest, I noticed a man come in and make a bit of a commotion sitting down. I took in his gruff demeanor and went back to my reading.

My eyes had just returned to the page when he spoke.

“Want to see my scar?”

I looked up, assuming he was talking to the man sitting next to him, but no. The question was clearly directed at me.


“What to see my scar?” he repeated.

Aside from the fact that this is a really weird thing to ask a stranger, I had no idea where his scar was. Was the scar on his arm? The back of his neck? Was there a red line across his abdomen or worse — somewhere that would require dropping his pants? I really didn’t want him to drop his pants and he seemed like the type of person who would have no qualms doing so in a waiting room full of strangers.

“Um, well, oh. You don’t have to. I mean…”

Before I could finish, he pulled up his shirt sleeve. There seemed to be a collective sigh of relief from the other patients and I’m sure my face went from terrified to only slightly confused.

He pointed out his shoulder surgery scar and proceeded to tell us how he did it. Which, ok, fine. But it was still weird.

He was called in before I was and the quiet understanding resumed in the room.

Except this time I know we were all thinking how fortunate we were that it was only his shoulder.