I was at the medical lab, along with seven or eight others, waiting for someone to draw a blood sample. No one was at the reception desk, since the company, to save money, used the actual phlebotomists to sign people in and answer the phones, and they were all in the little back rooms with patients.

In fact, as we learned, even the answering machine was on speakerphone. “Hello,” someone said after the phone rang, thinking he was speaking only to a machine. He gave his name, audible of course to all of us.

“I was told by Dr. Schultz to deliver a stool sample to your lab. How do I get it into the little jar? Do I have a bowel movement into the toilet as I usually do, and then scoop a little out? Will it be contaminated by the water?”

By this time I was rushing to the little back rooms to find a technician. “The answering machine is broadcasting someone’s private details!” I said.

One of them rushed out. “It’s supposed to be off!” she said.

“It isn’t,” I told her.

The terrible thing was that I knew the caller. Since then, it hasn’t been easy to look at him with composure when we meet on the street.

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