Today I got some orthotic inserts for my sneakers, because I’d like to be able to keep running without having my feet collapse, or my knees implode, or whatever else is meant to happen to long-time runners. My podiatrist was an energetic young woman named Allison, and pretty soon she had my feet wrapped up in warm, wet bandages—which was really pleasant, although it was hard to relax due to the threat of tickling. Apparently Allison was making a mold, from which a plaster cast of my feet could be formed, and used to shape the orthotics.
“What happens to the casts afterward?” I asked.
“Oh, we keep them,” Allison said. “We have to. They’re considered medical records.”
I found the idea of a big warehouse somewhere full of white plaster feet a bit disconcerting. But Allison was enthusiastic. She was, in fact, remarkably perky for someone who had to smell other people’s feet all day. I quizzed her about this: “Don’t you get sick of dealing with feet all the time?”
“Oh no,” Allison said, as if I had said something deeply shocking. “Two people walk in, and they’ll be totally different. With feet, you never know what you’re going to get.”