Because of my career path, I’ve been fortunate to be around quite a few celebrities, most of whom come from the athletic arena. But I had a brush with greatness of a different kind about eight-and-a-half years ago, when the person in question was a mere neurosurgeon at Chelsea Community Hospital in Chelsea, Michigan.
It was none other than Dr. Sanjay Gupta, current CNN Medical Correspondent and, if you believe media reports, the soon-to-be Surgeon General of the United States – and enemy of producer Michael Moore (just ask Larry King). If you watch the news, chances are he needs no introduction.
I’m pretty sure it was in 2000 when I met him. I recall being told that Dr. Gupta, then the newest member of the Chelsea Hospital staff, had just made the People magazine’s “100 Eligible Bachelor” list (Note: I was shocked to find that my name had been excluded from said list, but I quickly managed to recover). The hospital PR contact asked me to interview Dr. Gupta for the Chelsea Hospital newsletter, and because it was nearly nine years ago I don’t remember many of the particulars of our chat (and the transcripts have long since been thrown away). I only remember him to be funny and gracious, and a very good interview when compared to many of the “stodgy” doctors I’d interviewed over the years. (By the way, Chelsea is the coolest hospital I’ve ever seen. It looks like a college campus with buildings spread out all over the place, and it doesn’t even have that awful “hospital smell” that most institutions of that genre always seem to have. But I digress.)
It turns out that Dr. Gupta quickly moved on to bigger and better things, and my interview with him never actually ran in the newsletter. Perhaps his People award was a springboard for him (that is my guess, anyway), because he had already informed the hospital he was leaving by the time the newsletter was ready to print.
Of course, I’ve never had an opportunity to speak with him since, but every time I see him on television it makes me laugh. I’d like to hear of other people’s unlikely encounters with celebrities before they became famous. Share them with us by leaving your story in the comment box.