At this moment I am sitting in my physical therapist’s office reading Arthritis Today magazine on aging and Aging Well magazine. Glancing at the covers of the office’s collection, I see they are very old issues. Maybe the facts here have gone out of date?

They both suggest that retirees and widowers or widows, especially those over 70, should socialize more. The idea, I think, is so they can circulate and find solace in the knowledge that other folks are worse off than they are.

“Each one we pass carries a burden,” someone once said. Sean Spicer, I think.

Taking this advice to heart, I found out by socializing and circulating in the most populated area of the agora — the supermarket — that wisdom thrives among the avocados and Tylenol racks.

Here, not in magazines or even in the doctor’s office, is where you will find what you need to know about arthritis, knee and hip surgery, and conniption fits.

In addition, market shoppers who are veterans of colonoscopies, cataract surgery and worse will bring you up to date.

A caveat: Not all chats will be warm.

It was in one of these random chats that a sprightly woman in her 70s rammed her basket into mine and said, “J.P., stop whining about your damn knee. Look around you. Every knee in this store is in trouble.”

She’s right, of course.

On NBC’s Tuesday night news show, we all learned that knee replacement surgery is now the most fashionable and popular surgery in America and surprisingly among the young, for whom knee problems are hampering their ability to flash dance and use those new $200 running shoes.

NBC’s Lester Holt reports that over 640,000 such surgeries are performed each year in America at the cost of 50,000 bucks a pop. When both knees come into play, that comes to $100,000.

Of course, for those in their 70s and 80s, it’s often more a necessity than fashionable. When the cartilage goes, choices diminish.

Since I started harvesting data among the lettuce and bananas, my enlightenment has grown. One day last month, when I was still using the electric cart to get about (a practice I abandoned when an older lady with a leg brace and cane gave me a dirty look and I was forced to surrender my ride), I had an encounter when a gentleman in another cart cornered me in the Mexican food aisle.

There we were, two fellows with temporary impairments, circling one another like out-of-control motorboats in Portland Harbor, trying to avoid running into passing, ambulatory shoppers.

My cart companion, much older than I, rammed me against the salsa rack. “I read where you’re considering doing the knee thing, but you should know it’s a very pricey operation if you don’t have good insurance.”

Then he leaned in, putting his lips to my ear. “I saw on a news show that if you go to India, there’s a doctor with an office above a car repair shop who can do it cheaper.”

When I tried to get away from him, he kept me pinned against the salsa and whispered, “My advice is try physical therapy first. I know this great guy.”

“I don’t want to go to India,” I said, pulling away.

“No, he’s right here and he looks like he’s 18, but he’s a magician.”

I took Cart Man’s advice and found young Joshua Barlow at MaineGeneral Health and Rehab in FirstPark, and he does look 18, but he tells me he’s 42. Joshua has done wonders with my fabled knee. With killer exercises, he has gotten my pain under control, has kept me from the knife and says that if I continue my seven exercises, I will maintain my independence and avoid the nursing home when I become older, should that day ever come.

So far I’ve shown dramatic improvement and highly recommend the process.

I also changed markets, but just when I thought I was out, the troubled dragged me back in. When I was in the new store’s parking lot this evening, an elderly lady approached me, looked around to make sure no one was listening, and whispered, “J.P., is it true you have toenail fungus?”

How do they find me?

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.