Tuesday, May 12, 2009

All the Small Things

I made a woman cry at work.

Last Thursday, one of the employees at the Guest Services desk told me that a woman was there looking for her checkbook. I told her to send the woman back and I would see what I could do. She was a small woman, older with dark, slightly frazzled hair. The look on her face and the tone of her voice told a story of despair. She told me that she had been a patient at the hospital the previous weekend. She had collapsed and was found by a neighbor and rushed in to the hospital. Whatever was wrong (she didn't say), she was better and went home on Monday.

Unfortunately, she now could not find her checkbook. It had been in her purse, or so she thought, but she was unconscious when she came in and was not sure if it had been brought in with her or lost someplace else. Armed with a description of the checkbook and her name, I went to the Public Safety office to check through the lost and found as well as the patient valuables taken in. Sure enough, a Public Safety Officer had collected it, but the nursing staff apparently did not notify the department when she was discharged so that it could be returned to her.

I took the checkbook back across the street to the woman and turned it over to her. And she promptly burst into tears. She called me an angel, kissed my hand, and told me that I didn't know how much this meant to her. She was right, of course. She told me that she had thought she would have to cancel a whole string of checks and credit cards and get new photo ID. I had saved her this nightmare and she was ever so grateful. She insisted on doing something for me and nothing I said could convince her that it was unnecessary.

Yesterday, she brought me a plate of chocolate chip cookies. They were quite tasty, I must say. Anyway, all of this is to say that the smallest gestures we make toward our fellow humans are often the most important. You don't have to cure cancer or give someone $1 million to make a difference in someone's life. This didn't even take five minutes of my time and it's part of my job, but clearly it meant a lot to this woman. I challenge you to keep in mind the seemingly insignificant acts you can do for someone else. They may not be so small to the person you help.

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