I am unusually comfortable in hospitals and doctors’ offices and medical facilities. I don’t know why that is, but here’s a theory.
When you or someone you love goes in to have something done, here’s what generally happens. Strangers in scrubs come up to you, introduce themselves, make sure you are who you are, explain what is going to happen, and tell you what’s required of you. They look you and your loved one in the eye and address you by name. If you ask a question that shows you missed something, they will repeat it as if for the first time. They smile, warmly, genuinely (most of them, anyway). Sometimes they’ll pat you on the leg or the arm. If you joke they’ll play along. You’ll have some quiet time to yourself, to do nothing but rest and think and wait until someone comes to get you.
Outside childhood, is there anyplace else where this happens routinely? Would the day be easier if someone came up and oriented us?
“Put these grownup clothes on, and when you’re done, your PJ’s will be waiting inside this clean clear sack.”
“You will be disappointed in your lunch today, but dinner will be better.”
“That thing you are worried about has never happened and is not likely to happen and won’t happen today.”
“Someone will irritate you in the ways he has always irritated you, but you will overlook it and, for the first time, glimpse his own fears, and your heart will be softened.”
“Someone will misunderstand you, but you will have a chance to clarify.”
“You’re not going to have time for everything on your list today, but you will get an unexpected window of time tomorrow.”
“You will get lost driving today, but you’ll find your way, and someday when someone wonders where that new bakery is, you can tell them, because you saw it on your detour.”
“This is going to hurt a little, but I’ve brought a bandaid.”
“Spring will come again. Until then, there’s wool and cocoa.”
I know this is the rose-glasses view. I know experiences in some facilities are not like this. And yet. Are there ways we could do this for each other outside of medical facilities? What orienting would you like to hear? What orienting are you able to give?
And the week that was:
An all-people edition. Grateful:
For journalist friends to talk shop with over lunch.
For one’s habit of giving me a hug when we part.
For the folks who hadn’t seen me in a while and texted to check on me.
For friends who ask for help when they need it.
For the security guards at work who walk us to our cars after dark.
For the guys at work who brought treats—doughnuts this morning and homemade brownies this afternoon.
For the coworker who said, “You look great!”
For folks who have institutional knowledge (in today’s case, knowledge of the source of a longtime in-joke).
For a talk with my brother.
For the friend who sent me a recording of morning birdcalls.
Favorite sentence I read at work today: “Admission and ham sandwiches are free.”
Making a one-word joke that won the admiration of a humor connoisseur.
Gving mutual feedback on an intense project now that it’s wrapped up.
Shoptalk on editing and being edited.
A lively twitter chat about the #writinglife.
Both sending out and receiving encouraging words.
Also, cutie oranges, and natural peanut butter that is nothing but mashed peanuts, and my favorite sentence I read at work today, a little boy’s answer to what he learned on his visit to Heifer Ranch: “I didn’t know chickens have bones.”
The way Voxer allows a conversation over time.
Doing for someone what she once did for me: keeping company over the phone on a long drive.
A coworker from the far office working among us today.
A glow of enthusiasm when someone told about her weekend trip.
Tania Runyan’s post on how to read a D.H. Lawrence poem.
Nancy Nordenson’s blog post about how she and her siblings collected their memories of their mom for her and for the grandchildren.
A report of a sweet random act of singing.
Seeing two coworkers (one here now, one from the far office) come back from lunch all smiles, just like old times.
Remembering the word “caduceus” from high school Latin, so when I found a lost charm in the women’s restroom, I could send an email asking, “Are you missing your caduceus?”
The friend who drove me somewhere, and her gift of a petite heart-shaped box of chocolates.
The friend who drove me home, and her gifts of a homemade loaf of bread and a hug and a promise to check on me later.
The various people who oriented me and told me what was needed of me and what was going to happen, and their gifts of warm smiles, a skilled needle stick, a pat on the leg, jokes, answering my questions, a warmed blanket, and a choice of beverage afterwards when I was really thirsty. (Routine stuff. Everything’s OK.)
The friend who held the good thought, and her gift of an enthusiastic, slightly momlike, nutritious and filling discussion of diet.
The friend I’ve known since grad school, and her gift of a phone call to discuss the piece I’m writing for her and then to get caught up on each others’ lives a bit (and also for that Harry & David quiche she sent me after Dad died).
Saturday, morning edition:
Coffee, at that just-right temperature when it’s no longer hot enough to burn your mouth but still hot enough to release its full flavor and warm all the way down (and the Christmas gift of a small orange coffeemaker, and the friend who gave it).
That bread, toasted, with apricot preserves (and the three women in my life who convinced me that apricot anything was worth trying).
The newspaper outside my door every morning, and the unseen person who delivers it, and the folks there who make my job a pleasure.
The people who understand Valentine’s is a weird holiday for some people, and who posted their own equivalents of candy hearts for anyone who stops by.
The anticipation of playing music this afternoon, and taking the rest of that bread loaf to share.
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