Talking to a co-worker at the hospital on the administration floor, I noticed a perplexed Hispanic woman who was obviously lost. We rushed to the woman and stated "Can we help you?" However, the woman, who was out of breath, could only speak to us in Spanish. Neither my co-worker nor I could speak any Spanish; however, somehow my friend asked, "You need to go to the Eye Center?" and the woman nodded yes.
We were so happy. We thought we had communicated with the woman in distress. (In reality, we should have known that the Hispanic woman could not have understood "You need to go to the Eye Center" as it was obvious to us from the beginning that she could not communicate in English.) I volunteered to take her to the Eye Clinic, located about 200 yards away on a different level.
As we were walking to the Eye Center, the woman was trying vehemently to tell me something. I thought she was trying to thank me for helping her; however, as we got into the elevator I quickly knew that was the furthest thing from her mind.
As the elevator started to descend, I noticed the woman leaning on another woman, screaming and apparently becoming sick. People in the elevator quickly started asking, "Are you OK? What's the matter?" However, I knew the answer to those questions. She was obviously petrified of elevators! Now, I knew, that instead of what I initially thought was her thanking me for sho wing her the way to the Eye Clinic, she was frantically trying to find the way to the stairs. Suddenly, I pressed the button for the next floor and we quickly exited from the elevator. She said, "Gracias," [Spanish for thank you--living in Texas, even I knew that term]. However, my mind raced to another problem: how was she going to get to the Eye Center, or did she now even want to get to the Eye Center?
I asked, "Eye Center?" while pointing to my eyes. She quickly replied, "No, No, No . . Bambinos [babies]." I thought she meant the Children's Hospital (located in another section of the hospital) but this time I wanted to make sure.
I looked with her for a bilingual employee, and that interpreter told me that she wanted to visit her 5 year old niece, Mary Gonzales, who was sick and on the ninth floor of the Children's Hospital.
Now I knew where she wanted to go, but I also knew she wanted to take the stairs. That meant going down six flights of stairs in one section of the hospital and up nine flights of stairs in another section of the hospital. I found the stairs and we descended all the way to the first level. I then went with her past the cafeteria so she could begin her ascent up the nine flights of stairs in the Children's Hospital. However, as we approached the stairwell door, it hit me: some floors in the Children's Hospital have locked stairwells from the inside (to prevent kidnappings). That meant I would have to accompany her all the way up nine flights to make sure that she had access on nine.
We climbed, and climbed, and climbed. Finally we got to the stairwell door on nine. I was getting tired. She was getting tired. At least the end was here. I reached for the knob, but I noticed a sign posted on the door: "Floor nine secure. Next access on 10."
I thought to myself, "Oh no . . . not another flight!" as I motioned to her to wait. (For some reason I think she knew what I was about to do.) I went up to 10, took the elevator down to 9, and opened the stairwell door for her. We went to the receptionist on 9 and asked what room Mary Gonzales (her niece) was in. After looking in the computer we were both somewhat shocked with the receptionist's response: "Mary was transferred this morning to another room on the 10th floor, 1063."
I knew what to do. I thanked the receptionist as I showed Mary's aunt back to the stairwell where we had just been a few minutes ago. We climbed one more flight of stairs. Opening the stairwell door on 10 we saw Mary's relatives looking at us in shock. Some of the relatives spoke to Mary's aunt in Spanish. Some of the relatives spoke to me in English: &l dquo;We were so worried. Somehow, we got separated in the hospital and you know, my sister does not like elevators. [I thought: Believe me, now I know.] We looked and looked for a long time, but with no luck. We somehow thought she might be here [on the 10th floor], but we just got here and my sister was nowhere to be found."
I replied, "I'm glad we found ya'll. I hope Mary is feeling better." With that, I descended all the way to one; however, this time I took the elevator, not the stairs.
Yes, climbing those stairs might have caused my heart to race a little; however, when we found the family, it was definitely well worth everything.Another example from the hospital was when I saw a 7 year old boy coloring in the Neuro Trauma Intensive Care Unit's Waiting Room. (His mother had been injured in a car accident, sustaining numerous injuries, including a serious traumatic brain injury, and his mother's condition was very serious.) I approached the boy and said, "Wow, you're such a great colorer," in an attempt to cheer the boy up.
'll never forget the boy's reply: "Thank you . . . do you want to buy it?"
Startled, I replied, "Well . . . how much is it?"
The boy answered, "Mister, it's right here on the picture," as he showed me the $1.00 price on the top right corner of his picture. Laughing inwardly, I thought, "Now he's a true entrepreneur." That "art" is now proudly displayed on my office wall as I gladly gave the boy a dollar bill.
Sometimes, the smallest things can make all the difference in the world as a "small thing" to the giver can be a "tremendous thing" to the recipient: returning a wallet to the lost and found; giving a small amount of food to a starving person; or visiting a sick person in the hospital. They are all "small things" but can be huge as they are acts of kindness. Sometimes the "small things" make all the difference in the world, whether it's in a hospital, a supermarket, or anywhere else. Quite often, the "small things" are the right things.