Make Someone’s Day Today
While lying in bed last night, waiting for sleep to befall me, I remembered the first time that I had to spend five days in the hospital with childhood asthma. I was in the second grade.
Obviously, I was sick, but that fact was unbeknownst to me. When I was a kid, I never knew when I was sick — I felt fine. My mother always told me when I was sick. On this occasion, apparently, I was very ill, so my mother took me to the emergency room. While there, doctors and nurses gave me liquid medicine — yuck! (To this day, I’d rather be sick than take liquid medicine). They also ran a battery of tests, which included breathing treatments with a nebulizer. Eventually, it was decided that I needed to be admitted to the hospital until my condition improved.
Upon hearing that I wouldn’t be going home with my mother that night, I became inconsolable. I cried and cried, mostly because I was scared. Since being in the emergency room, I had been stuck with needles, given yucky medicine, and forced to breathe into a whacky contraption — and this was all while my mother was present. What would they do to me when she’s not around?
My father had to leave work to come and see about me. By this time, all I wanted to do was go home and be with my parents and my little sister. Besides, at that time, the only time that I didn’t sleep at home, was when I was with my grandparents.
My First Hospital Experience
A while later, nurse took me, by wheelchair, to the room that I would spend the next five days in. I was given a backless gown that was decorated with cartoon characters, and placed in an adjustable hospital bed. My parents had calmed me down, a little. Shortly after regaining some level calm, an evil nurse came into the room with a needle. As she stuck the needle into my hand, I screamed as though she was sawing me in half! She taped my hand up and tried to comfort me, to no avail. It was decided: I HATED THAT PLACE!
The next morning, before my mother arrived, a doctor came into my room and shoved a popsicle stick down my throat, and then made me breathe into the horrible contraption, that left a salty taste in my mouth. He turned out to be rather friendly and told me that I was doing well, and if I continued to do so, I could go home soon.
Over the next few days, I had many visitors, most of whom came bearing gifts. My classmates had made “Get Well Soon” cards for me, and soon, I was well enough to go home.
When I think back on that experience, I am certain that the smiles and love that I received from the multitude of people who visited me, as well as the cards that my classmates made, were instrumental to my recovery.
Smile On, Pass It On
As a Customer Service Agent, I get plenty of chances to give back to the Universe the love and kindness that I was given while in the hospital. For example:
Hip Hop Changed The Day
A customer called, in need of a rental car, because his had broken down (I think he said that it was his transmission). Although he was very upset, he struggled to stay cordial with me. I understand how it is when car trouble strikes. I’ve been there several times. When I asked the customer what kind of vehicle he preferred, he responded, “I don’t care. Gimme a goat wearing Jordans, as long as it will get me to work tomorrow“. I said to him, “Oh, you’re a Nike man. My goat would have to be wearing Shell Toes. I’m an Adidas woman and an old school Hip Hop Head. Wearing Adidas is how I pay homage to the culture“. This lead to almost 20 minutes of dialogue about Hip Hop. We talked about who are the greatest MC’s, the evolution of Hip Hop, and where it is (or isn’t) today.
My calls are only supposed to be four minutes long; but I didn’t care. During the course of the call, that customers demeanor had changed from irritable to relaxed. I could hear his smile through his voice. If only for a moment, he wasn’t thinking about his transmission or the unexpected expense of fixing his car or renting one. He felt better…if only for a little while.
Bye Bye Dirty South, Hello Hollywood!
On another day, I was helping a lady whose car had broken down, leaving her stranded at work. This woman was VERY unhappy. As I began gathering information from her, I noticed a mild Bostonian accent, albeit, she was making her reservation in North Carolina. “Oh, she must be a transplant “, I figured. By what should have been the middle point of the call, the Bostonian accent was becoming more and more Southern as her anger increased. Then, mid-sentence, she noticed that her Southern drawl had slipped into her Northern vernacular, and she said, “DAMN IT! Now that damned Southern dialect has come out! I’ve got to get out of the South!”. She didn’t know that she was preaching to the choir at that point.
On top of the frustration of having to repair one car and rent another, she had disappointed herself by allowing her environmental Southern accent to reveal itself.
“You from Boston?” I asked. She responded “Yes“. I told her that I’m from Michigan, and that I also live in the South now. I shared with her that I have the same problem — sometimes I sound Southern, and when I do, I immediately check myself. We talked about how we don’t care for the conformist South, and are looking forward to leaving it in the rear view. She and I laughed about it and continued with the reservation.
Just before ending the call, I asked her where she plans on living after she escapes the “Dirty South“, she said “LA“. I said:
OH MY GOD!!! I’m moving to Los Angeles!
After laughing and talking about our “California Love“, I said to her, “We are going to run into each other in ‘LA-LA Land‘. We’ve never seen each other, and most likely, won’t even remember each other’s names, but our spirits will recognize each other. It’s destined“. She agreed, and we ended the call.
When that call began, the customer was fit to be tied. By the end of the call, she and I had found common ground — TWICE. Before the call ended, she was laughing and smiling. Even if only temporarily, she wasn’t thinking about the problems at hand.
Offer Smiles, Not Counsel
When someone is having a bad day, or has just gotten bad news, the last thing that they want is counsel! Most likely, you’re not going to say anything that they don’t already know or haven’t heard before. There is a time for counsel, and that time is never at the onset of a problem. Advising too soon only makes it worse, as it resembles being a “know it all“.
During my five day hospital stay, I saw that people loved and cared enough about me to take time out of their day to sit with me, and classmates cared enough to spend their art time (which is huge in second grade) making cards for me. Since this would not be my last time spending a week in the hospital for asthma (it happened again the next year), the next stay was much easier, because I knew what to expect, and I knew that people loved me enough be there (and because I knew that they’d bring gifts!).
My customers called with anger in their voices, as car trouble has the ability to ruin anyone’s day. When they learned that they were speaking to someone who, although detached to their situations, cared enough to take advantage of a chance to get their minds off of their troubles for a while, they felt temporary relief.
Smiles And Laughter Are Contagious
As we travel this planet, we are often offered the grand opportunity to brighten someone else’s day. The tiniest gestures — things that we probably don’t even know that we’re doing, can make someone else forget about their troubles for a while. A simple smile can remind a person that there are always possibilities. Small gestures of kindness can garner big results.
Give love as you are receptive of love!
“We all have our up and down days, but it’s not hard to smile and say thank you.”
~Yvette Nicole Brown