He walked into the doctor’s office pushing his walker with the little tennis balls on the legs so it would move faster.
“Good Morning!” he boomed to no one in particular. Those of us with fevers and tissues avoided eye contact.
I was suddenly fascinated with my book, terrified that this happy little man would zero in on me. I’d been sitting in this office for over two hours with a high fever. Happiness was not high on my list of priorities.
He approached the nurse who favored Nurse Ratched, both in her demeanor and the grim expression cut in the stone of her face.
“Well, what a pleasant face to gaze upon,” he said with all sincerity. I saw the corners of her mouth turn up slightly, and her demeanor softened.
“I’m here for my 10:30 appointment young lady, so tell me how I can make this easiest for you,” he continued.
“Just sign in right here,” she said, “and I’ll get with you shortly.”
“Well, aren’t you the biggest help? Thank you. I will do just that,” he said in response.
His spine was slightly bent, and he shuffled towards me in a way that showed the pain of every step. My eyes were glued to the page I had read at least three times since he walked in.
“What are you in for?” he asked me.
I could avoid him no longer. “Tick bite,” I said. “For some reason I’m really allergic to them.” I looked at his cloudy eyes that still sparkled. He smiled in a way that warmed me like a cup of hot tea on a cold afternoon.
“I hope the doc helps you feel better,” he said, patting my knee. Suddenly, I wanted to pat his hand just to return the contact.
“Thank you,” I said with completely sincerity. My anxiety relaxed under his gaze. I felt like I was sitting on a front porch with my best friend instead of in a cold, dingy waiting room.
The moment I had been dreaming about for two hours finally occurred when a nurse opened the door and called my name.
“You take care, young lady,” he said.
“You too,” I responded, and we both smiled at each other.
I didn’t see him when I left the doctor’s office, but I can tell you that he changed my attitude and my day.
If you want to change someone’s day in 10 seconds or less, it’s as easy as:
The interaction between this older gentleman and me was brief, but the impact was tremendous. I know his pain was greater than mine, yet he focused on me.
And, even though it was only a moment, my spirit is better for having known him.
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