Wednesday, September 15, 2010

All in a Day's Work

They were just doing their jobs.

That's one way of looking at my experiences with two people to whom I wrote this week. But the way N, an airline customer service agent, effectively yet unknowingly talked me out of a panic was nothing short of brilliant. And M, the first nurse I encountered on the mother-baby unit after having my son, is quite simply an angel.

N answered the phone on a fateful day in March 2005 when I called United Airlines--on the way to the airport, no less--to confirm I indeed had a last-minute ticket to Chicago purchased on a discount travel site.

You had the unenviable task of telling me that I didn't have a seat--that the online deal had not gone through. I was crushed, and you must have known, because you were so kind. You told me to hold a minute and you would see what you could find. I was starting to panic at the prospect of not being able to make the trip, but something in your voice, your calm and reassuring way, kept me believing that things might still work out.

Things worked out. N found me a ticket--at a cost no more than the discount site, even--and I made it to Chicago. To see, as it would turn out, the man who would one day become my husband and the father of my child.

Now I realize that in some ways you were just doing your job--you looked in the system, found a ticket and sold it to me. But, like I said, your calming manner made all the difference in the world to me at that point. I never told you during the call why I needed the ticket, but you knew somehow that there was emotional urgency and did your job with exceeding kindness.

When the aforementioned child was born last year, M was there to reassure and guide one exhilarated-but-exhausted mommy.

All the things you had to walk me through--particularly all that bathroom stuff--you did it with such kindness and patience. It takes a special kind of person to be a nurse, and you are that kind of person. At such a moment, when the new mommy is so physically and emotionally fragile (in a good way, but still fragile) she needs a reassuring voice and steady hand to guide her. And mommies at your hospital are so lucky to have you. Thank you, thank you, thank you for all you did to make me comfortable and able to enjoy every awe-filled moment with my new baby ... I know you were just doing your job, but you do it really well.

If there is one thing I love about The Letter Jar project, it's how my eyes are opened all the time to new sources of blessings. By reflecting upon random acts of kindness and grace encountered in the past, often in the course of short interactions with people during their workdays, I am ever more able to recognize--and not wait nearly so long to acknowledge--blessings in the present.

SINCERELY SWELL: I'm delighted to have discovered the letter-writing blog Sincerely Lauren. In a recent interview on another of my favorite letter blogs, 365 Letters, Lauren answers the question, "What is your favorite letter?"

Lauren: "Any letter that is sent to me.  I'm not picky.  I do like longer letters, but beggars can't be choosers."

Write on!

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