Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Directions to Gallantry

Following bad directions and finding myself in the wrong building, I wander about until I see a desk with someone behind it. I inquire as to where I can find a certain person.

"Oh, how nice. And who is he?"

She says this in a very condescending tone. I'm asking a simple question and I'm being polite. Great.

"He's a patient."

"Well, he wouldn't be in this building," she says as she rolls her eyes. "I'll find out for you."

She dials patient information and as she waits for someone to pick up, she just bothers me more.

"So, what's he here for?"

"I don't know..."

"Must not be too close a friend, huh? You don't seem to know much about him."

What the...??!! "He's my grandfather. I just got word..."

Her other phone rings and she mutters, "Figures."

Now she is talking on one phone while handing the first one to another woman who has just walked up. Her smile is genuine and kind. I like her already. The first one is now berating someone with a shipping company. It's the same infantalizing tone she gave me.

I was madder earlier, but now I am past it. This is nothing personal. She's just a bad egg or she's a good person having a rotten day. The second woman has found my info and is graciously giving me directions. And I am off to visit my grandfather. He's sick again and it seems that the worst is expected. But then he looked a bit better than I was preparing myself for. Weak but stable, and certainly in good care.

He's a gentleman, through and through. There are a lot of wonderful men and women in my family, but it's he who has set the bar so high in my eyes. He's a hero for his accomplishments and he's a hero for his humility and kindness. I still learn about how to be a man when I watch him interact with strangers. Whether it's the Fox 17 news reporter who interviewed him a couple of years ago about his days piloting a B-24 bomber in WWII or the nurse who is asking him critical questions today about his health, he always exemplifies the best virtues of humankind.

Gracious, humble and polite, it doesn't seem to ever cross his mind to talk down to another human being. The kind nurse asks him yet another question and he answers, "Yes, ma'am" or "No, ma'am." Twenty hours in a railed hospital bed too short for his long, tall body, with every excuse for extreme grumpiness, and he's still the man I'm so proud to know.

This, in such contrast with the woman who appeared to take such pleasure in letting me feel her annoyances with me. I hope she settles down with her little attitude. It was so unnecessary.


Leesa said...

That sucks she made you feel that way, especially at an emotional time. She's obviously working in the wrong place.
It's sad when others spread their own unhappiness.

You wrote a beautiful tribute to your grandfather. I'll be thinking of him and your family in this emotional time.

Lynnster said...

I think some people are more than likely just bad eggs. Sort of like Leesa said, unhappy people who are compelled to spread their own unhappiness.

I was somewhere recently where I had to have my hand stamped with an ultraviolet stamp for security reasons. I got to the next "checkpoint" and the worker who was supposed to be checking the hand stamps was all surly to begin with and when I hesitated for a second because I couldn't remember which hand got stamped, she was all sarcastic and sneering and goes, "You don't remember?" It was early in the morning, I was in a hurry to do what I had to do, and the last thing on my mind was what freakin' hand had been stamped. There was just no excuse for her attitude, period.

I had a couple more run-ins with her attitude before the day was over. Everyone else at that facility is just as nice and pleasant as they can be. Consequently, I am probably going to write a letter to the administrator of the facility and suggest that that person not be allowed to work in areas where they have to deal with the general public. Not only is her attitude improper, but it reflects poorly on the facility as a whole. I'm not usually one to make a lot of waves about things like this, but sometimes I think it's important like in this case. And having been a manager myself, I know sometimes they're not aware of problems and problem people unless you tell them.

Anyway, your grandfather sounds like a wonderful man and I'm sorry you are all going through this. I will be keeping you and him and your family in thoughts and prayers right now.

john h said...

great contrast, Michael. It's really amazing sometimes what one or two kind words mean, along with a gentle smile.

Wishing your grandfather, and you, the best...

jag said...

I'm so guilty of being the bad egg at times...these reminders to be kind are much needed.

Thinking of you and your grandfather.

gnightgirl said...

Your Grandfather sounds like a real gentleman.

And you're too too kind to the clerk you encountered. Her boss would be opening a very polite but terse letter from me about right now.

melusina said...

I, too, can be a "bad egg" sometimes.

Thank you, or rather thank your wonderful grandfather, for reminding me I shouldn't.

My blessings for you and your family during this difficult time.