Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Random Acts Of Kindness

I was reading a post at The Average American yesterday about a gentleman that bought lunch for some servicemen on a flight and I was reminded of an incident we had in the emergency room I work in. The blog by American is incredible by the way and all readers are strongly encouraged to drop by and read it.

Anyways, this incident happened a couple of years ago. We have a bin that we put our pop bottles and cans in. One of the nurses takes them back periodically and cashes them in. For those outside of Michigan, we have a 10 cent deposit on bottles and cans.

We split the proceeds up for this. Half of the money goes to our fund for the Christmas party, etc. Half goes to pay for cab fare for people that need it. We are located in an area with a lot of homeless and most of the cab fare is spent to cab people to the shelters, especially when it is cold. Some of the money though will be spent on people that truly have a need, elderly stuck without a ride, etc.

We paid $11 for a man one night that was in the ER from out of town and did not have cash, only plastic. He was a professional that generally would not need help and was quite grateful for it. We thought nothing of it and went about our business.

The next day the man returned and gave us $110. He said he gave this specific amount because it was exactly ten times what we gave him, to him this seemed significant. He wanted us to put the money into the fund to help other people, which we did.

We work in a tough part of town. Our ER can be a war zone. I have been punched, kicked, bitten, and have heard the F word spewed at me unstopping for long, long periods of time. We have had staff injured from assaults. I have walked out to my car at night and there was a man down in the street shot.

We are considered the charity hospital. The population of patients I often work with are, let‘s say, a little different. People that live off of the public dole and are indignant when they feel they are not getting their money’s worth are the norm.

Now let me say, I work here intentionally. I like our mission to help the poor. I like working with the underserved and actually enjoy a lot of the indigent patients I work with. It’s just frustrating to work with some of the people I come in contact with.

Anyways, to say this man’s actions were something we were not used to is a bit of understatement. We’re used to ingratitude or at best begrudging thanks. We’re used to people that expect handouts and therefore have become a little jaded about the whole thing. To have this man go out of his way to return a favor restores a little faith. To have him repay the money was something we, as far as I know, have never had before. To have him repay it tenfold to help others was definitely a new experience. We talked about this man for days, it gave the staff quite a lift. I still think of this man from time to time when I am paying for someone’s cab fare.


Papa Frank said...

It sounds like he gave 10 times what you gave him but his kindness made a 100 fold impact on the staff. I'd say he got a good return on HIS money as well.

Mustang said...

I enjoyed reading this very much, Chuck. Most people are unaware how much abuse “angels of mercy” have to take in the process of taking care of people. I know it is more or less convention to blame this sort of behavior on the over-indulgence of alcohol and drugs, but I think it goes much beyond the stimulant. There is something seriously mentally deficient in people who “punch, and kick, and bite” the hand that nurtures them. So I am in awe of what you do Chuck, and I believe you will find your reward in heaven; as for those who abuse you . . . it is what happens when society becomes tolerant of unacceptable behaviors.

AP said...

Seriously, this is great stuff as usual.

Pistolmom said...

Great posts!

shoprat said...

So shines a good deed in a dark world. In total darkness a single candle shines so bright.

Flavor Country said...

With everything that our world is currently going through, with all the evil and selfishness that is rampant, it's good to hear a least one story of kindness.

It let's you know you are not alone, nice story.

DaBlade said...

That was very uplifting. What this man did, and what you and your coworkers do on a daily basis. Thanks for telling it!

mksviews said...

Good story Chuck, thanks for sharing that with us.

Chuck said...

PF, agreed

Mustang, very good insight. We talk about the same issues. How alcohol or drugs is not an excuse. I have the thought that there really are not "mean drunks" alcohol just lowers their inhibitions and an underlying personality emerges. I also agree with your assessment of how society has become tolerant of this behavior

AP, thanks

Shoprat, great quote

Flavor, you summed it up nicely, it helps restore a little faith.

DaBlade, we don't do much, some of these people would freeze to death if we couldn't do something.

MK, thanks

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

This is a wonderful story!

I think I read somewhere about a "code of conduct" where this person would do something to benefit someone else; but with a stipulation: that the beneficiary would go out and do 10 good deeds; and that if it involved helping someone, that the person was also asked to do 10 good deeds, and so on.