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Archive for December, 2017

This Little Light

Long ago in another life, I worked in a fairly large medical facility. Most of the people I worked the closest with were smart and educated women, and we all worked well together doing what we did best: Taking care of the sickest of the sick.  Penny Sue, our housekeeper,  was sweet, kind, and did her job well. She was also not the brightest candle in the box, if you know what I mean. Does that sound condescending? In the stupidity of my youth, I could be rather condescending, and I am almost too ashamed to admit it. Doctor Handyman was a generation older than most,  called us “Honey” or “Sugar”, and was always just a little too familiar as he made his daily rounds.  It seemed he was always squeezing an elbow or patting a knee, and it wasn’t a comfortable feeling. In fact, it gave me the creeps.  I wasn’t the only one who felt that way, and we rolled our eyes and pretended  to be extra busy when he was there so we wouldn’t have to sit next to him as we wrote in our charts. It was easier to hide than it was to confront the discomfort. On one particular day that I will never forget, we were all busy taking care of patients and Penny Sue was sitting at the counter, spraying disinfectant and wiping it down. I didn’t see it happen,  but I heard a yell and a rather loud slap, so I ran into the hallway. Dr. Handyman, red-faced and angry, stomped off and headed down to administration. Penny Sue, also red-faced, told us what happened through her tears. The good doctor had taken a seat beside her, reached out, and grabbed her leg. She told him to stop, and when he didn’t immediately, she slapped him. Certain she would lose her job, Penny Sue wondered how she would manage to pay her bills. One by one, we comforted her. One by one, we told her our stories. We would stand beside her and tell the stories, and we assured her that there is strength in numbers.  She wondered why nobody had said anything before. Nobody.  I can’t speak for the others, but I couldn’t even begin to give her an answer and silently asked myself the same question.  I don’t know what was said in administration that day, but I can tell you that Penny Sue continued to work and continued to do it well…even better…than before. It seemed that she worked with a confidence that we had never seen or perhaps never noticed. Dr. Handyman was a little more subdued when he made his daily rounds, called us by name, and never touched any of us again. I have thought of this story often over the last several weeks, especially when I hear others ask the same question that Penny Sue did that day.  I learned a  good lesson from this and have carried it with me all these years: Sometimes the brightest candle in the box isn’t the one that you might think, but even if the light is small, it will help you find your way along the path that you were always meant to follow.  Speak up, friends, and I will stand beside you. 

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