Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Inner Workings.

Joe, shared with permission.

I was sitting at the nurses' station writing my notes last weekend and I see one of the patient transporters going past me pushing a gurney. He is laughing out loud and so full of light that it's infectious. There was another transporter on the hall, too--significantly older than he was. She put her hand on her hip and teased him, "Now what you doing parking this bed on this side of the hall like that? That's like driving on the wrong side of the street, chile!"

And "chile" was a good word since he was young and fresh-faced. His attitude was so jovial and light that this didn't bother him one bit. "What? This isn't London?" he replied with his best pseudo-British accent. "In Europe this is the right side of the road!"

"Are we in London?" She kept that hand on her voluptuous hip and this time added a little neck roll for emphasis. "Baby, this Rome. You got to do what the Romans do. So this where you park your bed while you wait. You with me?"

"With you!" he announced.

Then they both laughed together, loud and hearty.

That woman had to be old enough to be his mother. Skin of a rich espresso and super fancy hair-dos every time I see her--an ironic yet lovely contrast to the brown hospital issued scrub uniform she wears and the oft times dirty work that she does. I've seen her around Grady for years, so she's a good person for that "chile" to apprentice under. Not only is she pleasant and hardworking, she knows how to get things done the right way.

He seemed to know that.

Interestingly, this young guy with his boyish face and witty humor couldn't have been more different than she. His skin was as pale as hers was brown and his stick straight hair was buzzed down low--not fancy at all. But this guy? I'd never seen before.

"Are you new to Grady? I hadn't seen you before."

"Yes! I've only been here for a month!" His voice was as chipper--just like it was with his fellow transporter.

"Well welcome to Grady! I'm Dr.Manning!"

"Hi Dr. Manning! My name is Joe!"

Joe reached over the counter and shook my hand hard and deliberate. I smiled in return.

Turns out that Joe just graduated from college. He'd been pre-med and was studying for the MCAT in preparation for medical school entry--"as we speak." He even showed me a stack of flash cards he was carrying around in his pocket to prove it. While waiting to go to medical school, Joe told me that he'd had a few opportunities to "shadow" physicians in offices and such, but sought out this experience instead.

A job as a patient transporter in Grady Hospital. For a whole year.


"A transporter? Wow. What a smart thing to do!" I said.

"Thanks. I guess I just kind of wanted to see the inner workings, you know?"

And I nodded because I do know. And then I nodded again because it took me a long time to know that the "inner workings" is one of those things that you cannot, cannot, cannot learn in the class room. You just have to be there in the trenches paying attention. I wished I'd realized that as early as he did.

"Joe? I think you already have something figured out that a lot of doctors are still trying to find out."

And Joe just smiled in response to that. His pager went off so he bid me adieu. Then he stepped on the brake release of that giant rolling bed and prepared to back it into the room. A few moments later I saw him whisking a patient down the hall en route to ultrasound. Once the wheels gained momentum, he raised a hand and waved in my direction.

"Nice to meet you, Dr. Manning!"

"See you around, Dr. Joe!"


Hey Joe. . . did you know? You, too, are now a part of those inner workings. Thanks for that.

This? This, too, is Grady.

Happy Wednesday.


  1. Sweet. Very, very sweet. If Joe does decide to go on and become a doctor, he will have vast knowledge that the others do not. Also? Angels on his side.

  2. Joe's smile is infectious, it is. Wonder if he knows how lucky he is to meet you??

    1. Outside of thinking I was crazy for asking him if I could take his photo to use on my blog, I think he had some idea. Not of how lucky he was but more like, "Who DOES that?" Fortunately, he was a good sport.

  3. Wow. Talk about a decision that will pay off in more ways than he can probably imagine right now. I hope he does go on to become a doctor... something tells me he will be a good one. :)

    1. comment below was supposed to be a reply to you, Cathy! :)

  4. I know, right? What a smart (and brave) decision. Kind of like when you went to live in Nigeria. Some people are just hard-wired to make brave decisions.

    Good running into you on the elevator today! :)

  5. This will be the best on the job training he will ever get especially if he takes the time to learn from everyone from the nutrition aides, the housekeeper, the maintenance staff , the NURSES (had to do that) to the patients most of all. It will be an top notch education for sure.

  6. Joe is one smart cookie and knowing he can learn something valuable from everyone is something most people never learn. I wish him the very best and believe that he will go on to become a fantastic doctor! Best to you, Dr. Joe! Thank you for letting Dr. Manning share your story. (Being a handsome young man doesn't hurt his smile.) *grins*

    Jae in Clayton, NC


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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