Friday, February 8, 2013

One hand in my pocket.

 "And what it all comes down to
is everything's gonna be fine, fine, fine
'cause I got one hand in my pocket
and the other is giving a high five."

~ Alanis Morissette

I stepped onto one of the Grady elevators the other day and ran into one of the cafeteria workers returning empty trays from the wards. I'd just left the nearby Subway restaurant and hoped the onions that I couldn't resist getting on my sandwich weren't as offensive as I imagined.

"Hey Miss Kimberly!"

"Hey there, pretty lady!"

Our exchange was easy and familiar because this was someone that I saw quite regularly around the hospital wards. Every single time I did, she was smiling and friendly. Without fail.

"Have y'all been busy?" she asked. The big metal cart was nearly blocking her entire body, but she still peered around it to exchange pleasantries. "We've been running like crazy!"

"Us, too," I responded. "Today was the first day that I made it to lunch in several days. Had me a subway special but probably should have passed on the onions!" I covered my mouth playfully.

"Come on, doc! How can you say no to onions?"

"I obviously can't! But they need to serve a combo with gum or mints in it."

We both chuckled. The doors opened on her floor and she began to shove off behind the heavy contraption in front of her. I instinctively stepped over to the key pad to push the "hold door open" button.

"Thanks, Miss Kim."


Just as she got through the door, she turned around and we simultaneously offered each other a nod and a hand wave. I turned my back against the elevator wall and daydreamed as the doors began to pull to a close. Suddenly a courageous hand slipped in between the automatic doors just before they could snap shut. Lucky for that person, the sensor quickly reversed the doors back open.

"Here you go, Miss Kimberly!"

I looked up, startled at both the clunky, abrupt door movements and hearing my name called. There she was--my elevator companion--leaning into the shaft with one hand securing the food cart still and the other handing me something. It didn't take me long to recognize that it was a pack of chewing gum.

"Oh! You're so sweet!" I scrambled to get the pack open and remove a stick as the elevator chimes began to impatiently buzz in protest.

She waved her hand and said, "Naw, baby. Just take the whole pack. I gots plenty!"

"N-n-no! Let me just take one--here!" With one piece in my hand, I fumbled to close the pack and try to hand it back. She laughed and pushed it back toward me.

"Every-since I quit smoking, I keep me some gum, so trust me I got a whole bunch in my locker. Plus you always nice to me when I see you so consider it a little gift."

Right after that, the doors closed and there I was. Alone with a brand new, full pack of gum in my hand.

Or rather, a "little gift."

For--in her words--"always being nice to me when I see you."

I tried not to think to much into that. Like wondering if that statement meant that "always being nice" wasn't the norm when it came to her interactions with physicians and nurses in hospital. But maybe it was and she'd simply taken the time to appreciate it.


And so. I put that pack of gum in my white coat pocket and vowed to see it as exactly that. And every time I reach into it, I'm reminded to also recognize all of the other little gifts around me every single day. . .

Like moments.
Like people.
Like smiles.

Like Grady.

Happy Friday.

Now playing on my mental iPod. . . .


  1. Those little acts of kindness and acknowledgements break my heart in a good way. Of course you're always nice to her, you're nice to everybody, and not many people are....

  2. People do notice when you're nice to them. And you get it back. Not just in little "gifts" but also in respect and support. It's like a little secret those of that are lucky have figured out. It's the easiest way I have found to get ahead at work - it really is.


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

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