“So you’re a nurse in the hospital?” he asked, biting into his appetizer.
We were at a dinner celebrating the accomplishments of some pretty amazing people, all affiliated with the hospital. Thus, it wasn’t surprising he assumed I worked there too.
“I am, but now I work in the community full time,” I explained.
He blinked, a bit bewildered.
“When people lose their job, become uninsured, and they’re forced to go to a different clinic because their old doctor only takes private insurance, it’s not their fault, you know? Or when refugees are resettled in the States and they’re traumatized from war, can’t speak English, and get lost in the healthcare system, they need a place to go that understands them. Or the at risk, teen mothers who might not be able to afford the best hospital around….to me, I think they still deserve to have the best healthcare. Because if they can’t afford the best, or it’s unaccessible to them, then you have to go to them, to be where they are.” Well, that’s the way I see it.
“We need more people like you,” he nodded, like he understood it. Or seemed to.
I ain’t fishin’ for compliments… just doin’ what I do, yo.
~ ~ ~
I dreadfully looked out the window. Today, the clouds were gray and angry, sheets of heavy rain crashing down. This is going to get ugly.
Fearlessly, I bolted out the door, jumping right into the rainfall. I cannot believe I don’t have an umbrella!!!!
I spotted one of my coworkers at the bus stop and quickly ran over to join her.
“You catchin’ the bus too?” She asked.
“Yea… I cannot believe I took my umbrella out of my backpack, thinking I wouldn’t need it today!” I lamented aloud. The wind grew fierce, whipping belts of rain upon us, shoving me forward. I quickly grabbed a pole before getting blown away. My coworker laughed at me, but I could barely hear her chuckles over the pouring rain.
“Can you believe…we be the only ones out here, standing out here like this?” she sighed. “Everyone else has a car and is already at home. While we wait here like this. NOT ONE person offered to drop us off at a train station, or nothin’! Even though you know they be drivin’ right by it! It’s ‘good mornin,’ ‘hi,’ ‘how you doin,’ ‘bye!’ Then out the door they go.”
Giiirrrlll…. tell me about it.
“We come ALL THE WAY OUT HERE and no one even offers.. we be the only ones waitin’!” She fumed. She too, had worked in the hospital. In fact, she had to commute even farther than me. We both had to hop on that train, then that bus, to ride over here, into the ghetto…
My mind lingered over the conversation I had just a few days ago. How my friend’s husband had said, “we need more people like you.”
But no one would want to be like us right now!
Soaked in our scrubs, we continued waiting, for what seemed like forever. Huge, dirty puddles splashed towards us as cars zipped by. Everyone else safely protected in their cars, going upon their way, doin’ their thing.
Suddenly, it felt very lonely.
~ ~ ~
It was a long bus ride. The cars lulled at all the traffic stops, the weather slowing down the traffic. Usually on my rides home, I read, write, or take a nap. But today, I found myself looking out the window.
The bus descended slowly down a hill. Upon the descent, I glanced upwards, out the window, and caught the tops of the trees. It was the first time I had noticed how beautiful everything was… how the endless trees gathered in layers, upon the gentle, rolling hills. How the greenery seemed all the more vibrant today, against a gray backdrop. How the sky lured me out of the bus, inviting me to daydream amongst this lovely place.
On the surface, I was cold, tired, and drenched, on a clammy bus. But in my mind, I had been transported into the lush, verdant hills of Hawaii. Hills that had been painfully carved out by erosion and water, over thousands of years, leaving behind something the mind cannot envision until it is seen. I imagined the vast, blue, ocean towards my right, lapping up against black sanded beaches and rocky cliffs. As the bus turned, I imagined a steep drive, winding carefully, thoughtfully around a mountain, being as unobtrusive as possible, as to not disturb the natural rainforest and its inhabitants. Tropical red flowers speckled the green hills. The wind carried freedom in the air. Bamboo trees swayed in the distance. These sweet memories brought a smile to my face.
And before I knew it, the ride was over, we had arrived at the bus station. I jumped on the next train towards home.
Emerging from the subway, I was pleasantly surprised.
It had stopped raining.
The clouds departed.
The skies opened.
And the sun glowed, shining ever so brightly, into the horizon.