We can learn so much from others.
One great benefit of my job as a nurse in an outpatient setting is that a vast array of different people come and go every day I am working.
Sickness is an amazing equalizer.
Butcher, baker or candlestick maker...
doctor, lawyer... you get the picture.
My patients are vulnerable, hurting or weak and I have the
privilege of treating them in an effort to improve their present condition.
And I totally believe in holistic nursing whereby I touch
body, soul and mind.
And that means talking and mostly listening.
This sharing is certainly not limited to a hospital IV infusion room.
We each have the wonderful opportunity of getting to know others
if we are willing to reach out and try.
Now, I must confess that I am often so tired from preparing for a trip
that I get my window seat and curl up (as much as one can
in a cramped airline seat) and go to sleep.
My back to the person next to me, my body language shouts,
"Leave me alone!"
But, once in awhile I make eye contact with a seatmate and a conversation ensues.
And I'm never sorry I did!
On the Seattle to Fairbanks flight, that's what happened.
This young man is from Moldova, an eastern European country
near Romania that used to be part of the USSR.
"A very small, poor agricultural country," he described in a thick accent.
His mother a teacher, father a farmer.
His father needed him to labor on the farm but understood his son wanted to expand his horizons by spending the summer in the US.
A sophomore in college near home, he is returning to Fairbanks
to work at the Pump House Restaurant for the second year.
I doubt his limited English skills could enable him to work
as a waiter and, indeed, his job is a busboy.
We chatted about the great restaurant and how my daughter
had her wedding dinner there 6 years ago.
He had been traveling for 2 days already
and was very tired on this last leg of his journey.
He spent over $2,000 for his fare.
He did not know where he would be living but had a friend who was
(hopefully) picking him up at the airport.
He was polite and pleasant and though I could not understand the
pronunciation of his name, he chatted comfortably.
I see him as brave.
(Although if he were mine I'd see him as reckless, I must admit.)
20 years old and venturing to a far off land, speaking another language.
Unsure of lodging, transportation and working a poorly paid job.
I wonder that his pay covers his air fare, never mind meals and housing.
But he recognizes the poverty back in Moldova
and wants more choices for his life.
His experience in America is limited to Fairbanks,
but he grins and speaks of how much money and opportunity
is here in America.
Our brief time on the flight caused me to ponder on all I take for granted.
Opportunities. Money. Security. Freedoms.
A sober pause to reflect on my life.
Thanks to a young college student far from home.