“You ova by twenty cents, but it OOOOOkay,” said the pleasant Vietnamese woman who ran the cafeteria cash register. She was one of the nicest ladies I ever met, and in exchange for her kindness I sat and listened to the stories of her home country.
Ellen was just as nice. She had two grown children and we chatted about them often.
Then there was Melissa, a large woman who always cut my grilled chicken into perfect pieces for my salad.
And Lawanda, the janitor that let me in when I had forgotten my hospital ID.
Though we praise the doctors, nurses, and other health professionals that work in hospitals, there are many employees who are just as critical and don’t get the thanks they deserve. The maintenance staff, janitorial crew, and cafeteria workers, just to name a few. I regularly chat with them, because, well, they are typically extremely interesting people. However, they can also dramatically improve your hospital experience.
There were many times I was running late and didn’t get charged for my coffee. Days when I got extra helpings because I looked like a “starving medical student.” Each time I had any kind of technical problem it was readily fixed.
Let me be clear - I am not saying you should be nice to people because of what they have to offer you. I am saying, being kind often pays off in unexpected ways. I would be friendly with the hospital staff regardless of any “perks.” But in my experience they are typically seen as “sub-employees,” belittled by medical staff for each mistake they make. This thinking makes no sense to me. Hospitals would flounder without the employees who serve as its foundation.
It’s hard to be a good doctor in a dilapidated, unclean building that does not serve food.
Hospital Pro Tip: Make friends with the non-clinical staff at the hospital. They are the people that can make your life much easier.
3561 N. Fed. Hwy.
Pompano Beach, Fla.
Tel. WH 1-3214
Mailed from Pompano Beach, Florida to Mrs. Louis Miller of Brooklyn, New York on January 31, 1969:
Just to let you know, I received your letter and thank you for all the news from the store, sorry to hear about Mary. I am trying to catch up with my mail, I have so much. Write to four sons, we’re having lovely weather. Give my best regards to Giles & all the gang when you see them. Sincerely, Harriet.