The Season of Poverty and Thanksgiving

Street Art (unknown artist) photo: jparadisi

You know it’s going to be a long shift when you open your first chart of the morning, and the doctor’s orders are written on a Post-It.

I admit it: I’m feeling kind of overwhelmed this week. November begins what I fondly dub “The Season of Poverty.” I’m not really impoverished. It just feels that way in November, as soon as the property tax bill arrives, followed by Thanksgiving, a couple of family members birthdays, then Christmas, then more family members birthdays clear through the end of February. *  Before spinning out of control, I remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and regain my perspective. Holiday anxiety is a luxury.

In the midst of this angst, something happened last week and I keep replaying it in the YouTube of my mind.

I was walking on a downtown street, minding my own business, when seemingly out of no where a man walked up to a metal street sign and, with his bare fist, slammed it with such violence I thought he was going to bend it. Shouting obscenities, he hit it again and again, barely a few feet in front of me. I froze where I stood, looking for the nearest exit to safety, as the man came forward in my direction. From behind, a woman wearing dirty clothes said, “Ma’am, come here, behind this chain,” as she lifted the chain blocking off a driveway. Grateful, I did as directed, waiting until the man I was afraid of passed by.

That’s it, nothing more. But I keep thinking about the concern this woman showed for my safety. If someday she seeks help in the emergency department of a hospital or becomes a patient, I hope she receives the same concern and courtesy she gave to me. She didn’t judge me by my clothes for not belonging in her neighborhood. She did not think that I deserved to suffer violence for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. She simply extended safety to me.

Happy Thanksgiving.

*Dr. Dean Burke offers financial advice to nurses at The Millionaire Nurse Blog.

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