The Fragrance of Caring

Cupcakes! photo: jparadisi

Hospitals are not known for their fragrance, and recent shifts in particular have lacked delicate bouquet. It comes with the territory, and if I wanted a perfumed environment, I should have chosen a profession that doesn’t include the collection and measurement of body fluids. People with sensitive stomachs should think twice before becoming nurses. Whining about poop and vomit belongs in the “Well What Were You Thinking It Would be Like?” file.

If you require regular and predictable hours for happiness, nursing is not the career for you either. Shifts are unexpectedly extended because of late admissions, acute changes in patient conditions (read EMERGENCIES!!!), short staffing, etc.  In the past weeks, I have left work late for these reasons. Poop, vomit, EMERGENCY! I’m not complaining. This is what I am educated to do. I am proud to be a nurse with the necessary skills to lead patients through their dark moments.

Recently, I came home from a particularly long, smelly shift to find a UPS slip stuck to my door, informing me that a package required my signature IN-PERSON for delivery. The package was my birthday gift from David. I worked the following few days, so I called the UPS customer service number and arranged package pick-up. There was enough time left to pick up the package that evening. Since the gift was from David, he wanted to go get it, even though he’d also worked a longer than expected shift that day. We changed out of our smelly work clothes, and hopped into the car to get the package.

Traffic was horrendous. It was raining, and getting dark. I told David it wasn’t important; we could pick up the package the next day, but he was on a mission. When we finally arrived, it was twenty minutes past the office’s closing time. Surprisingly, the light was on, and the door unlocked. A smiling woman stood at the counter, holding my package. “Are you Paradisi?” she asked. “Yes, I am. Are you waiting for me?” “Yes,” the woman said. “I didn’t want you to drive all this way and find us closed, not in the traffic and weather.”  She extended her shift to take care of me, as I had done during my shift to take care of someone else. It is the essence of excellent customer service: the fragrance of caring, and the gift of time.