My Dad spent 10 days at a Regional Hospital for back surgery, 35 days at an assisted living facility for rehabilitation, then returned home for 4 days. On day 5 at home, he fell on the concrete surface of our car port and broke his hip.
This was our 6th or 7th trip during this calendar year to the local Emergency Room.
There are some wonderful people working in this ER (apparently now known as an ED-Emergency Department) I now know a dozen or so of the staff by name. But the facility as a whole has a reputation locally as being slow, inefficient, and Doctors lacking medical diagnostic abilities (that last one is more of a personal opinion/observation).
After four hours, during which Dad had pain meds and x-rays, my wonderful teacher sister arrived at 8:00PM, to give me a dinner break, despite it being the night before the third day of a new school year.
I hurriedly left the hospital parking with but one mission…FOOD.
I ventured up Route 42 towards our little town’s fast food alley. Burger, burger, burger, taco, pizza.
Ah, an Arby’s Roast Beef Sandwich! That’s the ticket, as I took a right into their parking lot and continued into the drive-thru lane.
There were only two cars in the main parking lot and just one ahead of me in the drive-thru as I placed my order.
“That’ll be $4.18. Please drive to the second window”
I slowly pulled-up behind the only car ahead of me, a little tan-bronze Honda/Toyota sedan. Me being me, I started analyzing the car’s license plate.
I heard the girl speak to the male cashier, and then she pulled off into the darkness.
I pulled-up to the window, trying not to forget to ask for horsey-sauce.
I held out a five-dollar-bill as the cashier opened the window.
“There’s no charge. That lady just paid for your sandwich.”
And my head spun. I’ll bet that I look goofy when I’m totally confused.
“Did she know me?”
“I don’t think so. She heard me give you your total and she said $4.18? And then she paid me for yours”
“Do you want any sauce with that?”
“Yea, two packets of horsey-sauce”
When he reappeared at the window, we had a short moment of conversation. I couldn’t let it go, still dazed and confused.
“She had medical plates of some sort. I’m up here at the ER with my Dad. He broke his hip.”
“Ah, Man. That’s tough” as he leaned against the bottom of the drive-thru window and listened.
“Maybe it was that nurse that I had seen in the ER and then again in the hospital parking lot as she was going home.”
“It was probably that EMT who just made her sixth trip to our house this year ” (thinking of how her car wasn’t that impressive and she, of course, was a volunteer, like so many others in our community.)
I remember feeling guilty and looking in my rearview mirror for a car to ‘pay-it-forward’, but business was pretty much over for the night. I left the parking lot and reentered that Emergency Room, still confused from the drive-thru experience, but thrilled by how nice people can be to one another. I immediately told my story to my sister, and then later to three different nurses. All four women enjoyed my story told with excitement, but not a one was probably impressed because that’s what they do each day.
To my drive-thru angel: I don’t know you, probably never will. But I hope that this letter finds you. I am humbled and oh so thankful.
(A special thanks to all Fire, Rescue, and Medical Personel. We should never take you for granted, ESPECIALLY our volunteers)