In Someone Else’s Shoes
I’m at a beautiful resort in Miami. After being carted to my room, Miami style, I was happy to see that I had an enormous end room complete with an outdoor patio. I also noticed that there was a quaint lobby area outside my front door and the ice machine and maid’s closet were right on the other side of me.
So late last night when the party people came in I was not surprised. They were loud and happy so I tried to remember that I was at a resort and I tried to sleep before an early morning lecture. I found my way back to REM and was greeted with a party on the other side.
Then this morning I was awakened again; this time by the loud voices of the cleaning staff preparing for their day. Some spoke in English, some in Spanish and I was amazed that after so many years I could still hear my High School Spanish teacher’s drills. I could pick out the Puerto Rican accents from the Cuban dialect that was similar to that of my undergraduate professor, Dr. Martha Perez and I smiled as I remembered her arroz con pollo, pero, para mi; sin pollo.
I wanted to be angry. I wanted to call someone to tell them that at 3 a.m. This should not be, but then something wonderful happened; I took the role of the other.
I thought about having to leave your home and family so early in the morning to be at work. I thought of the bus ride to this remote area and I thought of the hard work that would be done throughout the day. With these thoughts in mind, I listened again and could hear that every one of those voices sounded happy. No one complained about the early morning job that had to be done. As I listened to the joy in their voices, I realized that it was time for me to be up anyway and so I laughed at myself.
I’m in Miami speaking to the Association of Healthcare Foodservice and I am reminded of how easy it is for the sick to complain about the one thing they think they can control; their hospital food. As I walked around yesterday and saw just some of the preparation and information that goes into the work that these amazing folks do, I realized how much we don’t see. There are classes and information on everything from ethics, contract negotiation, healthcare and safety to issues of environmental protection. These professionals don’t just need to know how to cook for the sick, they also have to know how to nourish and help them heal.
It’s easy to judge, complain and criticize the behavior of others when we don’t consider the lives and the work behind the work, but when you put yourself in their shoes, you can see so much better.
Today, take a look from the perspective of others and enjoy the view.
Be you, be well, SEE and be grateful
Bertice Berry, PhD.