The other day a customer asked me if there were any cases of almond milk in backstock. I’m not a grocery team member, but I am one of the longest standing team members at the store, so I know my way around the other departments. I offered to go look for the almond milk.
I set out at a brisk pace, a sense of urgency licking at my heels. I really wanted to help this woman find her almond milk.
As I was bursting through the back hall doors, a memory sliced through my focus –
I was working in the IMCU ward at a Legacy hospital.
A lady was rolled in, SOB with blue-tinged lips. She was asthmatic.
The nurses had her hooked up to 6 L of O2, and even though that’s a lot, she wasn’t getting enough air.
One of the nurses turned to me. “Beth, go find another hook up for the O2!”
I ran through the ward, searching for a spare hook up, but I wasn’t finding anything.
Panic set in.
I approached the last room.
In TV shows and movies, the protagonist always finds what they need at the last possible second, so I just knew that the hook up would be in the last room. The lady was dying and I needed this hook up.
I looked and looked, but there was nothing I could use in the last room. That woman was going to die because of me.
I ran back to tell the nurse I couldn’t find a hook up, hoping that the lady was still alive, and I discovered that someone had already found one.
The lady and nurses looked at me…
I was on the outside now. I wasn’t a part of the saving of her life. I felt useless. This would be a feeling I would encounter over and over again in my six years of working in the medical field.
I didn’t find the woman’s almond milk case either.
I walked purposefully back to tell the almond milk lady that I couldn’t find her case. I wasn’t panicked. I knew she wasn’t going to die because I couldn’t find it for her.
Perhaps working at a grocery store isn’t as noble as saving lives, but when I told the lady that we didn’t have any almond milk in backstock, she didn’t look at me with with the terror of her imminent death. She didn’t expect me to save her life.
It was just groceries. And you know what? I didn’t feel as useless.