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Dinner Diversion

Tonight is On-Call at the hospital.  It's been a long day of CPE already with clinical visitations, verbatims and IPR (inter-personal relations, which is its own story in itself).  I was grateful for the respite of the cafeteria to get food and try to lose my mind in sports (the TV viewing area for the World Cup is still set up, although sports seemed pre-occupied with "LeBron-a-thon.")

I'd finished eating and was starting to read The Rt. Rev. Katherine Jefferts Shori's book, A Wing and a Prayer.  A petite older woman with blonde hair, wearing tan scrubs, and speaking with a french accent, approached and asked quietly if she could sit near me.  I welcomed her.  The reason, which caught me a bit off-guard, was that she was terrified of the blacks already sitting around the TV viewing area (hanging on every report about LeBron James' decision).  She said she needed to sit near a caucasian.  I began to wonder just I'd gotten myself in, but could not have imagined where this was headed.

This seemingly kind woman, with weary face and shifting eyes, proceeded to tell me about being stalked by a man for 10 years.  She is convinced he has people EVERYWHERE watching her every move, and attempting to do her harm if they secretly can.  (I remembering wondering what kind of psychological profiling they do for hospital workers, especially folks who work in her area.)  But it sounded scary, and it felt scary, especially when other folks she worked with (all of them black) came into the cafeteria.  She seemed certain they were keeping tabs on her. 

Life has brought her from France and via the west coast to the east coast.  She hopes to retire in a few years someplace in the NW USA or Canada.  Her story then took on the aire of a conspiracy theory caper, complete with her rinsing cups, utensils and other items before using them, fearing they had been tampered with or laced with poison.  She combs the internet to support or confirm her suspicions of worry, trouble and woe, believing this "black mafia ring" which follows her has infiltrated the police, and fire and rescue services where she lives and works.  Through it all, I just tried to sit calmly and listen carefully.

Once she'd finished her food, and went to leave, I was almost at a loss for words.  I think I mustered a "take care and be safe."  Yet I do not know that I believe her.  It is more likely that I don't want to believe her.  But, sadly, this is her reality and she is living fully into all of it.  I only hope and pray she is mistaken or wrong, troubled without reason, and not in any kind of real danger such as she described. 

She didn't seem to need anything more from me but shelter as she ate.  A safe haven.  A gentle harbor.  I pray she will be okay.

Comments

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(Anonymous)
Jul. 10th, 2010 09:24 pm (UTC)
That was quite an experience. You handled it very well. I think all she needed at that moment was someone to listen to her story and to provide a safe haven for her to enjoy her meal as much as possible. You did that well. From what you shared, she was not looking for anyone to try to help her with her problem but just to listen. God's peace and blessing. Love, Dad
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )