"That'll be $1.55. How you doing?" Every single morning for a month it was the same. While waiting for the attending to show up for rounds, I'd run down to the cafeteria to grab the largest iced tea possible for my source of caffeine. And every morning, I'd reply "alright, how about yourself?"
"Good, good," was her unwavering reply.
For reasons that are still unclear to me, I decided to challenge her.
"You say you're good every morning. Nobody can have a good day, every day."
"I wouldn't tell ya, even if I was having a bad day. Nuh-uh. No sir." she replied with a mischievous grin.
"I'm going to catch you once."
"I'd lie to ya, even if I was having a bad day," she laughed.
I was amazed at her willingness to engage every single person. Was it just politeness or was it real? One morning I decided to challenge her again because I believed her to be sincere. When she gave her usual greeting, I replied "I ain't doing so good this morning." And I absolutely meant it. Hell, I hadn't been doing well the whole month.
Sure enough, she looked sad and replied, "I'm sorry honey. Things'll get better. Things'll get better. You just got to be patient and have faith."
"Yeah, but they can get worse, too."
"You sure right. Uh-huh. They CAN get worse. And that's where you just got to keep trying."
She was so sincere and so we played this same game for the entire month. I got to the point where I deliberately chose her checkout line, even if it was longer. To be quite honest, it was pretty much the highlight of my day at that particular rotation. She showed more empathy and sincerity than many of the medical staff. And the very last day of my rotation when I kept picking at her, she said in almost a whisper, "maybe next time I'll tell ya when I'm having a bad day."
"Ahhh, it's my last day here for this month," I said with some disappointment. "But I'll back at the hospital another month."
"Alright, you can get me then."