She stood in front of me fumbling through each screen. My silent frustration grew with every failed attempt. I just wanted to sign in, get my labs drawn, and get on with the rest of my day. This slowdown was unwelcome.
Though the slowdown of an interruption is typically inconvenient, it’s often fertile learning ground. While the older woman struggled to enter her information using the new electronic sign-in, I struggled to see her immediate need. After several failed attempts, she turned to me and muttered something about her frustration. Smiling politely, I stepped toward the screen to begin. Pride swelled in me as I quickly, successfully signed in.
I’m not proud of my selfish behavior. It makes me sick to think of the pride I felt in the moment. None of my gross behavior was wasted that day-though. The interruption of the woman’s struggle, although originally causing a wave of arrogant pride, invited me to look beyond my own little world.
As the weight of shame washed over me, I looked at the woman with new eyes. She was visibly shaken. My heart melted as I took in the depth of her despair. I no longer saw an interruption sitting across from me in the waiting room, I saw a woman with a need.
As our eyes made contact, she told me she felt dizzy. I moved to the chair next to her and grabbed her hand. Her voice trembled as she told me her story. I assured her I could help. Then she told me she couldn’t remember her telephone number. Moments flashed in my mind and it occurred to me what was happening during the minutes prior to this one.
Every time she arrived at the screen requesting her number, she panicked and returned to the home screen. Again and again, she found herself staring at the screen reminding her what she had forgotten. Her interruption became mine. What she couldn’t remember, I couldn’t afford to forget.
She was a person with a need. I had the time and ability to invest. Sitting in the waiting room until she was called, I absorbed a valuable lesson I could have missed that morning. Interruptions are opportunities. While it’s easy to focus on the inconvenience of a slowdown, there’s usually something greater to learn.
The woman who slowed me down that day was someone’s daughter, sister, aunt, wife, mother, grandmother, and friend. The interruption was an opportunity to stand in the gap for her loved ones. That’s exactly what I would want for my parents, sisters, husband, children, family, and friends.
I can’t say I’m great at accepting the slowdown of interruptions, but I’m learning to see the opportunity wrapped in inconvenience. Pride forfeits involvement, and it’s entirely possible that the point of an interruption is to see others. People aren’t problems. They are the point.
What she couldn’t remember became fertile ground for what I couldn’t afford to forget. Always consider the bigger picture of life’s interruptions. We are, after all, inextricably connected in community. May the inconveniences of today be welcomed as opportunities impacting all our tomorrows.
#momentoftruthmonday #interruptions #opportunities #community #goldenrule #lifelesson