I had just stepped out of a class on service recovery.
It was intended to teach all employees at the hospital where I work how to help recover a favorable impression from patients and visitors who might have experienced a less than great situation at our facility.
One of the things discussed was just how lost people can get in our humongous hospital, and how we should be on the watch for “the lost look”. I knew it well. It’s noticeable from yards away. It’s a mixture of bewilderment, frustration, and despair. Their mouth is a slightly open, eyebrows are raised, and their hands are slightly elevated with palms up. Sometimes they are even spinning slowly as if they’re on a rotisserie, looking this way and that, trying to figure out how to get to their destination.
Because I had just completed my mandatory training, I was hyperaware of the people around me. I was also hyperaware of how hungry I was. I had sat for two hours in the class listening to my stomach growl. I still had a long afternoon of work ahead, only thirty minutes to find something to eat, and get at it. I was on a mission. My goal?
I love Guthrie’s chicken fingers. They are cheap; they come with fries, and that really awesome uber-crushed ice. You know the kind…. It’s crushed so finely that some of it can be sucked up your straw? My mouth is watering even now as I think about it. My mouth was watering then, too.
To get there I had to leave my building,
go across a crosswalk,
completely through another building,
down a half block,
around the corner,
and into Guthrie’s.
It was going to take me about five minutes of power walking to get there, five back, and that left only twenty minutes to eat. Definitely doable. Usually.
I started out to get my food, and noticed all the people hustling and bustling by. Lots and lots of people. I tried to be friendly and speak to as many as I could. My class, remember? We also learned, however, that eye contact is what the lost in our facility are looking for. Someone to notice them, and notice they are lost.
I made it only a few steps out of my office when I ran into lost persons number one, two and three. Luckily they were together so I could direct them to one place. Quick. Easy. No real time lost, but I stepped it up anyway. I had made it halfway across the crosswalk when she spotted me. Had we been cars on a freeway, she’d have had to cross three lanes to get to me, and she did. I had made eye contact and smiled. My mistake.
She almost ran to me. She dropped all four of her bags at my feet, and dug around in her purse for a small piece of green paper with some letters written on it. It was the acronym for one of our intensive care units… and it was way back past my building and up a few levels, with a few twists and turns thrown in. No offense, but looking at her, I knew she’d never make it. Silently telling my stomach to quiet down, I picked up her bags, and told her to come with me. Relief flooded her face.
I’d like to say that she was the last person to delay my lunch and workday that afternoon, but no.
I began to wonder if someone had secretly placed a sign on me saying:
“Ask me. I can help!”
I ushered at least three more people to their destinations within my hospital that afternoon. By the end of the day it did feel like my hospital! I wondered if the ones who taught my earlier class planted all those people there, and this was my posttest.
What was the difference for me that day? Were there more lost people than on other days? I doubt it. The difference was me. The difference was that day I had eyes to see and I was looking. I wasn’t only focused on all I had to do, I was paying attention to the needs of others around me. Any other day I would have walked right on past those people intent on my own destination and all the important things I had to do.
How many times have I walked right past someone lost and in need of Jesus?
I know they are all around me. But am I too busy? Am I late for my own destination, and unwilling to stop and help? Too caught up in my own agenda to show them the way to Christ? Sometimes I am. Ouch.
Still, if I ask, I believe God will give me the eyes to see those in need of the help I can give. I know the way. I can show them. I should show them. I even want to. Even if it means I don’t make it to Guthrie’s.