The phone woke me up at about 11:15 p.m. on Thursday night.
The voice on the other end was a young man who works at the independent living center where my mom resides.
He calmly identified himself—I recognized his very kind and reassuring voice, “Miss Mildred fell and she called for our help,” he reported.
I asked if anything was broken or if she was hurt badly. He reported that she couldn’t get up on her feet. I asked him to call 911 and told him I was on my way to her apartment. To make a long story short, we ended up in the hospital emergency room where, unfortunately, we discovered that she had a broken hip.
Later in the day I found our young friend. I stopped him to thank him for his help. As I reached for my wallet, he stopped me with these words:
“No, no, I don’t want anything. Thanks, but this is my job.”
His response reminded me of the words of Jesus when he told his friends on one occasion, “. . .when you have done all that you were instructed to do, say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have done only what we ought to have done!'” (Luke 17:10).
It was strange, but as I made my way through the next couple of days, during which my mother had surgery to repair her hip, I heard several people say basically the same thing when others were expressing thanks for their kindness and their hard work. One man told someone, "No problem, this is what I'm here to do."
It’s a good way to look at life, work and day-to-day reality in any community. If more people embraced their duty with such a clear-headed focus and self-understanding, what a world it would be, don’t you think?
Without a genuine sense of obligation, duty and commitment to performance, community life fails, especially in the crucial moments of life.
I told our young friend that I understood what he was saying and that I appreciated both his professionalism and his obvious concern for my mother and everyone else in the community.
“I’m very grateful that you are here,” I told him.
I handed him a twenty, “Let me do this just because of my own feelings.”
He replied with a smile, “Thank you, but I’m just glad to do my job.”
I’m more than glad, as well.
And, my mom is doing well following her surgery.
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