Niagara Gazette

Columns

January 26, 2013

GLYNN: Hospital stay taught a valuable lesson

Niagara Gazette — All of us probably have a story stuck in our minds over the years. Maybe it was that newspaper article that we intended to clip and save but somehow it vanished along the way.

I remember one such piece by Jim Bishop whose syndicated column graced the pages of the now-defunct Buffalo Courier-Express. Recent restrictions on hospital visitors — due to the fear of the flu — reminded me in a strange way about the long-lost clipping.

That particular column based on a true story struck me as a fine example of some people who often misjudge others. It also was a lesson that it's the little things in life that really matter, those random acts of kindness where someone helps another human being without expecting anything in return. 

As I recall ... a middle-aged man— known here only as Harry — had been in and out of the hospital for years due to a heart condition. This time around, he ended up in a double room with a guy named Ben who never stopped complaining. He found fault with all the nurses. The hospital food was lousy and always cold, Ben contended. The noise from the nurses' station down the hall was especially annoying. Whenever his room number flashed on the board, the nurses knew Ben had another list of gripes. 

To compound matters, Ben intensely disliked how the room was arranged. Harry's bed was flush with the window, offering the only view to the outside world. Meanwhile his roommate was confined to that bed against the wall, except when a nurse's aide might show up to help him into the bathroom. So one day Harry took it upon himself to be Ben's eyes and ears to those daily happenings on the street, four stories down from their room. It was a chance to brighten Ben's otherwise dismal days.

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