Be Human Be Mindful

In the dark.

I had a doctor’s appointment this week, routine follow up that required lab work to be drawn at the end. Eight tubes of lab work.

Following the visit I took the elevator five floors down to the lab, walked the labyrinthine maze of halls, to arrive at the door to the lab. Upon opening the door it immediately struck me that the waiting room was completely dark, like inky, black, under the ocean, dark. The only light came from a Self-check-in kiosk in the corner.

I assumed the lab was open since there was a staff member at the desk. I was hoping for a little reassurance or a hello or something; there as nothing forthcoming from said staff member. I waited. In darkness. The staff member eventually told me to use the kiosk to check-in. I did. There was no mention of the lack of lights. I finished checking in and waited some more. I was itching to ask, “hey, did you notice there are no lights in here?” But I refrained.

While at the kiosk I could see around the corner into the rest of the lab. There were lights in the lab draw rooms. Just no lights in the entry room or the hallway. Darkness. And oddness. And no idea why the lights were off.

Eventually another staff member arrived. She started working on a computer at the desk. She told me my lab work was not showing up. She turned the light off on her phone and used the phone to make a call. I waited and wondered and waited. The first staff member had disappeared down the dark hallway while I was checking in. It was me, the kiosk, and a dark quiet room.

The second staff member got up and left as well while talking on her phone.

I waited some more. In darkness. By myself.

Eventually the first staff member came back. She called my name and escorted me into a room that had lights. The rows of florescent lights felt blinding and harsh after the darkness. She logged into her computer, verified my name and date of birth. She took my blood. All very proficient.

I finally left and got on with my day.

Yet at no time did anyone offer any explanation about the lack of lights.

If I were my own best friend and I was faced with a similar situation I would remind myself to do my job but also be kind. Reassure people who are walking into a room that has no lights. Simply say, “you might notice we have no lights. The building people are working on fixing it. We’re able to draw labs though and will be with you shortly. Please check in at the kiosk.”

I timed myself. It took me 11 seconds to rattle that off. Eleven seconds to provide an ounce of comfort or compassion or reassurance in the middle of an unexpected and kind of creepy dark room. In the grand scheme of things it doesn’t seem like it would be too hard to do.

I appreciate that these two people were probably having a rough day with most of their office having no lights. I appreciate they were still drawing blood and doing their job despite less than ideal circumstances. But can you imagine how delighted I, and other clients, might have been to have 11 seconds of reassurance that things are not normal, but we’re still going to take care of you. Now that would have made my day and been a very different post.

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