Thanksgiving Day at Work... For a Good Reason

     I worked today- November 28th, 2013.  Thanksgiving Day.  A very long 13 hour shift.  You might ask yourself why would someone want to work on the highly American Holiday of feasting and gorging ourselves on as much food as we can take before bursting?
     Could it be the wonderful double time pay?  No, unfortunately, I do not get holiday pay.
     Is it the great company of coworkers?  After a 50% call in rate for our department today, that would also be a no, although those that did show up were an awesome bunch.
     Could it be because my own friends and family are horrible?  No, I would much rather be with them enjoying myself and devouring a frankly disturbing amount of food and drink.

     For readers that don't know what I do, I work in a hospital, a very large, continuously busy one at that.  More specifically, I work in direct patient care.  Many people don't think about that on holidays- of the people that ridicule me for working on holidays, never have they asked why.  Everyone assumes it must be some horrible consumerist plot tying me to a register to sell away trinkets to the masses.

     But alas, that is not it.  I work in a facility that tends to people.  Every year during the major holidays we get a decent trickle of lonely people that just want company.  We get plenty of genuine patients.  And lastly, we get a fair share of post-binge-drinking-with-the-family-and-friends patients that come in due to a brilliant idea to carve the turkey while juggling chainsaws and arguing politics with that very strange relative we all know.  And every year this last bunch provides me with a wealth of humorous stories I can't share due to HIPAA laws.
     While many have places to go to spend time reminiscing about the joys they have experienced with friends or family, not everyone is blessed with that opportunity.  We tend to forget that there are people out there suffering or lacking.  Hospitals NEVER close because illnesses and accidents don't take holidays.  I am giving these patients a sympathetic ear, a few laughs, and if possible- a little bit of hope for the future.  I am giving them a small glimmer of something they may not get at home- a tiny medicinal dose of friendly company.  A bit of distraction to keep their minds off the situation they are in.

     Just got a halo and need help balancing to get to a bathroom?  I'm there.  Have to be lifted out of bed after an emergent appendectomy?  Right here.  Broken toe from getting frustrated at so-and-so and drop kicking a frozen turkey?  Guess who's going to ask how far it went?  That's right, this guy.  While I'm at work, it is my priority to make people feel better about the fact that sometimes life is unfair and shitty.  Today I suggested that a patient call someone to smuggle them in some cranberry contraband like an old prison break movie.  After questioning their RN, they did indeed do exactly that and received a nice visit loaded with goodies.
     Because of that fact, I don't mind being a disposable health care worker.  I don't mind being overworked and under appreciated on the job.  I don't mind sacrificing my own holiday celebration because I can give it up to help someone else achieve something like one.  A small measure of normalcy to be sure, but that can mean a lot to someone stuck in a hospital.

     I think what I'm trying to get at is- Thanksgiving and Christmas shouldn't be limited to a single day of the year- but rather something we share every day.  Isn't that what these 2 days are about?  Being kind and helping those in need.  Being thankful, caring, and generous.  Being open to, and aware of, the thought that there will always be someone in need of something as simple as a kind word and any one of us can provide it- on any day and in any circumstance.

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