The Old Man at the Clinic

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

In a world where you can be anything, be kind.

Caroline flack

It sounds simple, yet only the best of us seem to be able to do it.

It seems like a fundamental of being a human, yet many of us do it as a bonus.

However, it has become increasingly clear that kindness is anything but simple and fundamental. In fact, it has gotten to the point whereby it seems you should not expect kindness automatically from people – albeit you can hope.

Y’see – to be able to be kind is a luxury.

To be able to give kindness, means you actually have something to give in the first place.
To be able to show kindness, means you’re in a position where you can choose to take the kind road.
To be able to be kind, means you have the ability and resources to choose to be.

And to be able to acknowledge kindness, means you have enough faith and trust in the world that the kindness you see isn’t the mask of unkindness.

I tell you ah, it’s really difficult being a kind person. Sometimes I tell my closest friends, “当人够难,当好人更难。” (Translation: It’s difficult enough to be a person, it’s even more difficult to be a good person.)

So this is where my story (finally) begins 😁:

One day while I was waiting for my turn at the clinic, there was a frail old man standing by the counter looking frantic. With one hand firmly holding onto his walking cane, and the other desperately digging and feeling around his pockets – his eyes were also filled with worry and his forehead wrinkled. (Or maybe the wrinkles were there all along lah…)

Now, this clinic didn’t have the kindest nurse. She was always rude, condescending and sometimes even closed registration early as she wanted to leave the clinic on time. She’s one of those that I think chose the wrong profession and somehow rest of us pay the price of it.

Awfully cranky for someone surrounded by drugs. 🤨
Orrrr… maybe it’s because she’s surrounded by them, but can’t (legally) take them… 🙃

So anyway, the nurse yelled at the poor old man for not having enough money to pay for his bill. The conversation went something like this:

👩‍⚕️: Where got people like you one? Come and see doctor, never bring enough money one??
👴: (Looking down in embarrassment, while digging around his pockets)
👩‍⚕️: Aiya, uncle! You don’t act lah! Don’t have means don’t have. Like that you tell me how??
👴: My son said enough money, I didn’t know will be so expensive! Can I ask my son to come later to pay?
👩‍⚕️: You think I what? You think I believe you meh?

Like, hello. If he really doesn’t have the money, he doesn’t have it. It’s not like for every decibel higher your shrilling goes, he magically pops out a dollar, right?? 😒

And we all know your non-patient-loving-overly-abundant-ass isn’t going to let him wait in the clinic for his son, because you’re closing soon.

So, what did Gera (me) do?

Gera was, first of all, very annoyed. Gera had a throbbing headache thanks to her clogged sinuses, and that wanker-of-a-nurse just cranked it up. The old man might not have spewed money with every increasing decibel when she yelled, but her headache sure increased! 🤬

But also, I was very heartbroken to see an old man having to be in such a desperate and humiliating situation during the sunset years of his life. It’s just not right!

So, I got up and said I’ll pay for him. (I would teleport the son over, if I could. That would’ve helped everything.)

👴: No need! My son will come!
👩💭(me): That solution hasn’t gotten you anywhere, bro.
👩 💬: Okay, but if he cannot make it before the clinic closes… I can pay first for you. 😊

👩‍⚕️: Whoa, give me the money instead lah!
👩💭: For what? Money can’t you buy class one leh…
👩 💬: It’s alright. How much is his bill?

👩‍⚕️: Girl, don’t be deceived by him! Looks can be deceiving!
👩💭: Sure, you look like you’re supposed to be a compassionate being… but here we areeee~
👩 💬: Thanks for your concern. 😊 But I’d rather be deceived than to pass up on someone that actually needs help.

And so I pulled out the cash to pay for his bill, wrote my phone number down on an old receipt for the old man to give to his son and I made my way home.

I never heard from the old man or his son.
And just then I moved house, so I never went back to that clinic either.

I don’t feel cheated or deceived. There are dozens of legit reasons as to why I never heard from him – like, old people forget things all the time, or maybe he lost the paper with my number and never saw me again in the neighbourhood, or maybe he had already gone home to God. I deliberately choose to believe he did not just take my money and give me an empty promise; it was my own personal decision to give him my money, without expecting a single cent in return anyway.

However, I started to feel shameful about how I perceived the nurse. And I started to feel pity for her.

Because even though the ending might show I was likely ‘taken advantage of’, I have the ability to choose not to see it that way; I chose to see I did a good thing, the right thing. And I automatically gave the old man the benefit of the doubt and chose to believe he had no ill will whatsoever.

But what about the nurse?

She must’ve been incredibly hurt before to be so skeptical of others’ cries for help. She must’ve been taken advantage of before and was unable to dust off the dirt and wipe off the tears, and continue living her life as a good person. Instead, she built walls and became vigilant against anyone that dared near it.

In fact, she was trying to protect me from being cheated by the old man. And instead of being grateful, I was actually quite b*tchy…

Y’see – kindness is much easier when you’re showing it to someone that is obviously in need. But kindness is truly needed by those who didn’t have the privilege to be shown kindness before, and became what many of us see as ‘villains’.

It’s not easy to be kind – but nothing easy was ever worth it anyway. 😉

So, go forth and be kind! ❤️


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