Yes, I realize it’s a weird question. Hopefully you’ve had a shower or bath in the last day or two so it’s not a literal smell. Maybe you had some onions or garlic in your last meal, but I’m not talking about that smell either. I’m talking about what you leave behind once you’ve left the room.
I’ve been a Seinfeld geek for many years. There’s an episode where Jerry drops his car off with the valet and when he gets it back, there is a terrible odour in the car. It turns out, the valet attendant had some strong body odour that stayed long after he left the car. If you’ve seen the episode, you know how this odour seems to take on a life of its own and of course, the humour that follows.
As you know, I was in the hospital for a week at the end of March. We all know our hospitals don’t operate quickly. It takes time to register, process through triage, be seen by a nurse and then by a doctor. The resources and tools are probably not the most cutting edge in many cases. The mattresses have seen more patients than they were designed to. The paint is falling off the walls in some places. The bathroom showers are closed off because they aren’t worth repairing.
What I did ﬁnd amazing though, was the compassion I received, one human to another. I was shufﬂed around from the Emergency Department and then to 4 different rooms in 6 days. I met many nurses, porters, dietary staff and several doctors. I was constantly left with this feeling that people genuinely cared about me. When there are so many people to care for, and so few staff, I so often felt that I had their complete attention. I kept hearing this quote in my head:
They may forget what you said — but they will never forget how you made them feel.
One of the things I was reminded of, is the value of genuine care for another person. One of the best ways to show that is by being fully present. You know what I mean – physically AND mentally present. When circumstances aren’t ideal (and really, when are they?), you can still love, serve and be ﬁlled with compassion for the people you’re with. I am not expert on this. I’m still working on improving (ask my family :-)). It’s your smell that matters. It’s the smell you leave behind after you leave the room. Are you leaving odours of compassion, empathy, care, integrity & honesty? Or are you leaving something different? Are you building up others, encouraging them, challenging them? Or are you pushing them down so you can feel like you’re more valuable? Take a few moments this week to do a gut and heart check to see where you can be better.