While in Los Angeles for the 2012 ANCC Magnet® Conference, Mary and I stopped at a diner in downtown LA. It was one of those open-24-hour dives with a “We Never Close” sign in the window, and it was packed with an improbable cross-section of humanity, from homeless people to people in dresses and suits.
We were only there for a moment when in walked a group of nurses. We could see by their badges that they were attending our same conference. The next thing we know, one of them is kneeling down next to two grizzled old men at an adjacent table, and she was absolutely engaged with both of them. It was clear that in that moment she was seeing them as the two most important people on the planet. We were touched by the sight of the three of them and the opportunity to witness the utter presence and attunement of this remarkable nurse.
I later went over to her and told her that I wished I had a photo of that moment for the books Mary and I write and the presentations and work we do on therapeutic presence and attunement. She told me she had learned that the two men were regulars at the café; they’d been coming there for 50 years. One of the men began talking to her about his wife’s struggle with cancer. The nurse said she wasn’t sure why she knelt down next to the table of these men, but she’d had the thought that maybe no one had smiled at them today.
What struck us most is that the whole conference we were attending was about care, and yet we saw the best care anywhere in that diner between one off-duty nurse and two complete strangers who, just maybe, needed a smile today.
~ Michael Trout