Say “Hello!” to a wide cross-section of the community!
Lynn and I spent the better part of six hours a day, over a thirty-six-day stretch at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center (PVHMC). In fact, we were there every day in the month May 2016.
We were there so long and so much, that the ladies in the café started giving me the employee discount.
PVHMC is one of the top maternity hospitals in California and serves the Inland Empire of Southern California.
I was often amazed at the cross-section of our society, which migrated through the main lobby, café and various waiting rooms.
From large tight-knit families who took over the lobby every night, to foreign nationals making American citizens (they were, I asked), to gang bangers and the BMW set, this hospital serviced the entire community at large.
Something is Different
Upon our first visit, it struck me that there seemed to be a lot of security for a hospital. The longer we were there, it became clear to me that although they were there to serve and maintain a high level of security for the babies in their care, they were also there to keep the peace. (We actually witnessed several security officers wrestling with someone in a planter.)
The more I paid attention, I began to notice people who were wearing gang colors and even identifying tattoos. Not only were Crips and Bloods sporting their colors, I saw a number of men who I was certain were members of MS-13, based on their face tattoos.
I hadn’t given it any thought before, but of course, their wives, girlfriends, sisters and friends have children, too.
To be honest, in my day-to-day life, I rarely interact with gang bangers, but when I have, the interactions have been tense, lacking engagement and wrought with distrust on both sides.
It was clear to me that this hospital must be some sort of safe zone. These “bangers” were friendly. They made eye contact. They smiled and offered greetings of “good morning” and “have a nice day.” They held the elevator doors and were courteous during interactions in the café, which again, has not been my experience in the past.
Then it occurred to me; What would the world be like if we all acted like we were in a “safe zone” like the Women’s Center at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center?
A world where everyone was courteous to each other, smiled and wished each other a good day.
A world where everyone asked, “How is your baby?” or “Is Mommy okay?” or “When will you be able to take your baby home?” or offered best wishes like “Congratulations, Daddy!” or “We will keep you in our thoughts and prayers!”
It would be a different kind of experience.
Back to Reality
Even while we were at the hospital, the reality of our experience kept us in check.
When faced with the decision of leaving the car seat in the car or bringing it with us, I told Lynn, “Are you kidding me??? Have you seen all the gang bangers around here???”
In my defense, I typically parked on the street, which is a main thoroughfare; there were a lot of fairly aggressive homeless people in the area, as well as, a high amount of police activity.
After all, Pomona is not Beverly Hills. In defense of my assertion, the Mexican fast-food restaurant down the street from the hospital even had a “bank-like” bullet proof glass partition between the customers and the employees. Really, it did!
Now for the Aesop Fable Portion of This Blog
All of that being said, most of the people we met at the hospital were amazing.
We made new friends; from one of Daniel’s roommate’s families to one of our awesome nurses.
We experienced people at their best. It is quite an experience to be in a place governed and motivated by love and support.
When it is practical, we should all lower our guard and let more people in.
You may never fully know the effect of a kind word or gesture, except that it rarely results in pain or distrust.
By Bill Robertson