All My Children

Stopping into our local supermarket during a surprise snowstorm yesterday, I found myself in the checkout line observing some of my young patients in action.

Darcy Devereaux was the cashier. I watched her quick hands scan the groceries of the person ahead of me while she chatted away cheerfully.

A casual observer might have missed the skin grafts on her hands and forearms. Knowing they were there, I marveled at her speed and agility as I remembered her trips to the Shriners Hospital for a long series of surgeries for the burns she suffered at age two. Her mother was in and out of the picture, and ultimately she ended up living with her father.

Danny Pierson was our bagger. His nametag said “Shift Leader”. He is a full time college student, who lives with his father and stepmother here in town. Every day he commutes to college, and every weekend he pulls long shifts at our supermarket. A few years ago his biological mother arrived in town after being away for fifteen years, and sought him out in an effort to reestablish a relationship with the son she hadn’t seen for such a long time. Then, just as suddenly as she had appeared, she fell ill and died. Danny didn’t miss a day of school or work. I happened to see his father around that time, and we had talked about Danny’s resilience.

Darcy had just finished scanning the groceries of the woman ahead of me, and Danny had bagged them with more care and proficiency than anybody else when Sarah Daigle came storming in from the parking lot, her blonde hair dripping and her blaze orange vest covered with snowflakes.

“Some old guy almost ran over me out there”, she exclaimed, her voice quivering.

Danny made sure the customer ahead of me was all set, then quickly whisked Sarah across the exit isle and into a small staff area. Her voice was shrill as she recounted what had happened. I couldn’t hear more than a word here and there as I stood there and watched Darcy’s scarred hands flick my groceries across the scanner.

Danny was calm and professional. He debriefed Sarah as if he had done that sort of thing a hundred times before. I heard him say that Sarah could take some time-out or go and see the Manager on duty. She seemed to be okay with just her talk with Danny and disappeared into the store.

I had started bagging my own groceries, and Danny quickly finished the job for me. He explained briefly that an older gentleman backing out of his parking space had not seen Sarah and had almost run into her. Danny looked straight into my eyes and wished me a good night.

I wished him the same, drove home carefully through the heavy snowfall and called the Manager on duty.

“I just wanted to let you know I saw Danny Pierson in action tonight debriefing Sarah Daigle after she almost got run over in the parking lot. He really seemed to handle the situation in a very professional manner”, I said.

“Thanks, Doc”, he said. “I’m really glad you called to tell me that. Usually when somebody calls about my crew, they call to complain about something. It’s nice to hear when somebody is doing something right!”

2 Responses to “All My Children”


  1. 1 Steph December 8, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    Nice one!

    It’s lovely to hear of your interest in your patient’s lives (outside of the surgery) and I’m also totally with you on making sure to communicate good news as well as bad.

  2. 2 Cathy December 10, 2008 at 9:59 am

    It was very nice that you called the store mgr. like that. Not enough people do those type things. I wonder why it is that we are a society who would much rather complain than compliment? I wish people would follow your lead.


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