Why It Is Good To Be A Volunteer In A Hospital

Flash Fiction by G David Schwartz

There are very many things I could (maybe should) thank my wife. I thank Mrs. Horton for teaching me not to end the previous sentence with the word “for.” That sentence is different from the rule of ending a sentence with a proposition. By proposition, I do not mean making a remark to my wife which would make her think me rude.

You know… well, maybe you don’t. so I will mention it. If that was to be given to all those who have helped you, I am willing to bet, gentleman’s bet, that it virtually everyone who had come across in your life deserves some thanks.

I do not only mean the teachers, sure but fire and police human beings, employers and employees, salespeople, radio and television personalities and even brothers and sisters along with many more including neighbors in your neighborhood.

I personally do not think it good when a friend or relative, tells you what you ought to do over and over again, continually, just continually. I, for example, have been told that I do not take advise very well. The reason is that I think what I think is better than, not what Tom, Richard and Mary Jane think, but I am closer to what I want to do.

So here for the first time and last time (Historic occasion) I will admit why (for one reason and one reason only, not counting how she does everything with and for the kids (they all like her better), does all the shopping (so rarely gets what I like), pays all the bills (I am philosophically a Peter Kropotkinite) makes all dinners (She is a better cook than I) and all reservations to restaurants (She is a better cook than I) and all vacation plans, including where to stay, for how long and where to go for entrainment, and the like. (I know she does not like doing that, but someone has to and she does it so well.)

But honestly, I could do all that if I needed, not wanted, because I do not ever want to do… almost erred and called this woman’s work. Well, let me tell you, my wife worked out of the house at a real job where she did something very important, socially and philosophically. She did something I don’t think I could ever do. She worked as a teacher, or inductor for mentally and physically challenged children. And then she had to come home to me???

But with all the accolades I could heap on her, for all the respect I owe her, for all the thanks asks I owe her, the best thing she did for me, besides the most beautiful and intelligent children was to suggest to me to go to a local hospital and become a volunteer.

I never thought about being a volunteer in a hospital, but it was not long until I came to wish I had done something good with my life earlier. Oh, there were many things, a few good events am both happy and proud to have done. For example, I worked at a retirement community where I interacted with several interesting people. I was the leader of an interfaith committee where me and three, sometimes five others taught and learned from others, but these events were not as grand as when my wife suggested I volunteer at a local hospital.

The hospital volunteer coordinator gave tests and asked what I enjoyed doing. The first couple of months I was doing laundry. I did not enjoy doing laundry and I was shocked that my aptitude made me be fit to be a laundry person.

One day the coordinator asked if I knew how to play chess.

I joked that I know how to lose at chess, and the coronation told me that a patient, a gentleman wanted to play some chess. I did not keep a running count but I believe I won two games. I believe we played forty-eight games.

It is good to be a volunteer because those two games meant a lot to me.

It is also good to be a volunteer not only because you get out of the house, away from the home laundry machine and dishwasher (which after it washes the dishes does not put them away, in the right place), not only away from the grass that always needs to be trimmed, cut, shaped, mulched, looked after, watered… it never ends…

In a word, actually 27 or so words, its good to be a volunteer because you will be doing things both necessary and fun (except the laundry but that too needs to be done) and you will earn respect from the nurses and patients. AND, you will get a discount on lunch).

Mmmmm, lunch.

Take this to heart. Volunteering is a good deed. And volunteering is, you will be told many times, appreciated.

 G. David Schwartz is the former president of  Seedhouse, the online interfaith committee. Schwartz is the author of A Jewish Appraisal of Dialogue (1994) and Midrash and Working Out Of The Book  (2004). Currently a volunteer at The Cincinnati J, Meals On Wheels. His newest book, Shards And Verse (2011) is now in stores or can be ordered online.



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