Monday, February 29, 2016

Minnesota Nice - Not Always the Best Choice

When Steve & I were honeymooning in Arizona back in 2012, we did a bit of wandering around, exploring the greater Phoenix area. We were just heading out from a western wear store where Steve bought a belt to go with his wedding present from me, a turquoise and silver belt buckle.

The street we were on was busy, though at this late date I have no idea which one it was. A family was trying to cross at the corner, and as we got nearer it was plain to see their frustration while they waited for a safe crossing. There was at least one small walking child and another in a stroller. Nobody was stopping.

Now Minnesota, a little late to the party, I thought, had just passed stricter laws about stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks. Wisconsin had done it several years before and I had to pay attention as I crossed state lines. I was happy to see the trend spreading. I had no idea about Arizona laws on the subject. So while I didn't know if it was legally required (and I suspected not, judging by other drivers), I did know what was morally right. I stopped, blocking all northbound traffic.

After a few more southbound cars passed, an opening appeared in their lane and the family started crossing. Safely. When the rest of them were nearly to the curb and safe, the dad darted quickly back in front of our car and looked at our license plate. Minnesota still has front plates. He smiled, waved, and shouted, "I knew you weren't from around here!"

That was Minnesota nice. The attitude behind it is a big part of how I was raised. You can call it civility, manners, the Golden Rule, humility, all sorts of things. When I think back on it, the core hinged on the idea that I'm not the most important person in the world. I am not the most deserving, the most interesting, the best anything, and especially not the most everything.

On the whole it has stood me in good stead. But not always. The choice is always there to slide into the easy opposite, and assume I might very well be the least important, deserving, interesting, etc. Mom was a great help with that. I learned very early in life that if I had a disagreement with another, particularly an adult, it had to be my fault. Now granted, she was more right than wrong.

However, not always. I recall what might be the only time she picked my side of something. It was a new class year in a new school, new town. The teacher placed us kids in the "smart" and "stupid" reading sections by handing us the book and having each of us read from it. The day dragged on, and being too soon over, a few of us had no tryouts. I got stuck with the stupid kids and was very upset about it. I was always an avid and speedy reader once I'd learned how, and was so bored in reading classes that I read ahead and finished the reading book within a couple of weeks. It was supposed to last the year. So there were a couple weeks of less boredom anyway.

Mom was getting ready as usual to find a reason why I deserved the stupid kids reading section. Had I misbehaved? Not paid attention during the read aloud test? When I informed her that I had been placed without being given the test, she actually placed a call to the school (no getting off work for the little stuff) and a day or two later I got reassigned. Also a grumpy teacher. I hardly noticed. Fourth grade was for the most part one of those wasted years.

As an adult I had reason to judge for myself whether or not an instance of Minnesota Nice was really the place to go. I was in a hospital for something or other, and they needed to place an IV. One of the things about IVs is that if you don't hit a vein square on, you have to remove the needle and start again. In a new spot. With a new needle. I the patient will now have contaminated the old ones.

I was trying to be patient. Be nice. But after about the 4th unsuccessful stick, I began to speak up. Began, I said. In looking back I firmly believe that guy doing the sticking had way more ego than skill. Obviously his lack of success was my fault. My veins were too small. Hell, I was a 10-gallon Red Cross blood donor. My veins were just fine, thank you. Might he try letting somebody else do it?

He refused, sure that this vein would be "the good one". Nope. By this time the frustration and pain were bringing tears to my eyes with each successive poke, something I tried to hide because I was supposed to be the adult, the good patient, not the whiner. Nice.

Lucky for me just before his 7th poke (!) an older, might I say female nurse wandered in to see what was taking so long. I verbally grabbed her, begging for them to give me someone who could actually do the job. She looked at the holes and bruises in my hands, wrists, forearms, and noted he was getting ready to start on my legs!

I'm sure I caught a dirty look pass from her to him at the carnage, but she simply stated mildly that he should learn to call for assistance in a case like this. (Pick one: "a case like this" is defined as A: an uncooperative and difficult patient, or B: a medical staffer performing procedures way above his skill level.) Then she deftly found an unpunctured spot, wiped it with alcohol, and slid that puppy in as sweet and smooth as you please!

I never was troubled with that particular young man again during my stay.

I have mentioned the incident to phlebotomists here and there in my medical forays. I did it today as well, since part of the pre-registration process at the hospital is drawing blood to make sure of a type match. (It's A+ guys, just like the report cards!)

Hey, did you know that in Arizona, it's now the law that after only two pokes the patient can insist that they send in somebody else to do the job? Wooo Hoooo!

Let's see now... what else could I complain about? You know, that 30-some years later somebody could fix. Somebody NICE.

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