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29 June 2009

What in your Black Box?

I always wonder about people on the subway. Where are they coming from? Where are they heading? What are they carrying? Is there a hubby/spouse at home waiting on them? Will kids greet them as they walk in the front door of their house, condo, flat, apartment? I wonder what book she is reading...It must be good/interesting... She smiled. How many years has that elderly couple been married?

As I left Harvard Med School the other day the security guard asked me if I had a ventriloquist dummy in my box... and as I tried to come up with an answer... her response became, "Ohhhh.... it's not a skeleton, is it?" The sadness on her face was a bit heartbreaking and made me rethink my own feelings/thoughts about the bones. She sees it as sad; thinking of the person(s) who lost their life. I think what a great sacrifice this person made in order for me to learn - and so that I can become a compassionate advocate for each of my patients. As I rode the subways and walked the streets to my apartment carrying my big black box I hoped no one would ask questions. For once I hoped no one would care.

But you can always count on kids. I was asked by multiple children of varying ages "What's in your box?" Each time I responded "school supplies." I just figured it would be easier for everyone involved. The box is large, heavy, and awkward to carry all of the blocks to my house but it was fun to listen to the guesses of people passing by. Apparently it is a trumpet, saxophone, oboe (a huge one :)), tuba, french horn (not hardly)....

How often do we assume we know what things are like on the inside by the outside? In our cadaver lab we all started off with whole idea of what was hiding underneath. Inside we discovered some had lungs that were in really bad shape, another had an adrenal gland the size of a kidney, and one of the group's body had an abdomen filled with tumors. The insides to people aren't always in poor shape but they can be bruised and battered. If we judge people by what they wear, how thin they are, or the accent with which they speak what are we telling them about ourselves? Is the girl who seems snobby really just shy? Is the talkative guy in the middle of the classroom really nervous? How much can we really know? How much do we assume?

The next time you think you know what's in someone's "black box" take a moment and think about what it would mean to them for you to assume positive things. Look for the bright side of people. It's the little things that matter. Remember their name, smile when you see them, hold the door open, etc.... These are things that can help people assume positive things about you....


JCT said...


polly's path said...

Well said.

Mrs. Todd-Paine said...

Whatever, dude. Keeping a box of human remains by your front door is still freaky!
And I teach POE for fun!