> Spirituality > Personal Growth

Tension in the Doctor’s Office

January 17, 2019 | by Rabbi Shraga Simmons

Connecting to the simple power of generosity.

After driving 60-minutes in a rainstorm, I arrived at the medical clinic for a routine stress test. I was on time and looking forward to a quick in-n-out. But when I handed the doctor’s authorization to the receptionist, I immediately sensed trouble.

“This authorization is for one of our other locations,” she said flatly. “It’s not good here.”

I went straight to logic. “You’re part of a chain of four clinics operating under the same name in close proximity,” I stated confidently. “Surely this clinic doesn’t operate independently of the others.”

“You can’t use that authorization here,” she repeated in well-honed bureaucratic drawl.

I shifted tactics to a desperate appeal for compassion. “But the other locations had no appointments! And I traveled an hour to get here! In the pouring rain!”

She was nonplussed. “Your doctor can send us a new form.”

“I’ll have him email it right away,” I said, thrilled at this glimmer of hope.

“We don’t have email,” she said dismissively. “Only fax.”

It’s 2019 and your company doesn’t have email?!”

“Let me get this clear,” I said in exasperation. “It’s 2019, you’re a large company with multiple locations in a technologically-advanced country – and you don’t have email?!”

She shrugged her shoulders.

I begrudgingly contacted the doctor’s office who instantly faxed an updated authorization through their computer.

Five minutes later, no fax had arrived.

15 minutes later, still no fax.

I called back my doctor’s office.

“No problem,” he said obligingly. “I’m walking over to the fax machine to send it manually. Done!”

I patiently waited 5 minutes, 20 minutes. Still no fax. And no plan-B.

By now a second receptionist had arrived and overheard my plight. “Here,” she said, handing me her cell phone. “Have your doctor send it by email.”

“But I thought the clinic doesn’t have email.”

“We don’t. But you can use my personal account.”

After recovering from momentary shock, I burst into action. The email method worked seamlessly (imagine!) and minutes later I was on the treadmill.

The second receptionist’s small act of random act of kindness restored my belief in humanity and saved me valuable time and energy. Living with generosity is a great way to proactively enrich our life and it really doesn’t take so much effort, just a little thoughtfulness.

To get started, here are some tools:

Generosity Tool #1 – Get in the habit.

Set your phone alarm to go off every hour throughout the day. Whatever you're doing at that moment – driving, socializing, working, etc. – stop and ask: "Right now, what small act can I do to make life more pleasant for someone else?"

Generosity Tool #2 – Be proactive.

Don’t wait to be asked or "begrudgingly accede to a request." Rather, generosity is defined as Rodef Chesed – literally, "chasing kindness" – going out of your comfort zone to actively care for the welfare of others.

Generosity Tool #3 – Do it frequently.

Maimonides writes that good character is attained not by the size of a good deed, but rather by the number of deeds performed. Giving a charitable donation of $1,000 might not positively influence me to the same degree as a thousand acts – i.e., giving one dollar a thousand times.

Whenever encountering another in need, we can respond either by shrinking into our internal safe-space, or by extending ourselves on behalf of another. The second receptionist understood that when reaching out to help, we create a perpetual loop of human connection – where generosity engenders gratitude that in turn encourages more generosity.

Jump into the loop today!

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