Be Kind. Always.

Twelve-hour shifts can be tough, and I had electively signed up for a 16-hour one. The day wasn’t too taxing as far as hospital days go. My patients were relatively benign (as benign as can be on an oncology unit), but it was a task-filled day, keeping me on my feet from 7 a.m. all the way through till 11:25 p.m., when I clocked out. I had one patient who could not settle at the end of the night. I tucked her in, rubbed her back, and tried to unfurrow her brow, in the hopes of keeping her and the oncoming nurse from a rough night. I gave her drugs, too. Duh.

Walking out that night, I knew my efforts were fruitless. That patient was headed anywhere but to sleep. But I was spent. I requested an uber. It was three minutes away. And I waited. My morning had been cloudy, having found out the night before that my grandmother had passed away. As hospital days go, time to consider your own life stressors is always quickly trumped. Waiting for my ride, I was once again allowed to feel my life, my grandmother’s life. Tired and sad and waiting. And waiting. “Where the f*ck is this uber?! It said it was three minutes away. It has been at least ten.” I called. He said he was four minutes away. It was another ten more till my ride arrived.

I hopped in the car and exchanged pleasantries. The driver offered an explanation for the delay.

I responded with something like, “Yeah, it said you were only three minutes away.”

The inflection in my tone conveyed not understanding, but frustration. Fortunately, I suppose I am nice enough that he did not pick up my ‘tude.

He responded very kindly, “I appreciate your understanding and patience.”

I caught myself. I checked myself. We went on to have a lovely conversation on the short ride home. The kind man dropped me off and thanked me once more. Thanked me?? He said it would be his last ride of the night and how wonderful it was to end his shift meeting someone so genuinely kind. I echoed the same sentiment and we went our separate ways.

As I lay down that night, I was reminded of two things. The first was a meditative practice I read about and the second was a t-shirt I purchased online supporting an important cause.

The Ten Thousand Things is a guided meditation that asks you to bring to focus a situation where someone has wronged you. The exercise goes on to have the meditator consider the ten thousand things that have led this person to act this way. You consider biological factors like age, or pain. You consider their reality, like gender, job, family stressors, or race. And their childhood as well as their significant life events as an adult. As well as mental processes like values, fears, and inherent personality.

I really loved that practice. Remembering it, that is. Practicing it as another story. Meditation is a beast I have yet to master past 22 seconds. It is chatty up there, people. Chick won’t shut up. Anyway, it reminds me to consider what brought others to moments where they acted less than kind. It reminds me, because sometimes I wish others would consider my ten thousand things and offer kindness, for it’s not always obvious when it’s needed most.

I remembered the t-shirt that I bought and now wear proudly. An old friend from high school had shared a campaign he started with his sister, in honor of their brother, who lost his life to depression. Their message is simple: to spread kindness and humility, for you never know the battle another is facing. I love this reminder and being a walking advertisement for kindness when I wear this t-shirt. To purchase their awesome gear (and dress like me), click here.

I thought about my uber driver’s ten thousand things. What had brought him to that evening? Who did he have at home? Was he supporting a spouse and children, or was he driving for his own desires? How had life been good to him? Had it been harsh? Since my interaction was so brief, I was left only to speculate.

Knowing another’s ten thousand things does not matter. We all have our own list, and most carry the heavier things privately. Even if a situation where expressing frustration or irritation feels just, consider the other person’s ten thousand things. Consider it could be the best day of their life (and you’d be the asshole that ruins it). Consider it could be their worst (and you could be the person who offers hope). If you can think of ten thousand ways to handle any given situation, the right choice will always be this: Be kind. Always.

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About the Author | Jennifer Mercuri

Jennifer Mercuri is a blogger who shares her passion for honesty, reflection, and connection through her writing at She is a personal and leadership development junkie, always seeking new ways to grow. Jennifer resides in Philadelphia, where she works as a Bone Marrow Transplant RN. Her work with oncology patients has spurred her desire to say "yes" to life and all of its possibility.

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