This week, I’ve had a hard time finding my inspiration. In addition to this being just a crazy-busy week, I’ve watched my grandmother decline from what seemed a somewhat stable condition in the hospital to being restrained, sedated, and placed on a ventilator. It doesn’t help that this all happened right before Christmas.
As my family tries to figure out what to do and what our future may look like, I can’t help but think that this could have been prevented. While I am grateful for today’s technology and the comforts and progress it has afforded us, I can’t help but yearn for the days (long before my time) when doctors rode their horses out to homes in the middle of the night to deliver babies. Of course those “good old days” were stressful for those involved, but at least the doctors knew their patients. They lived in community together. In contrast, my grandmother has gotten lost in the shuffle of hundreds of other patients, and one of her nurses actually refused to help her find her pen the other day because she was a nurse and above such piddling duties as actually helping a patient.
I’m not going to apologize for sounding bitter. My grandmother isn’t the only victim, here. The problem is that people are turning into names on charts that aren’t read thoroughly, numbers, statistics. And it’s not just in hospitals, either.
Yet yesterday afternoon, I was reminded that there are places where people are still known as individuals. I had to go to our pharmacy, and it is not a chain store. My parents and I have used them for years, and all the ladies who work there know me and my kids. The parking is atrocious, and they aren’t a superstore, where you can buy a TV while you’re waiting. But if you need a pharmacy, I can’t think of a better place to go. When I go there, they always hug my kids and want to know how I am – not just medically, either. I support this local company and get so much more than a product at a good price.
There is a reason why people push “buying local.” For food, it’s about the healthiest way to go, especially if you can find something like local honey, which helps people fight allergies in their particular regions. But there are other benefits, as well. In a world where it seems that everyone now wants to achieve viral video fame, it’s nice to go to a place where there are real people who know me for me. It’s something that I think has gotten lost in the digital age, kind of like my grandmother getting lost at the hospital. The good thing is that there are people fighting it, people who want to create and maintain real relationships.
I work with my parents at our family’s business, and although there are many hardships that come with running a small business, there are so many benefits. Many people don’t understand, when you’re in a niche market, that you don’t serve everyone. You serve the people whose needs fit your particular skills, and in that way you provide services and products of a higher quality than big businesses that try to please everybody and, in doing so, turn out shoddy work. And we have customers who continue to come to us because they know they’re stimulating the local economy (one family’s economy, in particular!) and that we will remember their names when they come back.
Get to know the restaurant and shop owners of places you frequent. By supporting the local businesses in your community, you will get back some of that humanity that our world is doing a good job of suppressing. And if you find yourself becoming a statistic one day, the relationships that you make at these places will become so much more important than having thousands of followers on your favorite social network.