This Week Health
April 17, 2024

The Practice of Gratitude

One of the things we do at This Week Health is share a brief reflection during our weekly staff meetings. Recently, I shared a story about something I am very grateful for and I wanted to relate it to you as well.

I think it happened the summer after my 21st Birthday. I had been kicked out of my apartment for not paying rent. I’d lost my job. I was couch-surfing with friends, but mostly living out of my 1977 Datsun B210 with rusted-out floorboards. After selling most of my stuff, and doing some odd jobs, I’d finally scraped together enough cash to get a brake job done on that car (WAY past due, it was dangerous to drive) so, I went to a local shop to get the repairs done.

As I was sitting in the garage, next to this other kid who was driving a REALLY nice car, I finally worked up the nerve to compliment his ride and ask him what he did for a living. “I’m in the Army,” He said, and he went on to tell me about the military’s college tuition-assistance program and several other military benefits. But it was the tuition-assistance program that did it for me, really. I wanted to go to college, but I had no way to pay for it. When the repair on my Datsun were finished, I drove directly to the recruiter’s office.

Ultimately, I enlisted in the Air Force, where I tested (luckily!) into the comm/computer career field. I went to university at night and finished my undergrad degree while serving full-time. After four years enlisted, I was offered a commission as an officer – in the hospital administration career field – which made me the “hospital administrator who knew a lot about computers.” That was WAY before the term Chief Information Officer had been coined.

Back to the thing I’m grateful for – that Army guy in the brake shop. One random dude, being nice, and sharing a quick story with me. If it wasn’t for him, I would have never finished my degree(s), or learned about computers, or worked in healthcare IT – and this whole crazy LUCKY ride that’s been my life would have looked totally different.

I don’t know his name and I’d bet he didn’t give our conversation a second-thought. But on a pretty regular basis I think about him, and I send good “thank-you vibes” his way.

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