September 30, 2014

Our UPS delivery guy Mark is retiring today.

People in the neighborhood are taking up collections and planning to put balloons on their mailboxes to wish him farewell.

Why? Because he’s the best delivery person ever.

Mark remembers that you have small kids and doesn’t ring the doorbell midday because he assumes it’s naptime.

Mark knows that you moved to a different street in the neighborhood and offers to deliver large packages to your new house instead of the old one to save you the time and effort.

Mark manages to drop a package off, make small talk, tell a joke and ask about your vacation last week in the 10 seconds he’s on your porch.

Mark always seems to know exactly what’s in your package (ahem…50 lbs of dog food…sorry Mark!)

Mark says encouraging – or just funny – words to joggers as they run up big hills.

Mark knows that you had a death in the family or are going through chemo treatment and somehow manages to make you laugh on days when laughing doesn’t come easy.

He knows everyone, he waves when he drives by and he genuinely cares.

He’s been delivering to our neighborhood for 15 years, and even wrote us a farewell message with some stats (1,225,000 packages delivered, 775,000 stops, 168,750 miles driven in our neighborhood + at least 20 dog bites (!)).

How does he do it? I have no idea.

The thing is, Mark makes a difference.

People in the neighborhood notice when he’s on vacation. We all know that he’s retiring, and we’re sad to see him go. Multiple people are ordering things online just so they can say goodbye before he retires. There was a big sign in front of our community building wishing him a happy retirement.

So why am I posting this here?

Mainly because I think it’s nice to reinforce that there are people like Mark out there :). But also because I think we can learn lessons from a UPS driver like Mark.

In healthcare, we sometimes get caught up in mechanisms. This (herb/drug/remedy/procedure) does that.  What treatments or formulas are used for this. All of that is important, of course. And at the same time we know people’s lived experiences are influenced by so much more than the “take xxx for xxx” model.

Feeling like someone else cares about you is a big deal.

Sometimes we forget to show people that we care about them even as we’re tending them with our research, recommendations and questions.

If Mark can do it in mere seconds with each person along his route,  I know you can do it with whomever you encounter in your work.

It doesn’t have to take a lot of time and effort to let people know that you care, or to make them feel like they are part of a community instead of a customer who you’re paid to serve.  This – in and of itself – is healing.

Whether you’re working at a health food store, seeing private clients, practicing as a physician or delivering packages you can do this too.

Mark has literally seconds – no more than a minute – with each of his customers and makes everyone feel special. 

What can you do to make the people you work with/for feel acknowledged and cared for?

About Camille Freeman, LDN, RH (she/her)

Hi there! I'm a clinical herbalist and licensed nutritionist specializing in fertility and menstrual health. I run the Monday Mentoring community of practice and also offer continuing education programs for highly-trained herbalists and nutritionists (Check out this year's Deep Dive!). I'm also a professor in the Department of Nutrition at the Maryland University of Integrative Health, where I teach physiology, pathophysiology, and mindful eating.

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