Portland, Maine — As the dust clears from the elections and we continue to live with a raging Covid-19 pandemic, I decided to focus on the lighter side of life.
The book of Proverbs tells us, "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine,” and remembering two of my most awkward moments in life always gives me a chuckle.
The first happened at a revolving restaurant atop a hotel in Quebec City. The tables by the windows were revolving, but the center part of the floor was stationary. The center part was where the kitchen, service areas and restrooms were located.
As I left my table to make a visit to the water closet, I stepped off the revolving seating area and was a bit confused when I turned into a hallway where the toilets were. Somehow, I walked into the ladies’ room instead of the gents’ without realizing my error. Only after I entered a stall and shut the door did I hear female voices entering the room, which gave me a clear indication of my mistake.
As I was freaking out, I quickly sat on the toilet seat, raised my feet in the air so they couldn't be seen, grabbed onto the TP holder to balance myself, and prayed as I never had, that no one would try the door to my stall. Fortunately, I wasn’t seen and after these ladies left the room, I was able to quickly exit without anyone else being the wiser for my blunder.
My most humorous moment memory comes from a restaurant lunch meeting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana I had scheduled with a gal named Sue, a sales rep with a travel tour company.
The Alumni Association of my alma mater had scheduled a Holy Land Footsteps of Paul tour with Sue’s tour company that I was helping promote. Because I had just started a new assignment overseeing a hospital in Louisiana, I would not be able to travel with the group. I learned that Sue lived in Covington, LA, and we made an appointment to meet at noon for lunch at a popular restaurant in Baton Rouge to discuss the group's needs. Although Sue and I had never met, we had communicated several times via email.
I had only been on my new job at the Baton Rouge General for a few weeks and was enjoying meeting and working with the staff and providers at the hospital.
At 11:45 a.m. I checked in with the maitre d’ of the restaurant and waited in a corner of the reception area. I would make eye contact with any woman who walked into the restaurant alone to see if she might be my appointment Sue looking for me.
At five minutes to 12, a lady entered the waiting area. I made eye contact with her and she seemed to respond to the eye contact.
"Sue?" I said.
“Yes," she replied.
"I'm Ted, nice to meet you,” I said as I moved to shake her hand.
"Nice to meet you,” she replied.
"They have a table reserved for us, shall we?" I said.
The maitre d’ ushered us to the table and our waiter delivered our menus.
"Anything to drink?" the waiter asked.
"I'll have an ice tea,” I replied, and Sue said, "and I as well.”
Finished looking at the menus, I asked Sue about her background.
“I have a BSN and just started working on my MSN (masters in nursing),” she said.
"Wow, that's astounding,” I replied, thinking to myself - what a coincidence!
Then Sue said, "I used to work at ‘The General’ and I'm interested in working there again.”
I nearly spit my tea out as I tried to process the odds of this travel professional having a nursing degree, having worked at my hospital in the past, and being interested in working there again.
As my mind twirled to process the bizarre circumstances entering its In Box, I wondered if I was suffering a mental breakdown, or a ‘who knows what.’
At this same moment a familiar face approached the table. It was one of my nurse managers at the hospital, Pam, who approached and said, “Ted, what are you doing here?”
Before I could respond, the maitre d’ approached with another lady who said, “Mr. Lewis, my name is Sue, how do you do?”
It turns out that my nurse manager Pam had set up a lunch meeting with her nurse friend Sue, who she used to work with at The General and the lunch meeting was to be a preliminary interview. And it just so happened the meeting was scheduled for noon. It seems that when the nurse Sue walked into the restaurant, she recognized me from my picture in the paper. When I apparently knew her name and introduced myself, she assumed that Pam had invited me to the meeting with them and agreed to join me.
As I explained the unfathomable coincidences to everyone, we all laughed hysterically.
Theodore Lewis is former CEO of Guam Memorial Hospital and has a health care consulting business based out of Portland, Maine. He is collecting stories about lessons learned in life and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.