There’s a white bag of food with a receipt attached standing against the backdrop of a door with a sign on it, one of the many generic gray doors that lead into buildings 1, 2, and 3 on the Fremont campus. The last text reads, “Your order was dropped off. Please refer to this photo your Dasher provided to see where it was left.”
In a blind fury, I rush outside to try and find the food, completely ignoring the picture’s details, other texts and calls explaining how the Dasher tried to reach me, where and how long he was waiting. I also suddenly develop selective amnesia for the disclaimer Door Dash gives about food being left at the door to protect Dashers from COVID exposure.
Circling the buildings like a hungry hawk ready descend on its prey, I’m not only interested in finding my food, but also the Dasher to instruct him on how to do his job. I call him and arrogantly explain my position as a busy physician seeing patients, how he should have waited, how leaving the bag where he did is completely unacceptable. He agrees to drive back to where he left the bag, and calmly suggests I take a look at the picture and instructions he left while he is on his way.
Ironically, we simultaneously arrive at the same door where he left the food. Except there is no white bag. He doesn’t know what to say. I continue to sing the same song of entitlement and how this is all a big inconvenience for me, oblivious to what he must be thinking or feeling. As he leaves, all I can think of is the lunch hour quickly being compressed into 45 minutes, 40 minutes, how I will have to drive out for food, a missed opportunity to catch up on work.
On my way back up to the office, I run into my medical assistant who tells me that a nurse saw the bag and delivered it to me. Taking a seat at my desk, I take a few bites and reflect back on the time between picking up my phone, seeing the texts and sitting here now.
In my contracted state, I conveniently forgot to slow down, to breathe, to see the larger picture. Sure I was hungry and concerned that the food I purchased was not easily accessible, but I completely dismissed the Dasher’s experience (his attempts to communicate the details of where he left the food, his unfamiliarity with the Fremont campus, possible health concerns, other orders he might be trying to fulfill).
Power and privilege can be dangerous when we see only what we want to see, the 10% of the iceberg that seems obvious to us, when we only hear our version of the story. We don’t realize how accepting our narrative as the only truth can cause unnecessary harm. This is where slowing down, taking a few deep breaths, getting curious, and extending compassion beyond one’s own know-it-all mind, prized body, and small heart helps to include others in the circle of awareness.
Power and privilege can also detrimentally impact collaboration and delivery of healthcare. False assumptions and ensuing judgments of a patient, care team member, or any employee of Sutter Health by race, ethnicity, citizenship, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, weight, socio-economic status, education level, job status, etc. to the point where is impairs their safety and wellbeing, are the damaging results of implicit bias.
How you choose to explore the 90% of the iceberg that’s submerged, the dark cold places shaped by causes and conditions of cultural upbringing, societal influence, etc., is up to you. Where do you wish to inspire meaningful change in your sphere of influence? There are plenty of ways to melt the ignorance and a solid, separate sense of self. This writing is an invitation to find out how you wish to proceed in expanding the circle of awareness.
Looking out the office window at the trees, I take in oxygen and release the carbon dioxide confusion I’ve been carrying for the last half hour. Then, I breath in the air of this Dasher’s reality, and breath out a compassionate apology and gratitude for the food in front of me. I pick up my phone to text him.
Thank you. The food found its way to me. Forgive me if I looked, sounded angry. Maybe you are new to this facility and want to limit your exposure. Please stay safe. (prayer hands emoji)