Day 21 – 500 Word Challenge:
“Time to get honest and vulnerable. Share with us an embarrassing fact, an awkward truth, something you wish didn’t happen but did. Or tell us about failure, a time when you totally messed up, and what you learned from it.”
A long time ago (never ask a lady her age) I was the Bone and Tissue Transplant Coordinator for the American Red Cross (ARC). In spite of dealing with grieving families, the job became one of my all time favorites. As a result, of a massive education campaign, and the success of the program, I drew the attention of the local hospital’s Chief Operating Officer (COO).
I met with him, expecting to discuss how the hospital could help support the bone, and tissue program. Instead, he offered me the job of Director of the Same Day Surgery facility.
I took a leap of faith as well as the position and in short order, brought the facility from the red into the black and updated it with a new look. As part of the renovation, I decided families needed something to occupy their time while waiting. So, in a brilliant stroke of genius, (at least in my mind), I purchased movies and made them available for waiting family members.
Our library of videos (yes, videos) included the latest, most popular films, like Moonstruck (Cher’s Oscar winning performance) and Kevin Costner’s No Way Out.
I arrogantly believed everyone would be thrilled to have something better to do than reading outdated magazines. Only, I forgot a few things about these two movies in particular, and it never dawned on me to refresh my memory or consider the demographics of the patrons frequenting our waiting room. We had the latest amenities available to our families and I was proud (Pride comes before a fall).
Until the morning, I received a call from the COO.
“Sheila, I’ve received a call from Reverend…. He was upset and offended by the adult movie playing in SDS’s lobby; especially given there were children.”
My heart stopped, but my mind raced through the list of movies. I didn’t recall anything offensive. A couple might contain a bit of spicy language, but nothing too bad (I thought).
“Are you showing movies it the waiting room?” he asked.
I swallowed. “Yes, sir, but the people requesting to watch a movie make their own selection,” I explained.
“What are they rated? The Rev. mentioned a limousine scene, he said it was X-rated.”
I didn’t have a clue. My mind had gone to mush. “ I don’t recall anything remotely X-rated, but if someone has complained or finds one of them offensive, I’ll remove it.”
“Well, I liked to view it.” Oh, shit!
“The Rev. may be making a mountain out of a molehill. Bring me the movie, I’ll review it and then we’ll decide what we need to do.”
“Which movie did he mention?”
I heard papers moving as if he was looking for something. “No Way Out. I’ll expect you to bring it up as soon as you can get a break.”
“Yes, sir.” I grabbed the movie from the lobby, a video player, locked myself in my office, and fast-forwarded the tape until I reached the scene in the limo. Oh My God! How did I miss that and what the hell was I thinking.
I walked the tape up the stairs to the COO’s office, certain I’d be fired. I thought he’d view only the questionable section, but no, he wanted to take it home and watch the whole damn thing. I left wondering if I should pack my things.
He summoned me to his office bright and early the next morning.
“Close the door, please.” I stared at the video player sitting beside his desk and waited.
“I watched the movie, and I gotta say that was some limo ride. Do you remember it?”
I played dumb. “No, sir.”
“Well, the only way I can describe it is to show you.” He reached toward the equipment.
I prayed the floor would devour me. “That won’t be necessary, sir. I’ll take your word for it. The movie will no longer be available and I’ll personally view the others to make sure nothing of this nature will happen again.”
“The Rev. was pretty upset.”
“I’ve written him a letter of apology.”
“Good.” He stared at me a moment, then broke into a smile. “ That’ll be all.”
I didn’t lose my job that day, but I did learn a valuable lesson. Perception is reality and people don’t always perceive things the same way. What one person (me) sees as a love scene, another person views as pornography (the Reverend). The intent of my actions was good, but the execution was lousy. I’ve never forgotten the experience, what I learned, or the movies.
Those movies, based on today’s standards, are mild, but back then, they crossed the line and I had been the one carrying the ball. I’ve always been ahead of my time, but sometimes it gets you tackled or thrown out of the game.