UNGRATEFULThe chart sits on the rack outside the door.I rifle through it to find the Chief Complaint,Moaning and groaning inside about my long day,My pounding head,My itchy eyes,My aching calves,The nail I broke this morning,The guy who never called me back.Singing the blues,Feeling sorry for myself,For my poor overworked bodyFor my cluttered and clouded mindFor all the things in my lifeThat aren't perfect.The patient suffers from back pain.No different from me, I think,Every day I wake up with sore muscles from thegym,Sore shoulders from sitting hunched over studying.My eye skims the pageAnd I notice her date of birth...It's the same as mineSame month,Same daySame year.I open the door,Nearly recoiling with surprise.At twenty two years old,I'm still a kidBarely able to take care of myself.This woman I see,Is the same age as me?Her hair is disheveled unraveled yarnNext to my locks, smooth and coifed;Her teeth are cracked and missingNext to my pearly whites, straightened by braces;Her clothes are big and bulky, layers to protect herfrom the coldNext to my silky dress and white doctor's coat.Her eyes struck to the root of my soul.Not even her thick glasses couldShield their dull pain,Their tired black circlesMirrored in my cool green pools.I take a history to discover the problem.She works in a warehouse,Night shift till dawn.It's dusty in thereAnd she lifts heavy boxesOf pampers and formulaEight hours a clip.The pain is so bad she can't sleep at night,She thinks it's a muscle she pulled."I need a letter for my work," she insists."Otherwise, they might fire me."When I touch her back she yelps in agony.The muscles are pulpy and tender.I scribble my notes with a smileThat masks my dismay.As I leave, I catch my eyes in a mirror.They are rightly filled with shameAt my petty mournings.I did nothing to be bornHealthyLovedSecure...Pure circumstance, is all.She did nothing to be bornPoorTiredProne to sickness...Pure circumstance, is all.We were born on the same day,My astrological sister,But my stars were lucky.I am not thin.I am not rich.I am not beautiful.My life is not easy.I am not perfect.But today was a signTo stop thinking about what I'm notAnd to use what I amTo help others.-Janice M. Mehnert
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Personal Reflections, Service-learning, Janice M. Mehnert, Related Service-Learning Experience