When I arrived at 6: am in the large hospital kitchen, Rehana was already checking some name tags on the trays against the patient roster. Stainless steel shelves held rows of breakfast trays which we would soon be serving.
‘Hi I’m Sarah.’I tried to sound cheerfull,although I already knew Rehanas reputation for being impossible to work with. ‘I’m scheduled to work with you this week.’’
Rehana, a middle aged woman with graying hair, stopped what she was doing and peered over her reading glasses. I could tell from her expression she wasn’t pleased to see a student worker.
‘’What do you want me to do? Start with the coffee?’’
Rehana sullenly nodded and went back to checking name tags.
I filled the 40-cup pot with cold water and began making the coffee when Rehana gruffly snapped,’ that’s not the way to make coffee. ‘She stepped in and took over.
I was doing it the way our supervisor showed us to do it, ‘I said in astonishment’.
‘’The patients like the coffee better the way I do it’’, she replied curtly.
Nothing I did pleased her. All morning her eagle eyes missed not thing and her sharp words stung her. She literally trailed me around the kitchen.
Later after breakfast had been served and the dishes had been washed, I set up my share of trays for the next meal. Then I busied myself cleaning the sink. Certainly Rehana couldn’t criticize the way I did that.
When I turned around, there stood Rehana, rearranging all of the trays I had just set up!
Totally exhausted, I trudged the six blocks home from the university Hospital late that June afternoon. As a third year university student working my way through school, I had never before encounter anyone like Rehana.
Fighting back tears, I wrestled with my dilemma alone in my room. ‘Lord what do you want me to do? I can’t take much more of Rehana.’’
I turned the possibilities over in my mind. Should I see if my supervisor would switch me to work with someone else? Scheduling was fairly flexible. On the other hand, I didn’t want to be a quitter. I knew my older co workers were watching to see if my actions matched my words.
The answer to my prayer caught me completely by surprise—I needed to love Rehana.
Love her? No way! Tolerate yes but loving her was impossible.
My thoughts racing…….”O Allah, I can’t love Rehana…….”
Working with Rehana the next morning, I ignored the barbs thrown in my direction and did things for Rehana as much as possible to avoid friction. As I worked, I silently began to surround Rehana With a warm blanket of prayers.”O Allah, help me love Rehana.O Allah, bless Rehana.”
Over the next few days an amazing thing began to happen. As I prayed for this irritating woman, my focus shifted from what she was doing to me, and I started seeing Rehana as the hurting person she was. The icy tension began to melt away.
Throughout the rest of the summer, we had numerous opportunities to work together. Each time she seemed genuinely happy to see me. As I worked with this lonely woman, I listened to her-something no one else had done.
I learned that she was burdened by elderly parents who needed her care, her own health problems, and an alcoholic husband she was thinking of leaving.
The days slipped by quickly as I finished the last several weeks of my summer job. Leaves were starting to turn yellow and red, and there was a cool crispness in the air. I soon would be returning as a fulltime university student.
One day, while I was working alone in one of the hospital kitchens,Rehana entered the room. Instead of her blue uniform she was wearing her ordinary casual clothes.
I looked at her in surprise.” Aren’t you working today?”
“I have another job and I won’t be working here anymore, “she said as she walked over and gave me a quick hug.” I just came to say goodbye.” Then she turned abruptly and walked out of the door.
Although I never saw Rehana again, I still remember her vividly. That summer I learnt a lesson I’ve never forgotten.
The world if full of people like Rehana— Irritating, demanding, unlovable-yet hurting inside. I’ve found that love is the best way to turn an enemy into a friend.
Source:Inspiration (vol 2)