By Larry Peterson
It seems that the fear of litigation has triggered the ongoing evaporation of "Common sense" What triggered my need to defend "common sense" are three separate incidents that I experienced over the past month. As you will see, each of these incidents, though simple and uneventful, not only rejected the use of "common sense" but the collateral damage from these rejections was the trashing of the Golden Rule.
My wife was in the hospital during the middle of March. She had been taken off life-support and was in a room breathing on her own but unconscious. I was there with her and her head was bent over onto her shoulder. I thought I might try to lift her head and make her more comfortable. However, I was unable to do it by myself as she had a large CPAP mask strapped on.
Just then a young lady came into the room, gave me a big smile and asked, "Is there anything I can do to help you?"
I was thrilled at her timing and I explained how I just needed a bit of help repositioning my wife to make her more comfortable. The young lady shrugs and sheepishly says, "Oh sir, I'm sorry. I'm a volunteer and we are not allowed to touch the patients."
I quickly found out that the volunteers could not feed anyone, touch anyone and can basically do nothing more than be a "gopher" for the nurses or get me a cup of coffee. As far as helping the woman in the bed, NOT allowed.
I am an EMHC and I bring Holy Communion to about a half dozen seniors in an assisted living facility on Sundays. One of my communicants had five or six newspapers in front of his door. I picked them up and headed to the main desk where a security guard was stationed. I dumped the papers on the countertop and said, "Hey Tony, what's going on down in 103. There is no answer and all his newspapers are outside his door?"
"Oh yeah, Mr. A is in the hospital. They took him earlier this week." Tony refused to tell me what hospital. So I asked, "How come no one picks up all these newspapers?"
He shook his head and shrugged, "We are not allowed to touch anyone including their “stuff”. In fact, if someone falls right in front of my desk I am not allowed to help them up or touch them. I have to call 911. If I touch them I will lose my job."
In my standard inbred NYC manner I say, "C'mon Tony. Gimme a break--whaddaya mean you can't help them. That's ridiculous."
He reached under the countertop and pulled out a sheet of paper. It was the rules and regulations from the facility. "Here, you think I'm making this up?" Everything he told me was on that sheet of paper.
I have been getting three to four calls a day from a number in area code 954. I have no idea where that might be and I do not care. In addition, the caller(s) never spoke. They just disconnected. I never answer the phone unless the caller identifies themselves but the relentless pursuit from area code 954 eventually beat me into submission. I caved and answered the phone. A pleasant, melodic voice floats into my ear saying, "Is this Mr. Peterson?"
My immediate response (I love to get a bit flippy) was, "Ya think. You have been calling me over and over and over never leaving a message and now you want to know who I am? Who are YOU?"
“Heather” introduced herself and told me she was calling to see if I wanted to renew my newspaper subscription. "Heather, are you telling me that different phone solicitors from your paper have been calling me three to four times a day and not one of you left a message? Do I have that right?"
"Uh, yes, I'm sorry Mr. Peterson. We are not allowed to leave a message."
There is nothing I can add to that. These "professional" people will call folks up all day long and never leave a message. They are not allowed. Whew! That, to me, that is harassment. Yet, it is justified because it is a "rule" or "policy" of an invisible entity called a “company”.
Natural Law , present in the heart of each man and established by reason, is universal in its precepts and its authority extends to all men. It expresses the dignity of the person and determines the basis for his fundamental rights and duties." CCC1956
I don't know about you but if I see someone fall I will (if possible) help them up. If I lose my job because of my actions--so be it. If I call someone and I hear a recorded response, I will leave a message. The Golden Rule and “common sense” go hand in hand. This other stuff is “madness”.