The door slowly opens to my nurse's office and there stands a small, older man dressed in a plaid shirt and bib overalls.
Glancing up, he says "If you can, take my blood pressure."
Releasing the pressure from the cuff, I already know there is a serious problem.
"Any pain?" I ask.
"Naw, just a little bit of hurt up in my chest bone last night," he replies.
I know what those words really mean from the people in this mill. They don't complain, don't expect pity, and always show up for work. I know this man will be hard as granite to crack. The sparring begins.
"You need to go to the doctor."
His lips tighten as he crosses his arms across his chest. "I don't need to go nowhere. I'm alright."
"You need to go today."
"I'll go tomorrow."
"Not tomorrow; today - now."
"I got to get to work."
"I'll call your boss."
"My shift starts in 15 minutes."
"They will cover for you until you get back."
His arms loosen slightly and he nods his head, "Go downstairs; get my wife. Tell her we gotta go."
He probably had the heart attack sometime during the night when he felt "a little bit of hurt."
Later, from the local emergency room, he is airlifted 50 miles away and prepared for surgery.
A few months passed when my office door opened; the same plaid shirt and neatly ironed bib overalls. Without acknowledging me he walks to the back table and has a seat.
He rolls his sleeve up and looks up at me with a slight grin and states firmly: "Take my blood pressure. Wouldn't be here tweren't for you."
I have had compliments before and after that day, but I defy anyone to top the beauty of that one.
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