Sometime in February during my Junior year of high school, my English teacher said something to me that made my classmates laugh — which, of course, made me immediately take what he said as an insult. Later on that day I mentioned it to a friend who said that I shouldn’t have been offended, it was actually a compliment, an honorable one at that. I spent five days a week, two hours a day, and nine months for a whole year with this teacher. He had a good understanding of my personality and my character from the way I behaved in his room and from my opinions during certain discussions we would have as a class. Usually by February, all teachers have a good idea of what kind of person you are. So his comment was a result of several months of observation and contemplation, since he he deemed it fit to say to me.
I don’t remember what exactly caused him to say it, but if my memory serves me correctly, one of my classmates had a slight cold and he sneezed, so I got up and passed him a tissue box. My English teacher looked at me for a few moments and then said, “You’d be a good nurse.”
I was surprised. I’ve been told I’d be a good journalist, a good writer, a good lawyer, a good counselor, and many other career suggestions. But I’ve never been told I’d be a good nurse. The stifled laughs of two or three guys in my class with extremely low IQ’s made me say, “A nurse?” and my teacher persisted, “Yes, you’d be a very good nurse, you’d take good care of patients.” And I didn’t answer, not wanting to pursue the topic in front of my classmates. So we both dropped it.
But now, 6 months later, I have a completely different outlook on this. I’m trying to understand what it was that made me take offense at what was obviously a compliment. What’s wrong with being a nurse? Nurses are the ones who have taken care of our grandparents as they took their last breaths in hospitals, they will care for our parents when they grow old, and they care for us and our families and loved ones when we fall ill. They’re patient, understanding, caring, and gentle; they do everything they can to ensure that you are comfortable even though you are in pain. They don’t just take care of you physically, they take care of you emotionally as well. It’s very common to see nurses calming down scared children if their parents are not around. They do a good job of keeping patients’ fear under control. I think they’re a lot like teachers, underestimated, under-appreciated, and underpaid. They put up with a lot of bullshit too; lots of disrespect and mistreatment is aimed their way as a result of families’ frustration, but they take it with stride. In my opinion, they are every bit as important to the patient as the doctor.
I’m glad my point of view has changed since February, and it was a long, intense process that required me to think twice about a lot of my beliefs, but I’m still wondering what kind of brainwash society puts us through that has conditioned all citizens to having the same views on the same matters. They look down on nurses, garbage-men, street-cleaners, salon workers, and waiters, but not parliament members that steal money and disgrace the country, tarnishing its reputation universally. Is it about status? Is it about money? The more money you make, the more respect you gain? Why isn’t it about honor? Why isn’t honor enough? If a man or a woman is doing something good for society, and he or she is doing it with honor, don’t they deserve as much respect as that trashy parliament member you think so highly of? Where would we be anyway, without these “low-class” workers? I think it’s so wrong that non-Kuwaitis are cleaning the streets of Kuwait. There is no logic or honor behind it. It should be Kuwaitis cleaning up their streets, although they should not be dirty to begin with. But unfortunately, I doubt a great number of Kuwaitis would volunteer to clean up the streets, even though it is our land and our responsibility.
Just something to ponder over.