Mary, The Hat Lady

I was feeling pretty sorry for myself when I first saw her.  I was shivering in the waiting area of St Paul Gastroenterology.  I hadn’t eaten in what seemed like for-EVER-er.  Ok. That’s not exactly true.  I had a clear liquid diet for part of the day before. woo-hoo.

I was there for a colonoscopy.   My dad died of colon cancer at an early age, so I am at risk.  I was supposed to be checked…oh, five years prior? Maybe, ten.  But, who’s counting, right?  Who wants to sign up for THAT, with the prep and…you know. (more here)  Plus, truth be told, I was scared.  Maybe I was too late.

My husband, who I think had a sausage egg McMuffin on our way to the clinic, was texting.  I think he was trying to arrange to have lunch with a friend while I was undergoing the procedure.  Nice.  I had expected him to pace in the waiting room and maybe wring his hands a little.  Now, I’m hungry, shivering, scared, and a little pissed off.  When was someone going to call me in and get this over with?

I’m glad I didn’t see the squirrel after I got the drugs.

Then I saw her. I think everybody did.  Even Rollo looked up from his cell phone.

She was hard to miss – what with the squirrel on her head. I gotta be honest here.  At first, I thought maybe there was a mental health clinic next door.  Then I saw her scrubs.  Maybe she was a nurse, heck, maybe she was the doctor.  Didn’t matter.

“I want her” I said to Rollo.

Like magic, like she read my mind, she called me!

We went back to the little cube-ies to get ready.  She put in my IV and had me change into a gown.  I expected all that.  I didn’t expect the warm blanket or the warm smile.  I asked her about the hat.  I don’t remember exactly what she said – something about life being too short not to have fun – but I remember how I felt.  I was warm and somebody cared.  If she’d have had a cookie or something for me, things would have been perfect.

My test turned out fine.  I got to eat (Rollo made me honey toast when we got home).  I forgot all about the prep and the procedure, but I didn’t forget Mary.

In fact, I sort of stalked her.  IMO, not enough people go out of their way to make a stranger feel better.  Not many people seem to really ENJOY their jobs.  Even fewer people can pull off a hat like that.  I wanted to know more about her.

She graciously agreed to let me “interview” her and show off some of her groovy hats.

Here’s what I learned:

  • She’s been wearing the hats for about twelve years.  Every day.
  • She has about sixty hats!
  • She loves her job, her co-workers, and mostly her patients.
  • She did say life is too short not to have fun.
  • She wears the hats to make people FEEL better, to let them laugh, to take their mind off whatever procedure they are having.

I got her to be my friend.  On facebook anyway.  Turns out her page has this on it.

Ive learned that people will forget what you said…

People will forget what you did

….. But people will never forget how you made them feel.

Maya Angelo

Mary, if that’s your motto, you ROCK it.  You made me feel better.  Not just about the procedure, but about people. We could all take a lesson from you.  I know there are patients in the clinic every day  for something more serious than a screening.   I’m glad you are there for them. I hope they laugh.  And I hope you have fun.




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