Leading Thoughts

Short of Breath…and Cash!

Sometimes gratitude for the basics like clean air are more important than money!

Sometimes gratitude for the basics like clean air are more important than money!

Being asthmatic, you learn to appreciate some of the most basic human needs like breathing. You also learn to appreciate the medical assistance and treatments that have become availabale in times of emergency, should you experience an attack. Last night I put the system to the test through my own lack of planning, and the adventure that unfolded was a very revealing one.

Sometime in the afternoon I realised that I was running short of my medication. I live in a what can only be described as a very modern and first world environment. We have clean running water, electricity, roads, cars, digital television, broadband internet etc. What we don’t have it seems, is a 24 hour pharmacy close by. So, at 2am when I experienced a slight attack, and then panicked that I didn’t have my medication, I did what any self respecting human would do. I went on a search for a chemist.

The closest pharmacy, and only one that was open 24 hours, was almost fifty kilometres away. I dealt with that reality quickly and jumped in the car, rushing off to the chemist. Thirty minutes later, I panted my way into the building and grabbed my medication. Feeling relieved already, I handed over my bank card to finalise the transaction. That’s when the trouble began. First, the card was declined on the handheld device. “Not to worry” they said, “we have a offline machine.” I was feeling more relieved. But when that was aslo unable to process the payment, I started to breath less easy.

After being pointed to an ATM I thought,  cash is really king, so again I felt some relief. But when I tried to draw cash, all systems were offline, and there I was “stuck” trying to acquire some very critical medication. I scrounged through my wallet and was beginning to feel a little panicky again, but just as I was about to beg for some asistance from the shop owner. A total stranger walked up to me and said, “can I help with paying for your medicine?” In today’s cynical, and often suspicious world, I was amazed. The sense of gratitude I experienced was overwhelming. The system had crashed around me, but the basic humanity that stepped up was fantastic.

Even though I managed to gather enough cash lying around my car and in my wallet to make up for some of the necessary medicine, this man’s offer stayed with me as I drove back home. Sitting up, and breathing easier at 4am, I kept thinking about this adventure. The events that unfolded in front of me were a true life lesson. And this is how I see it:

Get to know your environment if you rely on things in an emergency (know where your options are).

Stay calm at all times. It doesn’t help to panic.

Learn to negotiate and never assume anything. The end result is often what you make it.

People are human. Humanity exists in all of us. Do not always be suspicious of others. See what’s good in them.

Finally, be grateful for what you do have. Taking your next breath could just be the most important thing in your life now.



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As a columnist and speaker I have been able to connect with so many interesting people who have experienced wonderful adventures in life. I am fascinated with the limitless power of people and try to reflect my own experiences and thoughts through these pages.

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