This past weekend, I was in Washington D.C., attending the final workshop to complete the first half of my CTI Training. What I thought was allergies ended up being a terrible cold.
By day three, I was miserable and at the peak of it; chills, headache, incredibly stuffed up and fatigued. Weeks before, a wonderful classmate and dear friend of mine had offered to share her room with me so we could split costs and here I was spreading my germ infested self all over her.
After falling asleep at 9 pm on that last night, I woke several times in a fit of coughing. At around 11:15 pm, I realized neither of us would get any sleep if I continued, but was helpless to stop it! I decided to get my day clothes back on and walk down the street to the Rite Aid, not thinking to bring my phone. I stood in front of the obviously closed and darkened pharmacy in a panic realizing I had no way to GPS another store close by. Did I mention I was miserable and that it was almost midnight in a strange city?
Feeling defeated and anxious about the looming night of sleep disturbances I approached a woman at the front desk of the hotel. She told me my best option was a 24 hour Walmart 20 minutes away. I quickly calculated my round-trip to include going back up to my 12th floor hotel room to retrieve my phone and felt the hot tears pricking my eyes. I felt like such a baby. I just wanted to go back to bed and sleep.
Suddenly a small brown man with a uniform and a hotel badge who was standing in the shadows approached me, and with broken english said,
"Come, I take you... 7-Eleven, we get medicine for sleep."
I wasn't sure what was happening, so I just groggily followed him out the door and into the night.
"I be your protector, and we get you medicine at 7-Eleven."
He led me down the street and around a couple of corners into a seedy 7-Eleven and walked me right up to the aisle with various packages of over-the-counter medicines. The NyQuil bottle looked like it might have had a halo around it, but I was too tired to care and gratefully grabbed it and headed for the register.
Once we were back out in the street I calculated how much I should tip him for such a valuable service in the middle of the night. I asked his name and where he was from. He said his name was Yazdan and that he had lived in Boston for many years and that all of his family was still back there. He came to D.C. for better pay as a hotel employee eight months prior. He said he missed Boston and this family and when I asked if he liked the area, he said that he felt the people in this city had not been welcoming or particularly kind to him. I told him my name and shared my gratitude with him and how much it meant to me that he should extend such kindness to me and as we approached entrance to the hotel, I tried to hand him a couple of $20's. He refused to take it and just looked at me with his kind brown eyes and said,
"No, thank you. Please, you just feel better and go to sleep now."
I insisted, and never even glancing at the money, he insisted right back that I go to bed.
"Goodnight, Monica, sleep well and get better soon."
I made my way back up to the room, took the medicine and a short time later, fell asleep without any more coughing. My roomie woke blissfully unaware the next morning that anything had happened in the night.
Yazdan, I discovered, is a Muslim name that means merciful and kind.