The Kindness of Strangers
Date: March 2, 2010
Despite increased workloads, Hopkins employees helped members of the public with problems caused by the blizzard.
If 44 inches of snow and blizzard white-out conditions aren’t bad enough, consider the following: You’re a visiting foreign student adrift in Hopkins Hospital. You’re jet-lagged and your English feels a bit rusty. Because the university cancelled the registration for your classes, you cannot get a student ID badge or gain access to areas with the Internet. Your computer adapter doesn’t work. And, ridiculous as it sounds, you keep thinking how much you want to brush your teeth, but there’s no place to buy toothpaste.
Luckily for Louise Lindqvist, a visiting medical student from Gothenburg University in Sweden, Corporate Security came to her aid. Security staff rustled up toiletries and cafeteria food vouchers and also swiped Lindqvist into the Armstrong Building so that she could use the Internet. The next day, Angela Lee, an executive assistant in Security, followed up to make sure that the 27-year-old student was doing well. Lee arranged for a shuttle bus to take Lindqvist and others in Reed Hall to the Safeway in Canton to buy food and other necessities. The shuttle driver even showed Lindqvist how to find the proper computer adapter at Radio Shack.
“Since then, I have been very happy,” she says. “They saved my week.”
By 9:30 p.m. on the night of the blizzard, neurocritical care nurses Kathy Schenkel and Cyndie Duter were ready for a hot meal and bed. Kathy had been fetching and driving staff to the hospital through terrible conditions since 5:30 that morning.
As she pulled up outside the Fairfield Inn where she was staying, a distraught stranger approached her. His wife was in active labor. The hotel would not allow him to drive because of the emergency ban on nonessential vehicles. The firefighters in the lobby had said they were unable to assist him. Could she drive them to the hospital?
Five minutes later, Schenkel and Duter were back in Schenkel’s Jeep, inching toward Hopkins.
“I told the couple don’t worry, we will not get stuck,” Schenkel recalls. After they arrived safely at the main entrance, after the security guard helped the woman into the lobby, the two nurses sat for a long moment staring at one another, exhausted and exhilarated.
“I don’t know if we were laughing or crying,” Schenkel says. “The whole day was so surreal. But I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”