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Tim Tilley

By , clutchin, CT
Using the semicircle door rather than the automatic sliders, I escorted myself through the stuffy and hectic lobby of the hospital. The volunteer tag pinned to my fire engine red shirt let everyone know why I, such a young person, was meandering through this place. People looked at me with approval; that kind of gaze adults watch you with when they wonder why a 15 year old gives up their precious summer hours to work at a hospital. The recurring answer to that, I want to become a doctor, bounced through my mind every time I saw an official looking adult. I walked swiftly toward the Volunteer office where they determined my work place for the next months, the basement. The basement enclosed very special people unlike any others working throughout the mainstream floors of the hospital, or rather, unlike any others I ever stumbled upon in my life. I deem an elderly man named Tim Tilley as the most extraordinary. Coming from an unsafe place where drugs and money rule his community, Tim fools those who do not appreciate and get to know him. His glistening smile, thoughtful tone of voice, beautiful russet skin and the three wrinkles spreading like fantastical makeup from his eyes to his scalp all create his gentle appearance. Every time I saw him at 8:10am I felt a rush of excitement because I knew he’d leave me with advice even more valuable than the times before. The day Tim told me, “Girl, you can be whomever you wan’ta be, just keep drivin’ forward,” I found myself looking into the eyes of my hero. He lectured me twice a week for the five hours we worked together and helped me understand life through a completely different approach. He usually enlightened me with his luminous stories during break time while we grabbed a quick bite to eat. His reoccurring snack consisted of a traditional two-cracker package of saltines with an occasional slab of peanut butter on top. He acted so much more satisfied with his job in the hospital than the others working in the basement; and this specific attitude led me to feel even more intrigued about his being. No one understood the kind of friendship we developed, but I liked it that way.

Soon my last day of work crept up and I did not yet feel ready to leave my friendship with Tim behind. Saying our goodbyes seemed easier than I suspected because the impact we had on one another was apparent, and did not require the “thank you’s” or “I’ll always remember you’s” that some people exchange when saying farewell. As I walked steadily toward the Volunteer office one last time, I found myself feeling as if I belonged in the hospital and did not need a volunteer pin to permit me. I also noticed that the adults no longer gazed; probably because I no longer felt that “official looking people” are the ones to impress. Now, I stroll by them with poise thinking about how much changed from my first day here. I know the real people worth knowing are those who you least expect. I am so grateful for my experience in the underground world of the hospital, mainly because I found something special that even the most dignified of people do not understand.





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