The Bargain

By Rose Williamson
North Carolina, USA

The Bargain

In 1970, when I went to nursing school, it was like academic boot camp. Every day from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., we were either in class or at the hospital providing patient care. The requirements were strict, the level of performance required was not negotiable, and it was this little country girl’s first time away from home and living in a dorm. I was lonely, overwhelmed, and feeling very much out of my league.

For three months, I struggled with anatomy, pharmacology, chemistry, and clinical practice classes. I had always had a fairly easy time in high school and consequently had never developed very good study habits. Naturally, this was reflected in my test scores.

About three months into my first year, I felt I couldn’t go on with nursing school, but I also felt too ashamed to go home. This was a gut-wrenching decision because my mother had not completed high school, and her dream was for me to have an education.

With a heavy heart, I began reading want ads, thinking that if I could find a job, get an apartment, and have a plan, my mother would be more likely to accept my decision without too much fuss. I made several calls and spoke with folks who were quick to realize that I had very little to offer. I was feeling even worse when I called an employment agency, and a kind female voice began to question me about my situation.

After 10 or 15 minutes, she calmly urged me to stay at school until the end of the first semester. She promised that at the end of the semester, I could call her back and she would help me find a job if I still wanted one. She said everyone has scary times in their life, but that most work out if we let them. She didn’t criticize or make light of my fears. She offered kind words and encouragement and made a bargain with me. I agreed to try.

She was right. Give it some time, do your best, and it will work out. I have been a nurse for 30 years. Often when I sign R.N. after my name, I think of her. She figured out the right things to say at just the right time to a scared child. My mom never knew about this because another “mom” filled in for her at just the right time.

Originally published as HeroicStories #356 on Nov 11, 2002

5 thoughts on “The Bargain”

  1. I love this story. That woman was a career counselor, not just an employment worker. I’m sure she impacted many lives and it is so good to hear about one. Thanks for sharing.

  2. This is a lovely story that brought home to me why I read this email every time it arrives. It was nice that the author had someone who was willing to support and listen at a time when she needed it the most. But it is also nice that the author recognised – and continues to remember- this assistance, something that the person on the other end of the phone might have forgotten. It takes good people to do the things that shape us, but also takes good people to acknowledge the ways in which small actions make a huge difference in our lives. Thank you Heroic Stories for continuing to provide that lesson, in small ways, one email at a time.

  3. I’m glad Rose had the good fortune to make contact with the employment agency worker and that she decided to get her nursing degree.
    My wife came from Cuba as a refugee when she was 10 years old and knew absolutely no english when she got her. To compound the problem her father died about a month after he brought her to the states and she ended up in a foster home. After we got married she told me how she had always wanted to be a nurse but had only a GED, not even a high school diploma. I encouraged her and with the help and encouragement of a doctor she was working for she went back to school and got her nursing degree. I had to help her with her work by proofreading her papers before she turned them in to her professors but she graduated at the upper level of her class. She is now a Nurse Administrator at her hospital and has the respect of her patients & their families, her peers, her supervisors and the corporation she works for. She loves her job and can’t imagine doing anything else.
    People like Rose and my wife are the ones who make healthcare what it is in the U.S. today!

  4. Loud cheers and hurrahs for that employment counselor — and to you, R.N.! How totally heartwarming to read a story of success like this one!

  5. What a fabulous story! As a parent, it is my hope that for my kids and everyone’s, that in tough times there are compassionate people to help guide them. For a variety of reasons, not all kids will reach out to their family, so I applaud the other “Mom” that provided the encouragement needed. To the author, thank you for sharing and sticking with it!


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