by Dr. Grant Scarborough
Black Friday comes first, then Cyber Monday, and finally Giving Tuesday.
Giving Tuesday is the day people give online to local non-profits. Here at MercyMed, we want money to be given, but sometimes we want other gifts too – like a laptop.
Allow me to explain. Our story begins on Cyber Monday, 11/26.
It was late in the morning when a couple of the staff yelled at me as I was walking out of an exam room. Someone was having a seizure in the waiting room. I peeked through the window and saw Dr. Joyce Kim and two other staff members attending to the patient. They had it under control, so I went to the next patient. When I walked out of the room I noticed Joyce was still in the waiting room. The patient was slowly coming out of a seizure and not minimally responsive. Four of our staff were trying to get him into a wheelchair – so I went out to help. After a few minutes we transitioned him to a wheelchair. He was pushed back into an exam room after 20 minutes of chaos out front. We settled back into work, and that is when Joyce realized her laptop computer was gone. This was bad. She takes this with her to every patient appointment to access notes, charts, and more. This was bad.
At once we realized what happened, and even who took the computer: I will refer to him as “Buddy.” In our neighborhood, things that are stolen get moved quickly – mostly for money that would be used for drugs. We also knew most of that occurred next to the local gas station. Our front desk lady took off her high heels and ran to the gas station only to find Buddy leaving in a car. We replayed the video security camera, called his phone, went to his home and called the police. Buddy was gone and so was the computer.
Giving Tuesday, 11/27.
Emails and Facebook posts went out encouraging others to give, but deep down inside all I wanted was for Joyce’s computer to be returned. As Tony (the Office Manager) and I discussed a replacement computer for Joyce, our nurse came in. She told us she had spotted Buddy a half block away. Tony and I jumped in the car and saw him waiting at the bus stop. We tried to do a quick U turn, but the traffic was too heavy and then the local bus passed us. It stopped and he got on and left. “Tony! Follow that bus!”
*Editor’s Note: Do not follow known thieves. This is dangerous.*
We finally caught up and went in to private investigator mode. We did not stay back a safe distance, we were right on the tail of the bus. When the bus stopped we stopped. When the bus started, we started. We did not know when he would get off, but we were ready for a long stakeout. Eventually the bus pulled forward and Buddy was left behind with a backpack in hand.
With Tony’s experience in the military, he was even keeled. My heart was pounding and I was ready for a chase. Tony has this uncanny ability to make people confess of anything they have done or even think about doing. He gets out, and approaches him.
“Sir, were you at MercyMed yesterday?”
“Did you take a computer?”
“Sir, I have cameras all over the waiting room. I have you on video taking the computer and walking out with it. I can give it to the police but I want to ask you again. Did you take the computer?”
Long pause, “Yes.”
“What did you do with the computer?”
“I sold it to a man in a white van outside the gas station.”
“Well” Tony said, “That was Dr Kim’s computer and she needs it back.”
“That’s my doctor!” he responded with strange excitement.
“She needs it back and she needs it back today.”
“OK OK OK “ he responded “I’ll get it back today.”
And he walked off.
This Giving Tuesday we were hoping for donations, and Buddy to do the right thing. The odds were low. He told us he sold it to a man in a white van. He probably already spent the money on drugs, and the man in the van was probably sitting outside a pawn shop right now.
We told the news to the staff back at the office and came up with plan B. We can check with the police and call the pawn shops. Joyce had activated her find computer app so that it would go off once connected to the internet. They cancelled all information someone could find on the computer. We found a spare computer and all went back to work.
Billy informed me that donations were coming in. We celebrated, but Giving Tuesday had a sadness to it. The Lord gives and takes away – could we be content with where the Lord had us today? We had donations, but a lost computer.
Later that afternoon, just before we closed, the waiting room door opened and closed and then opened and closed again. Something was left at the front desk for Joyce. It was her computer – in perfect condition! Our front desk lady went out after him again and this time caught up to him – Joyce came running as well. Buddy apologized to Joyce, and she thanked him for doing the right thing to return it. Tony went outside and shook his hand – thanking him for returning the computer.
“We will see you at your next appointment, Buddy” they said.
All of our emotions were mixed this Giving Tuesday. We were sad he would steal her computer while another patient was seizing. But we were proud that he would make the tough decision to find that computer and I assume buy it back to give it to Joyce. I assume addiction would drive this behavior. Yet in the mess of addiction, we saw hope of a man who desired to do right. I cannot help but hope this decision to do right might be the one thing he needs to bring change in his life. He made the right decision and he realized the joy of doing good.
He gave us the computer back and maybe we gave him a glimpse of what his life can become.
Giving Tuesday worked out okay.