When is the last time you were about to save someone’s life and thought, “oh, wait, I can’t save this person’s life! I just dyed my hair!” The answer is very much “never.” Mary Walls Penney found herself faced with this absurd question in real life as she was checking out at the register.
Penney was just coming off of a shift and was still dressed for the job, name tag and all. The cashier noticed the facility name and asked Penney what she did there.
I’m a nurse.” Penney said.
The woman apparently had a lot of opinions about the profession and didn’t stop to think that she may have been misguided. “I’m surprised they let you work there like that. What do your patients think about your hair?” But she didn’t stop there. She asked an older woman standing in the line what she thought about Penney’s hair.
The kind woman tried to stay out of it, confused at being put on the spot. “Nothing against you honey, it’s just not for me.”
The cashier kept talking, shocked that a nursing facility would allow such a thing, and that even when she worked fast food, hair color wasn’t allowed at all.
Penney walked away from the situation as amicably as possible, but she has a message for anyone who thinks that hair color would ever get in the way of patient care:
I can’t recall a time that my hair color has prevented me from providing life saving treatment to one of my patients. My tattoos have never kept them from holding my hand and as they lay frightened and crying because Alzheimer’s has stolen their mind.
My multiple ear piercings have never interfered with me hearing them reminisce about their better days or listening to them as they express their last wishes. My tongue piercing has never kept me from speaking words of encouragement to a newly diagnosed patient or from comforting a family that is grieving.
So, please explain to me how my appearance, while being paired with my cheerful disposition, servant’s heart, and smiling face, has made me unfit to provide nursing care and unable to do my job!”
Bravo, Penney. Well said.
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