The director of the nursing home called an urgent staff meeting. He had a perplexing problem, and he wasn’t sure what to do. In addition, the entire staff would need to implement the decision.
“The reason I have called this meeting,” he told the staff, “is that John Samuelson, the new man in Room 132, goes around hugging everyone. Why, this morning, I had no sooner stepped into the nursing home than he hugged me.”
John was the youngest man in the nursing home and the newest resident there. He had been a happy, vibrant man, full of energy, love of life, and love of people. Then an automobile accident left him with some major brain damage. No longer able to take care of himself, he had come to the nursing home. But the wonderful traits of his personality were not squelched by his new challenges. Instead, his sense of social normalcy was destroyed, and his big heart became abundantly evident.
“But John doesn’t hug anyone in a bad way,” Amy, one of the staff members, replied. “He just can’t help himself. He loves everyone.”
“Yeah,” David said. “John’s love and happiness are contagious. He’s lifted the spirit of everyone here, the staff and residents alike. I don’t think there’s a person here who doesn’t enjoy his daily hugs.”
Ellen added her view. “I know I like his hugs. And most people in this place have little to look forward to. Everyone I have talked to says that his daily hug brightens their day.”
The director didn’t budge. “I’m positive that sooner or later we’re going to get a complaint. All we need is just one lady who thinks John is getting fresh, and we’ll have a lawsuit on our hands.”
“But how can you tell John not to hug people?” Amy says. “It would devastate him.”
“I don’t want to hurt John’s feelings,” the director said, “but the welfare of the patients and this facility has to come first.”
“I think John’s hugs are good for the welfare of everyone,” David countered.
“But it’s what the residents think that matters,” the director said.
“I have an idea,” Ellen said. “Maybe Anna could call a meeting of the residents and find out how they feel.”
Anna was an older, no-nonsense lady who had appointed herself head of all the residents, forming what she called “the Resident Council.” At times, she would call a meeting in the main living room, and they would decide what they did and didn’t like about how things were being run. She would then pass that information to the director and the staff, and she never let anyone rest until things were corrected according to the group’s decision.
The director was reluctant to get Anna involved in this issue because he knew once her group made a decision, he would never hear the end of it. But he finally agreed he should seek their input. Ellen was tasked with talking to Anna. By the next day, Anna had called a meeting to get a consensus on what everyone thought of John’s hugs.
The day after the meeting, Anna delivered a written note to the staff and the director indicating the decision of the Resident Council. On the outside of the note was written the words, “By unanimous consent of the Resident Council.” The staff all gathered around to see what the note said. Written inside were just four words to the director and staff, succinctly and clearly stating how the residents felt.
“Mind your own business.”
Thus John continued his daily hugs for everyone.