It would be easy to assume that the extraordinary gift in this story is a car, a low-mileage Chevrolet Caprice to be exact, but that assumption would be incorrect.
For Carrie Head, an Environmental Services employee at Polk Medical Center, the real gift is friendship, understanding, acceptance and a life-affirming approach to loving your neighbor.
Carrie had been without a vehicle of her own for five years after their nearly 15-year-old car suffered a mechanical failure that rendered it useless. Her husband borrowed a vehicle from a family member for transportation to work, but depending on just one mode of transportation proved difficult since she and her husband work at different places at different times. That left Carrie either to pay for transportation or rely on friends and family for rides to work and appointments.
About six months ago, Carrie began telling her co-workers that she was in the market for an inexpensive used car, something she could depend on to get her to and from work and contribute to her family's income. One of those co-workers was Barbie Townsell, a nurse practitioner on Polk Medical Center's West Wing, who has worked for Floyd for 33 years.
Barbie and Carrie have become friends over the past few years, after meeting first at Floyd Medical Center, and later reconnecting at Polk. Carrie is the housekeeper on the West Wing, and Barbie always makes sure to include her in celebrations, discussions and updates. Carrie said Barbie has become a mentor of sorts. Barbie is a good listener, supportive and encouraging, but what happened next still moves Carrie to tears when she talks about it.
Not long after their conversation, Barbie told Carrie she had a used car that she didn't need any more and produced the title and a bill of sale for $1. She also made sure the car, which only had 62,000 miles on the odometer, had a new battery and good tires.
Carrie, still emotional about Barbie's demonstration of kindness, remembers the conversation.
“Barbie said she knew I worked very hard, that I come to work and do what I am supposed to. She said I was a very good person and that she wanted to help me. She helped me out a lot."
“I have a lot of respect for Barbie. She is a great woman," Carrie said. “She has a special place in my heart. She treats everybody the same. She's respectful. I consider Barbie as my friend. It doesn't matter who you are, where you come from or what job title you have, she treats you like you are a nurse practitioner, the same thing she is."
While Barbie's gift was life-changing for Carrie and her family, it is that last statement that is the real gift—the understanding and wisdom to, as the Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians, Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility consider one another as more important than yourselves.