Seeing our loved ones suffer from afar is disheartening. All we want to do is go be with them and help, but even if we’re on our way, it still takes time to cross the miles: time filled with suffering that we could be easing if we were closer.
Lisa Nagengast had a brother in this sort of situation. He was a 48-year-old war veteran with multiple health issues.
Greg Holeman had congestive heart failure, but still needed spinal fusion surgery. Nagengast flew to Omaha to be with him while he had surgery, then helped him get set up at home.
Fortunately there were homecare workers to help set things up as well, but on Saturday afternoon, Nagengast had to catch a flight back home. When she landed, she found out her brother had been trying to contact her.
“Yeah, so….I landed in Tampa at 7:20 pm this evening and had a voice mail from my brother,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “He was in pain, there was a lot of blood and puss type fluid oozing from his incision.”
“He said it was really bad and his left leg had gone numb. He was understandably upset and could not drive and was having issues getting a ride to the hospital.”
To make matters worse, a cab would be too expensive for someone living on disability, and Uber doesn’t exist in his neck of the woods. He couldn’t even call an ambulance “because there was no VA authorization,” according to Nagengast.
“So I asked him to give me the phone number for the social worker so I could call and see if we could figure something out.” Like any good friend and sister would, she did as much as she could from afar, and dialed the number.
The woman at the other end of the line was likely not prepared for her request, because… well, because she was an employee at Jimmy John’s. After getting the gist of the message, she handed the phone off to the manager, Jason Voss. He might not have been expecting the order Nagengast placed, but he was certain they would deliver.
“The whole time I pretty much knew that she didn’t know she was talking to someone from Jimmy John’s,” Voss told CNN. “It didn’t seem important to really bring it up, but I just wanted to make sure that she knew I was going to help her.”
Nagengast remembers Voss’ quick, polite answer: “‘We have drivers, let me see what I can do. I will call you back in 15 minutes.'”
When the driver, Zach Hillmer, called her back to clarify some details about the pickup, it became clear that Nagengast had called a restaurant, not the social service she was trying to get a hold of.
She tried to take back her request, but they insisted they would help. And they did. They picked up Holeman and took him to the ER.
“I’m famous for calling a wrong number,” Nagengast admitted to CNN, “but Zach and Jason need to be famous because they did an amazing act of kindness.”
Thankfully, Holeman ended up being all right and is now back at home — and he and his sister now have a new favorite sandwich shop.
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