The Older Black Man At The Nix Hospital

Gerald Washington
3 min readMay 21, 2022
Photo by Obi - @pixel6propix on Unsplash

It was another typical day at the Nix Health hospital in, where I worked as a housekeeper from 2014 to 2016 in San Antonio, Texas. I was ready to be off, after the excitement of cleaning what felt like a million patient rooms on floors 18 to the 24th. The chats with nurses I got along with and my co-worker Melanie helped make the day go by, but, now I was ready to unwind for the last hour — before I left the old tall building in downtown San Antonio.

I had one more patient room to check on before I could coast — until it was time to leave the Nix for tonight. I was on the 19th floor bracing myself before I knocked on the door. I knocked and say ‘’Housekeeping!’’. Someone in the room says ‘’come in’’. I go into the room and see a middle-aged white woman in the bed with a smile on her face. Right across from her, was a middle-aged black man sitting inside his chair with a stern smile.

She had said something to him, that made me guess, that they were a married couple.

I give a professional smile to both of them — before I went to their restroom to clean it. After a couple of minutes of cleaning, I go back into the main area of their room. Before I proceed to clean, the older man starts to talk to me. He began to talk to me about black American history and ask me questions.

I was taken aback because history always gets me excited to hear about it! It was rare for me to find someone who had a strong enthusiasm about history, let alone black history.

He had asked me if I knew a few figures. I had answered with glee most of his questions. I remember after I got one answer right, he responded with ‘’Yeeaah’’. His yeah had so much weight in it. It was incredible.

Then he mentions a man named Paul Robeson (1898–1976). The way he spoke about Mr. Robeson was just incredible to me. Paul Robeson was a man who spoke a million languages. He was also an actor, an athlete,a great singer, had a great education, and was a civil rights advocate. In my head, I was thinking ‘’Wow, he did all that?’’

Photo by Nachristos on Unsplash

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Gerald Washington

Just a curious writer trying to navigate a complex world. Sharing my words helps a lot with that.