Though Dr. Sarosh Ashraf Janjua expected a speeding ticket, she was gifted an act of kindness instead.
Health facilities across the United States are running out of important resources, particularly Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as N95 masks, gloves, and gowns. While healthcare workers have requested quick replenishment in supply, they are trying to make do with what they have. Some facilities have resorted to decontaminating and reusing their equipment. Others, like Dr. Sarosh Ashraf Janjua from Minnesota, have had to rely on the selfless acts of others. When she was caught speeding by a trooper on her way to the hospital, she expected to receive a speeding ticket. Instead, he handed her some of the N95 masks he had on hand, CNN reports.
Her experience went viral when she took to Facebook to post about it. "A Minnesota State trooper pulled me over on I-35 this past weekend for driving above the speed limit," she wrote. "When he saw my Massachusetts driver’s license, he asked me what I was doing all the way out in Minnesota, so I told him I travel here every month for my work as a locums cardiologist. He went back to his patrol car to look up my license, and when he returned, quite firmly told me it was very irresponsible of me to be speeding, especially since I would not only take up resources if I got into an accident, but would also not be in a position to help patients."
At that moment, though she felt "thoroughly chastised," she patiently waited for the trooper to write her a ticket. However, he decided to let her off with just a warning - and something even more surprising. Dr. Janjua explained, "As I sputtered to apologize and say thank you, he reached in to hand me what I assumed was my license back. It wasn’t until my hand had closed around what he was giving me that its unexpected bulkiness drew my eyes to it. Five N95 masks, from the supply the state had given him for his protection." The state trooper recognized the sacrifice she was making and wanted to make sure she was staying safe despite the severe shortages hospitals have been struggling with as of late.
"I burst into tears. And though it may just have been the cold wind, I think he teared up a little as well, before wishing me well and walking away," the doctor continued. "Like all healthcare workers and emergency responders around the world, I have felt afraid of not having adequate protective equipment, and in my darkest moments, have worried about what would happen if I fell sick far from home. This complete stranger, who owed me nothing and is more on the front lines than I am, shared his precious masks with me, without my even asking." That experience showed unsuspecting Dr. Janjua that there is still a lot of kindness left in the world. She affirmed, "The veil of civilization may be thin, but not all that lies behind it is savage. We are going to be okay."
The state trooper who helped her was Brian Schwartz from the Minnesota State Patrol. In response to her viral Facebook post, they too uploaded their own. They posted, "Thank you to Sarosh for her hard work and dedication. Troopers are working hard during the pandemic and are thinking about all the first responders who are caring for Minnesotans during this critical time." Dr. Janjua's story is a reminder that there is still strength in unity, even during a public health crisis. Though it may seem like everyone is only looking out for themselves, it is when we come together as a community that we become stronger. "I think we are all just hanging on to something that makes us feel safe," she said in an interview with CNN. "Somehow, for Americans, that something has become N95 masks and toilet paper. Trooper Schwartz's act of kindness became my something."