I was in Carrollton, Georgia last week, a beautiful town about an hour west of Atlanta. I was speaking to the Tanner Health System about the cultural shift in health care delivery from an interventional model to one based on prevention and healing in community. This hospital is the only one in the Southeast to have received a grant funded by the Affordable Care Act to implement community health activities.

My day started with an early morning radio program, at lunch I addressed the hospital staff at lunch, and spoke to the community in the early evening. By the end of the day I was ready to indulge in a well-deserved reward. Eating has always comforted me, there’s not a carbohydrate or sugar that doesn’t call out to me.

The waitress, a lovely young woman with a great drawl, introduces herself as Debbie and takes my order. While waiting she serves me great crusty garlic bread accompanied by olive oil with fresh grated Romano cheese. I proceed to inhale it, and find myself wanting some more. I know I don’t really need it, but when Debbie returns I tell her I’d love some more bread adding defensively that I know it’s not good for me. She asks why, I tell her carbs go straight from my lips to my belly, and I can hardly fit into my pants.

I was expecting the typical response from any server, which would be to encourage the customer to splurge tonight, and looking for permission to do what I wanted to do without feeling guilty about my overindulgence. But Debbie says “ if you have a goal, go for it”, and then added that she sometimes struggled with weight and would have loved if a server had encouraged her to hang in when she was getting ready to splurge.

I didn’t get the extra bread, thanked her for being the first Public Health Waitress I’ve ever met. She helped me choose to become the principal agent in my own healing.

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