Discover more from Understandably by Bill Murphy Jr.
OK, sometimes Twitter isn't terrible. Also, 7 other things worth knowing today.
For U.S. readers, today is Election Day. Vote if you haven’t already!
(Also, here’s the story I try to remember to share on most election days, about how I had to go to court one time to get a ballot.)
Today’s newsletter includes a heartwarming story (at least I think so). But, it’s also designed to demonstrate that there’s a good side of Twitter, where you’ll find stories you’d never see if there weren’t a platform like it that lets people tell them and be discovered.
With that, meet Fabiola Plaza, a third-year medical student at Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell in New York.
Fabiola immigrated to the United States from Venezuela as a child with her parents and six siblings, grew up in South Florida, and came to New York City to attend Columbia University. She hopes to become a pediatric neurologist.
The rest of this (below) is an adaptation of a story she shared on Twitter, about how she realized that something that had bothered her and made her feel self-conscious as a child had now become a strength—especially something that an aspiring doctor could use to help people.
It’s short and simple, and I asked her if I could adapt and share it. Here’s what she had to say.
Soon you’ll be my doctor
I narrowly miss my subway train. A woman comes up to me and asks if I speak Spanish.
I reply, "Sí," and she asks me how to get to East Harlem. I tell her we will be transferring at the same stop, so she should just stick with me. We sit down and start talking.
She tells me that she's just moved to New York City from South America two months ago. She's living with a friend, and her friend usually goes with her on the subway, but today her friend is out of town.
She has three kids back home, and she moved here to get work to send money back. She's a nanny, taking care of someone else's kids—five children under 10 years old.
She says she gets paid very little, and that today is her first day off since she got here, as the family has gone on vacation.
She asks me about myself, and I tell her that I'm a medical student. I ask if she has considered where she will get medical care, and I tell her that I'm part of my school's free clinic, which offers care to the uninsured.
She looks at me.
Thank God she met me, she says.
She is undocumented, and she came to the U.S. with a 3-month supply of medicine that is essential to her health. She's been spacing them out to make them last.
But, she's already starting to feel her body change.
I realize she lives close to the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Waiting for the 6 train, I text the LMSA group chat of student leaders asking for the contact to Mt. Sinai's student-run free clinic.
Someone responds, and within minutes we were all on the phone together. We're able to set her up with a social worker and a potential appointment at the free clinic.
We exchange phone numbers, and the woman thanks me as I get off the train. This is now one less thing she has to worry about.
I'm late for my presentation because of all of this, but in the middle of it, I get this text:
It translates to: "“hi fabiola you are so beautiful and have a heart of gold, take care of yourself, may God protect you and soon you’ll be my doctor”
I wish I could go back in time and tell little Fabiola, the eight-year-old recent immigrant who was embarrassed by her accent and the fact she spoke Spanish, that her language abilities would allow her to interact with and treat people in the future.
This is what America is about: immigrants coming from all over to live a better life and find opportunity for not just themselves, but for future generations.
(After the tweet went viral—again, that’s part of why I’m sharing it, to shine a light on when stories like this do take off, and to wonder how many we’ll miss if Twitter devolves into something less—Fabiola shared this final tweet:
ok hi WOW—i am OVERWHELMED by the response. i tweeted this yesterday to my 40 followers, and now i have a *lot* of new twitter friends. hola a todos! 🥰
thank u sm for the love and support. i really didn't expect this story to resonate w so many, but i'm happy it did!
(Editor’s note: Here’s a link to lists of clinics that support people who do not have health insurance that Fabiola compiled afterward, both in NYC and elsewhere. You never know when you might meet someone who could benefit from them.)
7 other things worth knowing today
Airbnb's CEO took to ... well, to Twitter ... to announce some changes in response to customer complaints: an option to show prices with all fees included (but not taxes), and to discourage hosts from the sometimes extreme clean-up requirements that some of them have been requiring of guests. (Me, on Inc.com)
Tesla Inc. is set to erase all of its gains from the past 17 months as investors continue to sell off the stock in the wake of Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter Inc. Meanwhile, Musk tweeted some divisive and even crazy stuff that makes you wonder how serious he is about bringing advertisers back to the platform he paid $44 billion for. (Bloomberg, The Daily Beast, Times of Israel)
Compared to men, women are 17 percent more likely to die in a car crash and 73 percent more likely to sustain serious injuries in a front-end collision. Yet despite these discrepancies, car companies are only required to test vehicle safety using crash dummies modeled after the average man. Now, Swedish researchers have created a crash dummy that better represents the female body: 5-foot-3 and weighs about 137 pounds, and a orchestrated a bit more like a woman's body than a man's. (Smithsonian Magazine)
Blood grown in a laboratory has been transfused into humans for the first time in a landmark clinical trial that U.K. researchers say could significantly improve treatment for people with blood disorders and rare blood types. The aim is not to replace regular human blood donations, but ultimately to manufacture very rare blood types which are vital for people who depend on regular blood transfusions for conditions such as sickle cell anemia. (CNBC)
A record number of Americans are crossing the southern border—to live in Mexico, according to a new report. More than 8,000 US citizens were issued temporary resident visas to live in Mexico in the first nine months of the year, an 85% increase over the same period in 2019, Mexico’s Interior Ministry said. (NY Post)
A British couple laying a new kitchen floor dug up a trove of 264 rare gold coins that just sold at auction for $845,000. The highest-fetching coin, dating back to 1720, sold for £62,400 ($69,710). It was listed as the "Unbelievable Mint Error" gold coin because it was struck in the reign of King George I with no head but two tails. (Business Insider)
If bumblebees can play, does it mean they have feelings? This study suggests yes. If nothing else, the video attached here is pretty calming! (NPR)