Batman in the Bathroom

Last Friday, I go to visit Kelly at her work, DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids. Our eleven-year old daughter isn’t feeling well and is home from school, so she comes with me to meet Kelly for lunch.  We plan for 1pm, but because Kelly is on the ICU floor and the pace is intense, we try to be flexible. I settle down in the pristine and brightly colored lobby with a book and my laptop. Naomi wanders in and out of the gift shop, surveying all the new types of clay and slime.


It’s 1:35p now and we’re people watching. New patients and families are checking in at registration. A smiling mom with a baby in a carrier is finally going home; they’re waiting for dad to pull the car up to the loop at the main entrance. A batch of nursing students in matching navy scrubs chat on couches, backpacks scattered at their feet. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just another day at the hospital.


Now a young nurse emerges from the elevator pulling a girl in a wagon. The girl is wearing her hospital gown and a wrap on her head. My guess is she’s from the oncology floor. The nurse pulls the wagon through the lobby, then out the main doors to the drive-up loop. Then another nurse arrives, this time with a patient in a wheelchair. There’s a small, but steady trickle of nurses and patients and family members making their way to the front door. Clearly, they know something we don’t.


It’s 1:53 now and it’s happening. A jet-black Polaris Slingshot (think exotic motorcycle/ sports car hybrid) rolls up and Batman gets out of the front seat. And no, this is not a 17-year-old in a cheap rented costume. This is the Dark Knight himself, all 6’4’’ and 230 Kevlar-clad lbs. of him.

And people- patients, nurses, family members, hospital staff, passersby and random lobby occupants (like us) are losing their minds. This, of course, is perfectly acceptable and expected, because it is, in fact, Batman. Shy kids break into smiles, hospital staff ask for selfies, patient moms get verklempt. Waves of awe, wonder, surprise and joy are breaking over the hospital entrance and creeping into the lobby. Corners of the most serious mouths on the premises are turning upward, because, well… it’s Batman.


A family with two young children enters the lobby from another entrance. They are scanning the lobby with their backs to the mini-Comic Con event unfolding just yards away. I don’t typically approach children I don’t know, so I keep a safe distance when asking the father and three-year-old son, “Did you see Batman?” Eyes widen, jaws drop and off they go to their photo op.


2:30p comes and Kelly’s ready to eat. When I finish my Smashburger and Kelly completes her Qdoba in the hospital food court, we head back to the main elevators. Kelly goes back to work and Naomi and I hit our respective restrooms before the trek back to the Holland area. I wash my hands, then dry them and, as I open the door to exit, Batman walks in. And in his textbook raspy baritone, says “Thank you.” It’s not every day you get to hold the restroom door for Batman and I won’t soon forget it.


Looking back, I realize it’s not just a feel-good moment for kids and families in need, though it is. I’m not merely thankful for Batman and the visits he makes to people like these, though I am. The lesson I’m walking away with is this: wonder lurks in ordinary, everyday places. Magic lies beneath the veil of the mundane. You don’t always see it and certainly don’t always expect it. But should you find it, this wonder, make sure you share it. Because the only thing more fun than stumbling across Batman, is making sure someone else does too.



To learn more about The Dark Knight of MI:


Craig Custance