In a pinch, skip the naughty. Be nice.

The blond pharmacist checked on my insurance and said sure, she could give me a flu shot.

I see her behind the counter just about every time I pick up a script.  Always engrossed in the computer, on the phone, in and out among the shelves.  So focused, she rarely looks up and we probably have never spoken before.

She wore a beautiful turquoise necklace with large stones, the kind you might buy on a Caribbean cruise and wear with a sarong on a sunset beach.  I wanted the necklace, the cruise, and the rest of the fantasy.  I was so close to complimenting her on it, but I stopped myself.  I don’t know why.  Maybe that day I just didn’t feel like being nice.

Sometimes I get tired of being nice.  Sometimes it feels like a solo mission in the world.   Michael will tease me good-naturedly and roll his eyes just a bit when I go out of my way to compliment the job of the grocery store bagger or the CVS clerk.  I wonder if I’m the only one who does this stuff.

Sometimes being nice seems like a facade, when inside I feel all prickly.  My family may still love me when I get testy, but strangers don’t have that obligation.  If I’m prickly to the Home Depot guy, all he knows is that I am yet another difficult customer.  Is that really what I want to show to the world?

Sometimes I wonder if being nice even matters.  At that moment of connection, I’m sure people appreciate a kind word, but does it last?  Does it make a difference?

So I guess that day at the pharmacy, I just didn’t have it in me to pay a simple compliment.

When she came from behind the counter with her supplies, the pharmacist plopped down in the chair next to me.

I’m not bothered by flu shots or any shots too much, but maybe I looked nervous and I guess I was holding my arm too stiffly.  She told me to relax my arm, gave it a gentle wiggle.   It would hurt less if I relaxed, she explained.  “I would hate to hurt you because you’re so nice,” she said.  “You’re always so pleasant when you come in, and I just don’t want to hurt you.”  Then she warned me, “It’ll be just a little pinch, now.”

I felt the pinch, but she didn’t hurt me.  Quite the opposite.  In fact, I felt kind of … nice.

In this season of giving, during this time of upheaval and vitriol in our country, maybe a little extra kindness is what we all need to temper the pinches of life.   Maybe when we feel our most prickly is when we need to try to be most kind.  Maybe it really does come full circle.  And who knows the impact?  On us and on the world?

I’m going to look for the blond pharmacist the next time I’m in.  And if she’s wearing that necklace, you know what I’m going to do …

7 thoughts on “In a pinch, skip the naughty. Be nice.”

  1. Does it matter? Does it make a difference? I like to think so. We never really know how what we say can affect another and the ripple affect of that. Changing the world is an overwhelming thought but positively affecting the people we come in contact everyday within each of our small circles is possible. Thanks for the nice story Karen!

  2. Thanks for your comment, Paula! Yes, I think we need to remember the ripple effect – we may never see how far the ripple goes, but it should not stop us from plunking that first pebble into the water.

  3. Hey flock – Some followers have told me that they were unable to post a comment here. If you are one of them, please let me know by emailing me at karen@thewellnestedlife.com. I’ll convene with the cybergods and see what the problem is. In the meantime, I’ll be posting comments for anyone who requests it.

  4. Posted on behalf of my Dad:
    Tzadikim Nistarim
    According to a Jewish mystical tradition there are 36 holy people in the world at any given time for whose sake God keeps the world going round. These people don’t even know they are the holy ones, and of course they don’t know each other.
    I have my own take on this. At any one moment there are 36 people in the world who are committing to undertake some good deed. At the next moment there are a different 36. Any one person is a member of this group for only an instant of time – the time it takes to make the decision to do the good. Over a lifetime a person may be a member of this group many times. Is the decision to be nice important? In my scheme of things it is crucial – if I don’t decide to do the good perhaps for an instant the group will be one short of 36 and disaster will ensue.
    Many years ago, before hearing about the Tzadikim Nistarim, I had a similar insight about a small group of people I called Dawnkeepers. They are the ones whose works of love assure that there will be a new dawn each day – the world is not plunged into a sunless darkness.
    And so dear Karen, and readers, I plead – do decide to do the good, and give us all the benefit of one more moment of the shining sun.
    I love you all.
    Dad

  5. Dad – I had not heard of this tradition, and I love your own take on it. It’s a reminder that we can never underestimate our power to good in the world at any and every moment.
    I love you too 🙂

  6. Somedays, it does feel like a solo mission, doesn’t it? I resonated with your story. I too, frequently go out of my way to do or say something nice–especially if someone looks stressed or down. I have found by doing so, it tends to lift me up a little too. I’ve also found (as you did), yes, people remember and appreciate it. On a few occasions, someone has told me I just made their day–and that feels so fan-tab-ulous!

  7. Thank you again, Paula, for your comment and kind words. It IS a wonderful feeing to make someone’s day, especially when it’s as easy as saying something nice. We should all do it more often!

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