Kindness matters. In a pinch and every day.

Kindness matters

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

She’s behind the counter just about every time I pick up a script at CVS. Engrossed in the computer, on the phone, in and out among the shelves, she’s so focused, she rarely looks up. We had probably never spoken before.

That day, a beautiful turquoise necklace graced her neck. It was a piece you might buy on a Caribbean cruise and wear with a sarong on a sunset beach. I wanted the necklace, the cruise, the rest of the fantasy. I was so close to complimenting her on her taste in jewelry, but I stopped myself.

I usually don’t hesitate to share a kind word, and I don’t know why that day I didn’t. Maybe I just didn’t feel like being nice.

Sometimes kindness feels like a solo mission in the world. My husband Michael will tease me good-naturedly and roll his eyes just a bit when I go out of my way to compliment the performance of the restaurant server, to make eye contact with the grocery store bagger before thanking him, to tell the mail deliverer she’s doing a good job. I wonder if I’m the only person who makes the effort.

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

On those days when the world seems harsh, I wonder if kindness even matters. At that moment of connection, I’m sure people appreciate a kind word, but does it last? Does it make a difference?

For whatever reason, that day at the pharmacy, I didn’t have it in me to pay a simple compliment.

When the pharmacist came from behind the counter with her supplies, she plopped down in the chair next to me. I’m not bothered by shots very much, but maybe I looked nervous and I guess I was holding my arm too stiffly. She told me to relax my arm as she gave it a gentle wiggle.

“It will hurt less if you relaxed,” she explained. “I would hate to hurt you because you’re so nice. You’re always so pleasant when you come in, and I just don’t want to hurt you.”

I was stunned. She noticed?

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 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 the 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 …

No Comments

  1. on December 4, 2016 at 1:30 PM

    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. on December 5, 2016 at 1:02 PM

    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. on December 5, 2016 at 1:08 PM

    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 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. on December 5, 2016 at 1:10 PM

    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.

  5. on December 5, 2016 at 1:13 PM

    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. on January 29, 2018 at 11:20 PM

    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. on January 30, 2018 at 1:33 AM

    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!

  8. Our Wake of Kindness - Karen DeBonis on October 13, 2020 at 5:00 PM

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