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 …