Some of you may know I work in a local pharmacy two days a week. The work is a challenge for me and that’s exactly what I like about it. It gets me out of my comfort zone both mentally and physically, and provides me the opportunity to be fully present with other people in a very busy and fast-paced environment. Many times I find inspiration for my writing during my time at work.
I am an introvert by nature. Most writers are. Over the years, I’ve learned to extend myself and I’m pretty good at the art of small talk. But it takes a toll. Someone once explained it to me this way…introverts are drained by their interactions with others while extroverts are energized by them.
I don’t know if this is true but I’m normally very drained by the time I get home after a day at the pharmacy. Yesterday was different. Something happened that touched all of us who were there. I just have to share this story because I’m still thinking about it today:
It was a very busy day at the pharmacy. The phones were ringing constantly. They rang so much, that even the pharmacists were answering them. The drive through window was dinging steadily. There was a continual stream of people coming into the store to shop in the gift shop and to pick up prescriptions. Folks were coming in for flu shots because it’s October, the official beginning of flu season.
At one point in the afternoon, a mother with three small children came in to get flu shots. She had two little boys and a daughter in a stroller who couldn’t have been more than one-year-old. As she filled out the paperwork for all of their shots, I enjoyed watching her children and thought back to the days when I was a young mother with two little boys and a daughter in a stroller.
The mother patiently shopped in the gift shop while all of their flu shots were being prepared. The little boys were extremely cute and well behaved. The baby daughter was smiling and waving at me from her stroller. I know children aren’t that happy and well behaved by accident. I was impressed.
Shortly after that, another young woman came in to get a flu shot. As I gave her the paperwork to fill out, she said she had a health condition that made it important for her to have a flu shot every year. After I collected her paperwork and insurance information, she sat in one of our chairs to wait her turn.
A few minutes later, one of our technicians went out to tell the young woman that her insurance wouldn’t cover her flu shot and it would be $40. When she heard this news, she said she didn’t have any money and put her head in her hands and began to cry. The technician told her she would try and call the insurance company to see if there was anything they would do.
The mother with the three children had overheard the conversation with the young woman. She walked up to one of the cash registers and very quietly told one of my co-workers that she would like to pay for the young woman’s flu shot.
And she did. Just like that.
About the same time, the pharmacist called the mother and her children into the room to get their shots. My co-worker told the young woman that another customer had paid for her flu shot. She began to cry again.
There was no direct interaction between the two women. Their lives intersected for a brief time and one person’s small act of kindness had a huge impact on another.
Just like that. No fanfare, no accolades, just compassion followed by an act of kindness.
This is not the first time I’ve seen acts of kindness like this at the pharmacy. Another day not long ago, one of our pharmacists paid for a needed drug that a customer couldn’t afford. She walked up with her credit card and asked us to put it on her card and let the customer know it was all paid when she came in.
I see these little things that people do for others because they want to help, and it reinforces my belief in the goodness and pure decency of people.
And yesterday, after the two women left, I wrote a thank you note to the mother with signatures from everyone who was working. I told her how her act of kindness had inspired us all.
As another one of my co-workers said yesterday when he heard the story, “Wow, just wow.”