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Friday, January 17, 2014

Act of Kindness #12: A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down

Hesitantly, I walk up to the counter.  I have Ceci dangled on one of my hips; she struggles to pull off her hat and then a sock. On my right arm, a plastic CVS bag hangs, weighted down by a package of baby wipes and a Diet Mountain Dew.  In my right hand is a card; I tighten my hand around it, and it leaves a small indention.  My stomach is in knots.  My palms are sweaty, and as the pharmacist says, "I will be with you in a moment,"  I feel all the words I was going to say disappear from within my mouth.

Out of all of my Acts of Kindness, this is one I have eagerly anticipated and secretly dreaded.  It is one that I knew would be extremely rewarding but was also slightly out of my comfort zone. 

I had tried to do this act before.  Each time, my nerves would get the best of me.  I would pull up to the store and then drive away.  I would briskly walk in and make way towards the pharmacy counter, only to exit just as quickly as I had entered.  I had played the scenario of this act out over and over in my head, and as prepared as I felt, I still felt uneasy.

The prospect of talking to a stranger didn't intimidate me.  The idea of giving something to someone who was not asking for anything did not bother me.  What seemed to trouble me the most was that I did not have that much to give.

Easy listening music droned on in the background.  I could hear a second pharmacist on the phone discussing insurance.  Two people laughed as they discussed the content of a greeting card. A man reached around me for a pack of band aids, while a little boy ran up and down the vitamin aisle trying to evade his mother.

And then I noticed her; amid the chaos of every day life.  She sat almost motionless.  Her short brown hair was swept across her furrowed brow.  A look of impatience mixed with unhappiness had settled on her face.  One leg was crossed over the other, and she rested her chin in the palm of one of her hands.

I slowly walk over to her, uneasiness welling up inside of me. 

"Excuse me," I say, "are you waiting to pick up some medicine?"

It takes her a moment to look up at me, as if my words did not register at first. 

"I am," she responds, "but this has been taking forever.  It's going to take forever."  She motions to the pharmacist who has been on the insurance call.  The tone of her voice and the look in her eyes tell me that whatever is taking place with this phone call is not positive.

"I am going to be here awhile," she continues, and then she motions for me to go ahead of her. 

But I don't.  And instead of saying what I have practiced, new words that had once left me are now flooding out of my mouth.

"I would like for you to have this," I state, as I hand her the pharmacy card.  In an almost apologetic tone, I continue, "It only has ten dollars on it, but I thought that maybe you could use it to pay for the medicine you are picking up today.  I know it isn't much, but hopefully it will help."

She looks down at the card, as she takes it out of my hands.  Tears begin to well up in my eyes, partially because of my nerves and partially because I am proud of myself for actually following through with this act.  And then, she looks up at me, and I notice the tears in her eyes.

"Really?  This is for me?"  She questions.  I nod my head.  The look of unhappiness has left her face, and one of pleasant disbelief has taken its place, "but this is so nice of you...are you sure?" she asks.

I smile and nod my head again.

"Thank you.  Thank you, so much," she says with an even bigger grin on her face.

Her thanks are interrupted by the pharmacist who was on the phone.  "I talked to the insurance company again..."the pharmacist started.

I knew that this was my time to exit, so I turned and walked away, and as I did, I heard her say to the pharmacist, "That woman with the baby, she just gave me this.  Can you believe that?  She just gave this to me." 

I could hear the excitement in her trailed behind me and out of the store...followed me into my car...traveled with me all the way home...and continues to live on in my heart.

The experience  reminded me that my kind acts don't have to be grandiose in nature or financially significant.  Even the smallest amount of kindness can make all the difference.  Some days, all we need is a spoonful of sugar and a $10 CVS card.

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