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 …