I went to the pharmacy to use the ATM, after having routine bloodwork at the lab next door. The sign in the parking lot said the attendant only took cash and there was nowhere else to park in this area off busy Ventura Boulevard. The store reminded me of Patton’s, a local drugstore I’d loved mostly because it reminded me of the small independent drugstore we used to bike up to as kids: with the Grether’s pastilles, the Abdallah candies, the large selection of candy bars you never see anymore, the unique little gifts and trinkets and creams and potions. Patton’s and the old Snyder Drugs in Minnesota both reminded me of my grandmother and things I would have on my own dresser at home.
All of this next to the regular items that any pharmacy would have. The pharmacy staff were all ensconced behind the plexiglass covid shields that we now have.
They directed me to the ATM when I asked, and then I went to go find the Kleenex, box of Band-aids, and a few other items we could always use in the house. That’s when I heard him. He walked in barking more than asking, “Are you Josie? I’m looking for Josie.” And then he let out a stream of upset. She calmly told him there was no reason for him to be rude to her. He continued unchecked.
I could not hear all the details, but I heard enough to know that this man was unfazed about taking his anger out on this poor woman. He was on a kick to be upset about something and yet he needed something at the pharmacy. After he left with his prescription item in hand, I waited until another customer in the small store was waited on before I then made my way up to the counter.
Handing over my items and cash, my parking ticket in hand, I asked if I could get smaller bills, if they had change, for the $20.00 I’d withdrawn from the ATM. The woman named Josie, seeing my parking ticket said, “oh, they’ll have change for you. They just don’t take debit cards.”
Meeting her eyes, I said, “I’m sorry that man was rude to you. You didn’t deserve to be yelled at in public and at your workplace.” She looked at me and said “thank you for saying that” and something in her tone made me realize she really meant it.
I don’t know what possessed me to share it with her, but I opened my mouth and said, “I used to work in the public library and sometimes patrons would come in and just go off on staff for no apparent reason, and it doesn’t feel good and sometimes you can’t say anything because you’re working with the public and ‘customer service’ is very important, but you didn’t do anything to deserve being called out in such an unkind way. It doesn’t feel good and I’m sorry you had to go through that.”
Josie just looked at me and said, “sometimes I think it’s that I’m a woman and sometimes it’s just that people are looking to be upset, but thank you for saying that. That was really nice.”
I said “you’re welcome. You have a really nice store. There’s all sorts of neat things in here and it reminds me of a store I used to like by where I live and is no longer there.” She smiled.
Then she seemed to remember something. She had a twinkle in her eye, “Wait a minute,” she said, “you were asking about the parking lot. This is actually my pharmacy. I own this store and it’s not a chain. Give me your ticket. If I want to pay for your parking, I can!”
And with that, she took my ticket, stuck three parking validation stickers on it and told me to have a good day.
I just validated her because I know it feels crummy to have that happen to you. I wasn’t looking for parking validation, but being in the right place at the right time, I saw that often one good deed begets another. Thank you Josie. Thank you God for putting me in that place. Thank you for my years of having people say unkind things to me in a public-facing role that I couldn’t always avoid. And thank you that I was able to use that experience to validate someone else and make them feel heard and maybe feel a little better about the world and their day.
As the saying goes, one good deed begets another!
Connecting and acting with kindness and compassion towards others helps us feel good too. What was a seemingly serendipitous encounter at the drugstore, led me to being able to help someone feel better. If we’re open to these kinds of things, amazing connections can grow. What’s one of your recent stories of being in the right place at the right time, sometimes called divine providence? Or, share with us an experience of how you felt good making helping someone else feel validated? Share it with us at [email protected] or @joyfestivalindustries on social.