Thoughts on Kindness

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Some of my favorite YouTube videos to watch are reaction videos. Specifically, learning about what people think about Americans when they visit the United States for the first time. Overwhelming kindness is what many people experience.

As much as we complain about our country being divided and sometimes feeling that everything is awful, especially after watching the news, there is a lot of good. Video after video after video, I have seen that same reaction. How when people arrive here, Americans are smiling, chatting them up, giving compliments and actually kind of freaking people out. They usually think it’s fake at first, but then after awhile, they realize that it’s just part of American culture. And they like it.

Obviously, Americans aren’t always kind. And some people are so used to being treated badly, they cannot even fathom it. A recent Boston Globe Opinion piece called “The pharmacist and the amaryllis” shook me to the core.

A pharmacist had done a great job helping the writer cut through some red tape and got her insurance company to cover the needed medication. As a thank you, she bought an amaryllis plant to give the pharmacist. But the gift and thank you weren’t received as hoped. The pharmacist couldn’t comprehend the kindness and thought she was in trouble. Below is a portion from the piece.

“Though I was not there, I was the medication recipient and the patient in question. A few weeks later, recovered, I bought an amaryllis plant and brought it to the pharmacy drop-off window. When I asked for the pharmacist by name, the tech looked a little worried. The woman who emerged from the back looked even more worried.

I explained that she had helped to resolve a medical mess a month earlier, that it had required enormous effort, and that I wanted to give her the plant in appreciation. Immediately, her eyes grew a little glazed and fearful.

“I took care of that,” she said quickly. “It won’t happen again.”

“No,” I said, “I’m here to thank you.”

But she couldn’t absorb the thanks. As the public face of insurance noncoverage, delays for prescriptions that were never called in, long waiting lines, unreasonable copayments, and medication side effects that no one explains, she had been trained into a different expectation. It was clear that she was waiting for someone to yell at her.”

After reading this, I thought about the pharmacist. What her days must be like with such constant fear. I hope she can experience a steady stream of kindness. So she can recognize it, when she sees it.

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