The power of a smile and kind words
I recently shared with my wife, Jill, a saying I read in a store: “A smile and a few kind words can really change someone’s day.” Jill smiled and said she knew the power of that saying because she had witnessed it years ago.
The story she told me happened on a trip to the grocery store nearly 20 years ago, before I met her.
Jill walked into the store with her father, Ken, and daughter, Alexus, who was 7 at the time. At one point, Alexus and his grandfather, who had been diagnosed with Huntington’s disease three years before Alexus was born, parted ways with Jill to pick up his prescriptions from the drug store while Jill shopped.
(No one in Jill’s family knew at the time that Jill and Alexus would one day be diagnosed with Huntington’s disease.)
At the pharmacy, the clerk informed Ken that one of his prescriptions was not covered by insurance and would cost $400. His mental state had been declining for years, so when presented with the option of buying the drug, he did.
Some people with Huntington’s disease may act impulsively, such as spending money recklessly. Their decision-making abilities will often decline as the disease progresses.
Alexus was old enough to realize that $400 was a lot of money. She didn’t say anything when he paid the bill, but she told her mother when they met in the store.
Jill panicked. It was not an amount she, as a single mother, or her parents could afford. She also knew from being a pharmacy technician that once the pills left the pharmacy, they could not be returned.
Once Jill calmed down, she realized they just had to accept that they were now $400 poorer. Alexus saw his mother’s face and knew what had happened was not good, and she began to feel guilty for not stopping her grandfather. Jill told her that everything would be fine and it wasn’t her fault. They resumed their purchases.
Jill didn’t realize it, but Alexus was looking for a solution.
As soon as they were in an alley near the pharmacy, Alexus grabbed the bag of prescriptions, walked over to the counter, and asked if she could speak to the pharmacist.
Jill saw them talking but didn’t know what it was until the pharmacist waved at her. As Jill approached the counter, she noticed that there was a receipt on it. The pharmacist told her that she had to sign the receipt, which was for reimbursement.
Jill was amazed. She asked the pharmacist why she was doing this. The woman replied, “Your daughter asked me.” Jill couldn’t believe what she had just heard.
The pharmacist told her that whenever Alexus was in the pharmacy, standing next to her grandfather, she smiled and complimented everyone who worked there. The pharmacist said Alexus’ kind comments and innocent smile were the highlight of the week for the staff.
Jill knew how wonderful her daughter was, but hearing that made her cry. She told me she remembered how stressful it was to work in a pharmacy and how meaningful it was when people were nice, which unfortunately wasn’t often.
Since that day, Jill has always been quick to compliment people because sometimes a smile and a few kind words can change someone’s day.
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