It’s a chore just getting the mail out of the box, every day. It’s an armload and, if I ever make the mistake of laying it on the kitchen table and walking away from it, that’s it. I’m behind for the rest of the week.
As I juggle the mail out of the box, I take a cursory glance to see the bills, newspapers, magazines, junk mail, and correspondence. For some reason, there has been a rush of bridal showers and wedding invitations lately. Maybe it has to do with quarantining.
Today, a brightly-colored green envelope caught my eye to the degree that I opened it immediately. It made my day. I’m still smiling. Tink and I believe solidly in doing business with family-owned stores and independent businesses. They need us and, whether we realize it or not, we need them. Not just for the products they provide but because they see us as people, not a nameless face.
Our health insurance thinks it’s prudent to use a big chain store but, whenever possible, we skirt the rules or pay cash for the prescription at a local independent. This goes against my usual frugal ways but let me tell you what they give me that money can’t buy: they know me as their neighbor. At the drive-through, Mari or Meredith will swing open the window, grin happily and say, “We’ve got a prescription for you. Just a second.”
They don’t ask my name or how to spell it or ask for my identification. Instead, they ask if Tink is away shooting a series or mention what they’ve read of mine lately. Sometimes, Joy, one of the pharmacists, and I will talk about how their preacher search is going and how important it is to find the right one.
One of the other pharmacists, Jennifer, said, “Do you know that we got a nice donation to the church from one of your readers? He said he read about us in your column and wanted to help.”
A lovely young woman recently purchased the pharmacy from the founder who decided to retire. There, for a while, I was afraid that things might change. Four or five times in a row, I went by and new faces popped in the window of the drive-through and I had to tell them my name.
One day, I came home and said fretfully to Tink, “I’m worried about our drugstore. It’s starting to look like Laugh-In over there?”
Tink did a double-take. “Laugh-In? What are you talking about?”
When I was a little girl, there was a popular comedy show called Laugh-In and one of the gags included several windows where someone different popped out with a joke. It was no laughing matter to me, though. I was troubled.
The next day, I called the pharmacy and asked to speak to either Mari or Meredith. I was putting my investigative skills to work. To my great relief, the clerk said, “They’re both here. Does it matter which one?”
“No!” I exclaimed. “Either one.”
Mari answered and I sighed deeply. “Oh, I’m so glad you’re there. I was starting to worry that all my friends were gone. I never see you at the window anymore.”
“Oh, yes, we’re still here. I guess we’ve just been busy when you came through.”
I went on to tell her how much I appreciate them and how comforting it is to know that they’ll take care of a problem before I even know there’s a problem.
That’s how I came to receive a cheerful, green envelope in the mail a couple of days later. It was from Mari who said that my phone call made her realize how she needed to say “Thank you” to others more often. It made her feel good.
Then she blessed me in return by making me feel good.
Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of What Southern Women Know About Faith. Visit www.rondarich.com to sign up for her free weekly newsletter.