The Kindness of Strangers

Boston Strong
I didn’t have an image to illustrate this post. This one feels appropriate.

Sometimes, when you’re in the thick of it, the smallest gestures mean the most.

We got Ryan in to see the psychiatrist Friday, to discuss his recent extreme anxiety over hockey stats. Because it was an emergency appointment, we went to a different office 45 minutes away. We were thrilled to get in to see him, even though things got a bit better each day last week, but it made for a hectic Friday. Both Veronica and I had to leave work early to get Ryan to the appointment on time.

Just as importantly, Riley had a Dads and Daughters dance Friday evening that she was very excited about. Both of us attending Ryan’s appointment meant that she almost certainly would be late to the dance.

We are very conscious of the imbalance of parental attention that having a child with special needs sometimes creates. We talk to Riley about it openly. This was one of those times, we explained, where her brother’s needs had to come first. Riley showed her true colors. Having witnessed Ryan in the midst of his worst meltdowns during the week, she did not protest. It was upsetting to her, not because it interfered with her plans, but because she hated to see her brother struggling. I promised to get her to the dance just as soon as possible.

The psychiatrist spent quite a bit of time with Ryan, and with us, both separately and together. He told us this was OCD and discussed treatment options. He gave Ryan some coping mechanisms and made sure he had them memorized before we left. He gave us a prescription for an anti-anxiety med and advised that we fill it that night and begin giving it to Ryan immediately.

As we raced back towards home, I did some mental math. We weren’t running too late, but the need to got to the pharmacy — and wait for a prescription to be filled — was a wrinkle we did not account for. I went straight home and got changed for the dance while Veronica headed to the nearby CVS.

Just about the time I was ready to go with Riley, Veronica called to say it would be 15 minutes until the scrip was ready. I looked at Riley, who was anxious to get to the dance. I looked at Ryan, who was listening in on my conversation with Veronica. We were less than an hour until the first puck drop and he showed all the signs of the anxiety that plagued him all week. When he heard about a 15-minute wait, he just about lost it.

I couldn’t leave him alone or send him to the neighbor’s in this state. Veronica and I debated what to do. I hated to put Riley second once again. This was supposed to be her night. We debated some more, killing a few more minutes of the wait. Ryan agreed he would be OK for 10 minutes — but no longer. Veronica decided to wait a few minutes before bailing out for home if the scrip wasn’t ready. I told Ryan to text me if there was any problem. I took a deep breath and got in the car with Riley to head to the dance, feeling nervous about the situation. Under normal circumstances, Ryan is fine to wait by himself for a few minutes. He knows what to do should any need arise, and either Veronica or I could be back home in a couple of minutes.

Veronica soon texted to say she was back home with the prescription and all was fine. Riley and I went and had a great time at the dance (in other words, she ignored me as much as possible, and ran and hid when the Michael Jackson songs came on lest she have to endure the embarrassment of my “dancing”).

It wasn’t until we got home that Veronica gave me the full story.

As soon as she got off the phone with me from CVS, the pharmacist, having overheard the conversation, called her over. She asked Veronica the name on the scrip and said she would fill it immediately. Veronica thanked her profusely and mentioned the nature of the drug — an anti-anxiety med. The pharmacist said she had noticed.

And just like that, the offered kindness of a stranger helped to avert a disaster. It was anything but a small gesture for Veronica in that moment. In some ways, it marked the turning point of this entire episode. It isn’t fully behind us, but Ryan has resumed watching some hockey and playing with his Hockey Guys. We are going to a Devils game this weekend. Thank you, CVS pharmacist, for seeing a person that needed an assist and reacting with kindness. You can’t know how much that gesture meant to us.

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9 thoughts on “The Kindness of Strangers

  1. We had a post office worker go above and beyond for us a few years ago and it meant everything at the time – I don’t think she has any idea how much.
    I’m glad you were able to give both kids what they needed that night.

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    1. I suspect that the kind of people who offer random acts of kindness get the impact it has … precisely because they’re the kind of people that offer random acts of kindness.

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