December 2, 2010

Kleenex for a Stranger

There aren't a lot of things that will make me cry in public. Generally, I like to keep dramatic displays of emotion under wraps, preferably at home in the bathroom where no one can see the makeup sliding off my face in chunks. That rule, however, went right out the window yesterday thanks to my magical credit card and a handful of Kleenex.

Those of you who follow me on Twitter have probably heard me talking about how the kiddo has a pretty awful cough. I think my personal favorite tweet about that was the cough/lunch/vomit one. For the sake of the squeamish or those with a greater sense of propriety than my own (ahem, Dad), I won't elaborate here.

After the better part of a week spent listening to Nathaniel's hacking cough, I decided it was time for the little man to get checked out so off to the pediatrician's office we went! It started out as a normal visit. We paid our co-pay, had the kiddo's weight taken by the nurse, and we were seen by a doctor who played with Nathaniel before breaking out the stethescope. That, unfortunately, was the turning point of my afternoon.

A quick listen to the baby's back revealed a crackling noise, something that most parents know isn't a good sign. The diagnosis was bronchitis. Sad, but manageable.

Feeling thoroughly awful for my child, we set out to the pharmacy to get his prescription filled. While waiting for the prescription, I suddenly realized something terrible. Something awful. Something that would make it impossible to buy medication for my child.

I never got my credit card back from the clinic.

A cold feeling of dread settled into the pit of my stomach as I began the long, traffic-filled drive back to the office. Having eviscerated my diaper bag and the pockets of my jacket, I was certain that I never received my card back from the nice gentleman at the front desk. So I did the only rational thing that came to mind, I called the clinic. After explaining my plight, I was put on hold while the staff searched for my card and I aged roughly five years waiting for someone to come back on the line.

When the phone was again answered, I was informed that the gentleman thought he had given me the card. And they couldn't find it anywhere. They said they would keep looking, but it was probably gone.

This is the part of the story where I pulled off the road and had a good cry in the safety and privacy of my car, thinking that I had no way to buy the medicine my child needed, what was I supposed to do, and why on earth did God see fit to give women such terrible hormones to kick in at moments such as this.

Then, through the tears, a stroke of brilliance.

Rifling through my diaper bag earlier had been just the ticket; I remembered seeing my old checkbook lying at the bottom of the bag. So I turned my car around again, stomped on the accelerator to avoid the traffic, and drove back to the pharmacy.

Still extremely upset about my sick child and the magical disappearing credit card, I was sniffling a bit as I pulled into the parking lot of our local pharmacy. I drove up to the window where the nice lady handed me the prescription... and a handful of tissues.

There are moments, my friends, where the small kindness of a stranger can mean the world to a person. After a frustrating situation wherein I felt completely helpless, that little gesture made me feel that all was not lost.

It also made me cry even harder.

That poor woman; she thought it was her fault. So in and amongst my runny nose and my makeup making a break for the south pole, I stumbled over myself to explain that she wasn't the cause of my breakdown. And after I managed to get out part of what had happened, I think she finally understood.

As I drove away from the pharmacy, prescription in hand, my perspective slowly shifted. I realized that the situation wasn't as bleak as it seemed. Our credit card would be cancelled and life would go on, albeit with a little less makeup and a few wads of dirty Kleenex.

So we will chalk this one up to a lesson learned: always carry tissues in your diaper bag.


  1. Honestly, I would have done the same thing. But how nice that she gave you the kleenex without any questions. :)

  2. Awww, I would have cried too! I'm tearing up just reading your post, crazy horomones! :-)

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