Kindness from Strangers: What I Learned at the Dentist

Ouch. I really hate when I screw up. I missed Sunday and Monday to post on my blog – I got busy living in reality. Add that to the list of my personal imperfections.

Today’s prompt from BlogHer’s NaBloPoMo asks us to reflect on a time we benefited from the kindness of strangers. My first thought was to write about losing $40 in a mall in Washington D.C. when I was 10. My mom was our scout leader for 10 years, and when we – being the girls – were in 5th grade, we took a train from Florence, SC to Washington D.C. Not just the scouts and a couple of chaperones, but all of the scouts and all of the moms. I believe it was about 32-35 ladies and young ladies.

18_Nov14_GirlScoutsNationalMonument

{Troop 151 in front of the National Cathedral. I’m sporting a fantastic blue and pink fanny pack.}

We visited several of the Smithsonian museums, walked the mall, ate lunch at the Old Post Office, took a night tour of the monuments (FABULOUS), ate at Hard Rock Café (before there was one in Myrtle Beach), met Strom Thurmond and toured the capital building (meeting Strom Thurmond deserves its very own blog post, LAWSY)…I mean we did it all…including walking all over chanting this cadence count that one of the girls had learned at camp:

Left, left, Left, Right, Left

Left, Left, Left my wife and 48 kids

An old gray bear and a peanut stand

Did I do right? Right, right, left

SHIFT-a-jingle

Left, Left….

I don’t think we had a clue what we were saying, but I still sing that little cadence count walking around amusement parks or cities from time to time.

Well, as you can probably imagine, 30+ girls and women in a city…what was one thing we were BOUND to do? SHOP!!  I had saved for a long time to have my very own spending money for this trip, and I was being stingy with it. I had just started collecting perfume bottles after my Aunt Bonny had given me one as a gift, and I’d found one in the mall that I wanted to buy. I pulled out my little envelope of cash that I’d so painstakingly saved doing extra chores, and I bought that shiny new perfume bottle to add to my collection. A couple of hours later, I realized that my envelope was missing, which held my last $40 of spending money for the trip…that was a lot of money to me, hard earned money at that! After multiple phone calls an tears and prayers later, we got a call. Someone had found my envelope and turned it in. Forty dollars in cash. In a mall. In Washington DC. A stranger. There is still kindness in the world.

That little anecdote from my childhood was my first thought when I was pondering the kindness of strangers. And then I went to the dentist this morning.

I visited a new dentist for the first time today, an overdue task which I was excited to finally have checked off the list. And after having completed the task, I plan to visit the same dentist twice a year for the duration of my life or time that I live in Anderson – whichever one changes first. THEY WERE GREAT. Excellent service, made me comfortable, thorough, polite…everything you want in a dentist…if you need a dentist in Anderson, SC, I highly recommend Waters Family Dentistry. As I lay in the chair this morning, Debbie the hygienist and I chatted in between the steps of my cleaning and x-rays, and I mentioned that I’m pretty meticulous about my dental care after having a lot of orthodontic work done in my younger years. I explained to her that the orthodontist didn’t give me a retainer and my midline was off and it bugged me…”but I guess other people don’t notice that kind of stuff”, I said. Debbie responded, “You know, aren’t we good at that as women? We get up in the mirror and just hunt out all of our own imperfections even though people don’t really look at us that way.”

We hunt out all of our own imperfections even though people don’t really look at us that way. It reverberated in my brain.

I’m not sure, based on the depth of conversation I had with Debbie this morning (and the fact that she was poking around my mouth with sharp metal tools and that suction thing), that she is still considered a stranger, but she sure started the day as one. I would say that her statement, whether she meant it as kindness or not, is one of the kindest things anyone has ever said to me. I pondered what she’d said as I lay in the dentist chair this morning after Debbie finished my cleaning and as I was waiting for Dr. Waters to review my X-rays and do a final check. I forgave myself for my imperfections – both physical and otherwise. And I thanked myself for having them because it makes not necessarily a normal human being, but a unique one. And I reminded myself that no one is inspecting me as closely as inspect myself – in a literal or figurative florescent lit mirror.

As we near Thanksgiving, the “I am thankfuls” are appearing more frequently on the Facebook newsfeed and other social media. Today I am thankful for no major dental issues, for my imperfections because they make me unique, and for Debbie, who taught me an excellent life lesson on a chilly Tuesday morning in November.

à bientôt j'espère

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