Small-town folks inspire big-time gratitude


Today I am unexpectedly filled with a need to talk about my village. The one I grew up in and returned to 20 years later — kicking and screaming, but that didn’t last past the first year.

Maybe simply because I am writing this two days before Thanksgiving and two hours before I desert my desk to go home and make dessert.

See what I did there? That’s how silly I’m feeling.

Every day in my town there are people who make my life easier, who watch out for my family’s welfare. Certainly, most are paid to do so, from the police force to the educators.

It goes much deeper, however, because people will insist on answering my frantic emails and rambling phone messages long after they’re off the clock. Well past the required boundaries of the official job description. And not just for me.

We will start with a group of pharmacists I know. Adore. This contingent of men and women work at a store I don’t care for. Its corporate treatment of its employees, for example, ranges from indifferent to mean. I don’t like to hand over my money there for much other than emergency milk and bananas.

Except at the in-store pharmacy. Since I took over prescription pickup duty almost five years ago, I’ve come to believe those folks wear white lab coats because their wings won’t fit into the cramped working quarters.

I’m just going to admit this: I’m a sad sight at their counter. My household has a fair number of medications going into various mouths daily, and everyone has been trained to call in their own refills. Most days when I arrive, I have no idea what I’m picking up, which insurance card to pull out or why my socks don’t match.

These professionals patiently walk me through it. When I look up, showing confusion on my face, those busy techs and pharmacists start over. Without making me feel any more dumb than I already do.

They call the insurance companies, fax the doctors’ offices, check for cheaper drugs, sometimes refill stuff just because they know it’s time. I don’t even ask; they just know.

To a working mom who is running around with her head cut off? I want to bake them delicious bread and hand it over, all hot and melted-buttery, that’s how it feels when that happens.

And there’s my bank, which almost became not the Bank of Sheila last week. The institution I’ve been with for a quarter of a century has sold its local branches to another, so it seemed a good time to take my money more local.

But I had forgotten. It wasn’t on the tip of my brain how many times the employees at this bank have rescued me. Take the days after my husband died. ... I didn’t know passwords, account numbers, automatic payments going out every month. I did not even know how much money I had in the bank.

Yes, yes, I know — that was just plain crazy. You try building lives for kids with brain trauma, however, and we’ll see what tasks you let go of.

You know something? My bank people just accepted me in all my misery and ignorance, gently guiding me without judgement. I had to be retaught how to bank. Embarrassing? Sure. These are people I see at school events and out eating burgers, after all. They saw me as capable, I believe, until I proved them ever so wrong.

And now they are right once again. Mostly. I do still call about things, like this charge on a kid’s account or that bill pay deduction. The bank manager — or anyone — takes the call, fixes what needs fixing and leaves me feeling secure. Safe.

That’s what came back to me last week, as I sat in the familiar, dated lobby and decided to stop proceeding with closing my account. This might be a big, bad national bank I was trying to leave, but inside the building were my people.

Who take care of me and mine, on and off the clock. In my little town.

Sheila Hagar can be reached at 509-526-8322 or


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