CVS's Ever-Smiling Debbie
By Michael Bateman
For the past two and a half years, Debbie has left smiles on the faces of her customers at CVS Pharmacy while unwittingly building a reputation for her kindness in the Charlottesville community. Even if you aren’t a regular customer at the CVS on the Corner, you may have seen Debbie relaxing outside of the store, enjoying her break by reading a novel or watching passerby bustle about University Avenue.
Debbie Orme, or “Miss Debbie” as she is known to some customers, works the register at CVS Pharmacy. Debbie is best known for her enthusiastic greetings and farewells to anyone entering or leaving the store. Even just looking at these relatively small interactions, Debbie is able to make a difference in the day of almost everyone she meets. She embodies the fact that small acts of kindness are significant.
It is hard to say what makes her so easy to talk to--perhaps it is her endearing smile or her fast-paced Pennsylvania accent. Either way, her lively greetings to customers certainly have an impact: “[Debbie] is so upbeat that she can brighten my day no matter what else is going on in my life,” remarked Helen Gaynes, a student at the University of Virginia.
The positive aura that surrounds Debbie is difficult to describe but almost universally recognized by those around her. Annika Rhinehart, a coworker at CVS, described Debbie as “the most friendly woman [she has] ever met.” Annika highlighted how “Debbie is always bustling around and is a very hard worker.” What really sticks out about Debbie to Annika is “how [Debbie] likes to get to know people on a deep level.” This focus on relationships is certainly central to Debbie’s life; she volunteers with the elderly on the weekends, taking them on picnics and building deep friendships.
“I think 99% of people appreciate it. I’d like to think that every once and awhile I am able to make someone’s day. My goal in life is to hug at least one person daily,” Debbie said as we conversed outside of the store. “I believe the world is fundamentally a good place, and you just have to put yourself in other people’s shoes sometimes to see that.”
What is Debbie’s secret to living a kinder life? Empathy. Debbie remarked that one of her favorite parts of her job is interacting with people from cultures all over the world. “If I could change the world, I would put blinders on everyone so that they couldn’t see color or race,” she said. Debbie continued by explaining how interacting with customers from different cultures bolsters her ability to empathize with others.
“This is my first Valentine.” Debbie laughed, clutching the rose a customer had given her earlier that day. That was certainly not the first rose that she has received in her time in Charlottesville; the mysterious A.N.G.E.L.S. Society, a secret society at the University that encourages kindness in the UVA community by gifting individuals with a white rose and personal letter, has also recognized Debbie’s wonderful attitude toward life and the impact she has on the Charlottesville community.
Debbie spreads the most important message of all: kindness. The next time you’re walking down University Avenue, try to stop by and say hello to Debbie. Even if you don’t need to buy anything, you will at least leave with your day a little brighter.