You wouldn’t have seen any flashing lights or scurrying EMTs, but it was still a major crisis. The nursing home resident was completely out of his favorite pickles, and not just any variety would suffice —they had to be Claussen.

Usually a family member kept him well stocked, but somehow the supply chain had temporarily broken down. That’s when Ani stepped in.

Hearing about his plight, the night shift CNA embarked on an emergency pickle purchase mission. Her lengthy search of grocery stores in two nearby towns was unsuccessful, but she brought back the best she could find.

All this was on her own time, with her own money, and even though they weren’t his special brand, the resident was amazed and grateful. “I tried to pay her back, but she wouldn’t let me,” he said later.

I hear examples like this all the time, of front-line staff who see their work as significantly more than just drawing a paycheck.

Many are driven to go far outside their job descriptions for those they serve — and still never seem to think they’ve done enough.

Which brings us back to Ani.

After hearing the story, I gave her some good-natured grief about not finding exactly the right pickle. “All that personal time and expense, and they weren’t even Claussen?” I asked in mock disappointment.

“I know,” she replied, looking genuinely crestfallen. “I should have gone to Molalla.” It’s a phrase that has stuck with me ever since.

In her rural Oregon facility’s area, Molalla is one of the few towns she didn’t search. And though it would have meant even more personal time and expense, she still wishes she’d done it.

That’s what’s so inspiring and beautiful about people like Ani— they always have more to give.

And no matter what heights of service, self-sacrifice and compassion they ever achieve, they’ll still be quietly thinking, “I should have gone to Molalla.”