This rant is not so much about the what of pharmacy as it is about its where. In real estate parlance that would be location, location, location. Or because I work and live in the same town you could put it another way, “Don’t shit where you eat.” Rolling out of bed and into work has its advantages, but as you may surmise, also has its drawbacks.
After trudging through another three day work weekend, where the customers are kind enough to inform me how beautiful it is outside and insist on expressing their condolences that I have to work on such a day, I get a much needed day off. I’m fortunate to wake to a beautiful spring morning. There are birds singing and the sun is quickly warming up the day… so far, so good.
There are better ways to spend a day off, but today I have a scheduled visit to my dentist to have some old fillings replaced. His office is also in my home town. (Starting to see a pattern emerge here?) Going to the dentist doesn’t bother me. A little novocaine, my headphones, and I’m good. Why they insist on asking questions when your mouth is filled with a combination of hands, sharp pointed instruments and cotton batting is one of the predominant questions of our time, but they do, and with nods and hand gestures we communicate. Then I hear the words “not good”. I perk up. “Too much decay,” he says, “you need a crown.” I feel the beauty of spring slipping away as the sun fades behind gathering storm clouds…
Temporary filling in place I trudge to my car and head for my local coffee and donut shop. Today I deserve that glazed donut. Upon entering I see and ignore customers and ex-customers alike. This is easier with donned headphones and sunglasses, but enough mutual contact is made to bring an “oh shit” into my mind. I sit with my morning delicacies of sugar and caffeine and sip my coffee, whose scalding temperature is neutralized by the novocaine. “That will hurt later,” I think. Then, after noticing blood on the coffee cup, I realize the chunk of flesh I just bit through on my lip will hurt even more. From the corner of my eye, I see one of my ex-customers, who belongs in the ignorant asshole category, heading my way with a question looming in his eyes. Screw this. Still attached to my headphones, I get up and make a beeline for the door before contact is made. Outside, the sun is still shining and the warmth is delightful.
Oops…more storm clouds. Some asshole has parked so close to my car that I can’t even get between the two vehicles, never mind open the door. I sigh as I climb in through the passenger’s side, work my way across the seat and settle back. I close my eyes, sip on my coffee and let the music transport my mind and invigorate my spirit. My travels are abbreviated by a tap on my shoulder. Upon opening my eyes, I see a little old lady who has somehow maneuvered her way between my car and the adjoining one. I see her lips moving, but can hear nothing. I raise a finger (no not that one) in the “hold on a second” gesture, and take off my headphones. Seems like a nice enough elderly woman. Blue white hair, amiable face, and still some lights on behind her affable smiling eyes. The question she asks seems to indicate that the adage, “I’m a pharmacist, ask me anything” is emblazoned on my forehead: “Excuse me,” she said, (not so long ago, the words “young man” would have followed that phrase), “my car is running roughly and I was wondering if you could have a look at it. I’m afraid to drive it home.” If she were thirty years younger I would have thought, “What a great pickup line,” and would have been flattered. Instead, I just felt petulant. I replied that I didn’t know much about cars, though I do, hoping this would dissuade her. But no… she just gazed at me with a lost look in her eyes, so I begrudgingly agreed. Climbing over and out the passenger side, I went to her car. I got behind the wheel and saw I had a passenger, who happened to be a very nice elderly woman and a customer of mine. I said, “Hi Betty,” and after a moment of surprise, she recognized me and excitedly returned the salutation. I informed them that the car was safe to drive the 1/3 of a mile back to their apartment complex, but a call to the mechanic would be prudent. Betty then put her hand on my arm… “As long as you’re here, I have a question about Advil…” More storm clouds and a rumble of thunder.
There are numerous other examples: I’ve looked at rashes in restaurants, diagnosed bronchitis in banks and sciatica at Staples; and I have to deal with the witty repartee about my loyalties when I run into customers while shopping in the stores of my company’s competitors. Just when I think I have had enough and need a change of venue, I run into someone who offers to buy me a cup of coffee, or stops me just long enough to say thanks for some well timed piece of advice. In other words, I feel like a mench, and that’s gratifying. So, I guess I’ll hang around my town, avoid eye contact when I need to, and play country doctor when I can. The two-way street of recognition and respect is not so bad. I’ll just have to watch for speed bumps, and take detours when needed.