"We have a pill for that."
"Do you? I want more than just an aspirin or tylenol. I think it's beyond advil as well," she said.
"Anything else would require a prescription ma'am," I responded.
"You couldn't maybe slip me one of those stronger ones?" Her wink was very suggestive.
"No ma'am. You need to see your doctor. It's the only way."
"Fine. Do what you do best and direct me to the chicken wings." I pointed to aisle 6.
"Over there in the freezer department." She left in a huff.
I resumed my typing.
I was almost fininshed with the label for prescription number twelve of the forty-three lined up to be filled.
"Hey, you! Behind the counter."
"I'm so sorry, sir. I was distracted by the work I have to do back here." I turned my full attention to my customer.
"What can I do for you sir?" I leaned towards him.
"I got this problem."
"I need you to look at it. Lemme behind the counter."
"I'm sorry, sir. That isn't allowed."
"But I gotta show you my problem."
"Wel, go ahead. Show me."
"It's kind of embarrassing, doc. It's..."
"I'm a professional. You can show me." I said this thinking it was probably a rash on his stomach. I was new to this retail pharmacist role having passed my boads only a few weeks prior to this conversation.
I was wrong.
"OK. If you say so." The man in front of me unbuckled his belt and tugged his zipper down dropping his pants. Next his underwear.
"I got this rash here. Can you see it? Get closer, doc. It's driving me crazy."
The woman an aisle over fainted. The three on the next aisle were gathering for the show. The manager who normally sat in his boxed window above the floor was running down the aisle.
"Stop that!" He yelled. The ladies were sniggering as a crowd gathered.
"Uh, I think you better put that away. Your best bet is a doctor. That looks like something that is gonna need more than you can get over the counter."
He quickly pulled his pants up and rebuckled his belt. "So you can't do nothin'?" he asked.
"I'm sorry. That needs a doctor's attention."
"Can you give me some idea what's wrong down there?"
"I would hate to hazard a guess at this point. I suggest you go to the doctor's office down the street. He'll take you in. Tell him I sent you." Our friend Dr. H-- was a block away and we had good relations with him.
"You should go now." My suggestion sounded like an order because I saw the uniform come through the front door. "And try to slip past that cop. He isn't one to appreciate the professional consult in this instance."
"Oh, OK doc. See ya," he said making a hasty retreat through aisle two.
The policeman rapped on the counter.
"I hear tell you got a prevert 'spozin' himself back here."
"No, officer. Nothing of the kind. An over zealous customer who had me look at a rash in a delicate place. It was a misunderstanding."
"So what's these ladies giggling about?"
"You'd have to ask them, sir. I have to get back to work." With that I returned to my typewriter. I had a tech who was supposed to be in by this time. I took a minute to call.
her phone rang over and over so I hung up after twenty rings.
She tapped me on the shoulder.
"Yike!" I jumped.
"Sorry, didn't mean to scare you."
"Where the heck have you been? We've been open for two hours. Can you see how far behind I am?"
"Maybe if you didn't have your customers strip you'd be finished by now," she laughed.
"Very funny. Not my fault. He dropped trou before I could stop him."
"I was impressed," she said. "Except for that..."
"So how long were you standing there?"
"Long enough," She broke into a loud cackle which was echoed by the women still grouped in the aisle close to my counter.
"Alright! That's enough. That young man had a very personal problem that had him quite worried. Let's get on with our lives here."
The small crowd dispersed. I went back to my typing. The phone had been ringing constantly but I'd been ignoring it with all the commotion.
My tech began getting the prescriptions lined up. The phone was still riinging. I looked at her. She ignored me as well as the phone. Finally I grabbed it.
"Hello, this is Dr. S-- I want you tofillaprescriptionforampicillinandtriaminicformypatient--give250mgqidforsevendaysandtriaminictidoneteaspoon. click."
"That's ampicillin... Hello. Hello. Doc? Could you repeat that please?"
"Hey, pharmacist. You back there!"
I was trying to figure which Dr. S-- had just called so I could call back and find out what he meant his patient to have. He was a little to quick for me.
"Hey! You! My doctor called in a prescription! I'm here to pick it up. I'm in a hurry."
Frustrated I hung up the phone. When that person comes in I'll have to find out who the doctor is and call him back, I was thinking as I turned my attention to my customer.
"May I help you?" I said as friendly as I could.
"Yeah. I got a prescription should be ready by now."
"Name please?" He told me. I checked the bin holding all finished prescriptions. Nothing. I checked all the prescriptions my tech had lined up. Nothing.
"I'm sorry sir. I don't find anything. Do you spell that with a C or a K?"
"Whadaya mean you don't have it? My doctor said he was going to call it in."
"Who was your doctor?"
Oh Shi.., I thought. This is the guy getting the ampicillin.
"I'm sorry sir. I'll have to give your doctor a call. I don't seem to have that one yet."
"What?! He said he was calling it in. It should be ready. Check again."
Being civil I went through the motions. The phone was still ringing. Other customers were dropping off their prescriptions. A line was forming behind Mr. Belligerent. I could see the faces frowning up and toes tapping. It didn't matter that the customer at the front of the line was making a scene. They wanted their prescriptions and were wondering why they weren't ready. A day in the life, I thought to myself.
"Sorry sir. I don't see it."
"Well, call my doctor! He may be real busy. He may not have had time to call it in. You need to call him now!"
"Yessir," I said. "Please bear with me folks. I'm a little backed up."
"You know how long I've been waiting?" said one customer.
Toward the back of the line I heard, "What's taking so long? I handed my prescription to you ten minutes ago."
"I don't have time to wait this long. Gimme mine back. I'll take it to Soandso pharmacy. They don't take this long."
"As soon as I help this man, I'll be right with you."
"I don't care. Gimme my prescription."
I told my tech to give it to her. She took the filled bottle off the scrip and scratched through the number on it. "Here you go ma'am. And you have a good day." She handed it to her.
"It was a good day til I came here. Slowest service ever."
I was on the phone waiting on someone to answer as she walked out.
"Dr. S--'s office. May I help you?"
"Yes. Hello. This is Rick at Suchandsuch Pharmacy. I think Dr. S-- called in a prescription for mr. C---. I'm sorry but I need to clarify his order." The receptionist found the patient's profile and read back the prescription to me. I copied it down and repeated it to her.
"Thank you, miss." I hung up. "Alright, sir, I have your prescriptions. Please have a seat and I'll get to them as quickly as I can."
"You know what?"
"No sir, What?" I asked.
"I don't want 'em."
"Yessir that is your choice, but I'd like to remind you that your doctor ordered an antibiotic. It would be best if you took it as prescribed. You don't want to get sicker do you?"
"I'll take my chances. You guys just want to rip me off. The doc got his so now you're gonna get yours. Not this time, buddy."
I watched him leave. His next stop was the liquor store across the way. Funny, people will spend big bucks on booze but resent a pharmacy it's pay for something meant to keep them healthy. They willingly pay for booze and its detriment to the liver with a huge smile, I thought to myslelf.
"Ok. Who's next?" I said with a smile. Only four more hours and I'd be able to have a pack of nabs and a coke while typing. Lunch wasn't a thirty minute sit down in a pharmacy. Nope. One ate on the run and smiled at every disgruntled patient handing a prescription across the counter. Those twelve hour days were certainly a joy to some pharmacists but I found them to be tedious, trying and highly uanappreciated by those shelling out their hard earned dollars to the man behind the high counter.
There were those few who were a joy to serve. I do have some memories of those folks who allowed the time necessary for filling prescriptions. Some forget that the medicines handed out by a licensed professional can be life or death. A few minutes to double check can save a life. No one knows the pressures better than a harried pharmacist.
"Hey, you!" said the lady standing at the counter. Only eight more hours to go.