Encounters, episode 4: Pharmacist

“Can I help you?” she asks. Her hair is dark and chin-length, and her smile is friendly even though she looks a little tired. I tell I need a refill, give her my name, my birthdate. “Which prescription do you need?” she asks. This is a fair question. I am currently on seven prescription drugs and take two other over the counter supplements, fiber pills, and an allergy pill every day.

“Folic acid, please.”

“Is that going to be all?”

“Yes, thank you.”

“Okay, well, give us about twenty minutes to get it ready.” She smiles and I smile and go to push my cart away from the window, toward the blood pressure machine my daughter is trying to operate.

In a slow-motion instant, I watch as my cart gently but thoroughly knocks over a display of lip balm, spilling its contents over an area approximately the size of Providence, Rhode Island.

“Oh, good grief,” I mutter.

“Mommy, why did you do that?” Pooka asks, running over from the blood pressure machine. My adventures in gravity are far more interesting than a machine that refuses to recognize her existence.

“It was an accident. Help me clean this up.”

“No! I don’t want to.”

“You get to anyway. Come on. Help me.”

By now a woman and her two daughters have come up to the counter and are watching me and my five-year-old hurriedly pick up spilled lip balm. The pharmacist has come out from behind the counter and crouches down to help us. The three of us make short work of the scattered green boxes.

“You’d be surprised how many people do this,” she tells me.

“Ha! Well, I’m glad I’m not the only one!”

“Whoa! That’s a big handful! You sure are a good helper!” She smiles winningly at Pooka, who takes this opportunity to make a new friend.

“Yeah! I’m Mom’s helper today! We’re going to buy groceries and I had a donut and we’re going to buy birthday presents because my brother is going to be ten!”

The mess cleaned up, the lady and her daughters still waiting and staring, the pharmacist must get back to her regular work, but not without one more wink at my daughter, who is now trying to climb into the cart and chattering nonstop about how she is going to buy Darth Piggy some Legos for his birthday.

“You ladies have a great day!” she says as she unlocks the door to the Top Secret Pharmacy Counter Area.

The lady and her girls are still staring. I grin at them. “If you’re ever bored, you know, this is a great way to pass the time. Just knock over some displays and then clean them up. You know. Super fun.” Yeah. I’m that person that talks to strangers in stores. Usually I can at least get a courtesy laugh, but not from these three. They just keep on staring, and then turn toward the counter to place their order.

“Bye now!” says the pharmacist as she types in the name.

I walk away with a smile.

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