Thursday, November 29, 2012

I am a patient boy, I wait, I wait, I wait

I follow rules. I abide by policy. I don't cut in line. I don't try to pass expired coupons. I don't ask to have exceptions made for me. And I believe I am in the minority.

I went to pick up a prescription at Walgreen's yesterday evening after work. I wandered to the back of the store towards the pharmacy. When I arrived at the pharmacy, the young pharmacist (he looked like a very recent graduate from pharmaceutical school... very recent) was helping a young lady with several prescriptions. I waited at a comfortable distance as to afford them their privacy. Their discussion lasted quite a while, including at least four trips to the stockroom by the pharmacist. There was one available pick-up window and they were obviously short-handed. But, I waited for my turn.

Suddenly, a man in his 70s marched right up to an unmanned portion of the counter and leaned forward, craning his neck around to get the attention of an employee busily filling prescriptions out of customer view.

"Hey!," he croaked, "You got that Mucinex? The one with Sudafed in it?"

From behind the frosted glass, I could see the auxiliary pharmacist look up. Startled, he asked, "Excuse me?"

The old man repeated, this time a bit more agitated, "Mucinex with Suafed in it! Where do you keep that?"

The second pharmacist walked over to a set of shelves displaying all sorts of Mucinex and generic equivalents behind the pharmacy counter — in full, illuminated sight of any customer in a ten-foot radius. "Right here, sir.," he said, exercising terrific restraint, "What size package would you like? 12 doses? 24? 36?"

"Give me the big one.," the old man barked as he fumbled for his wallet. At this point, another customer had queued up behind me. The young lady was still getting the lowdown on her potential purchases. The pharmacist removed a 36-dose package of Mucinex-D from the shelf and informed the old man that he had to pay for it at this counter.

"Why can I pay for it up at the front register?," he argued and he turned to me for a little fraternal concordance, "What difference does it make where I pay for it?"

"They must have their reasons, sir.," I said, still looking straight ahead. (By law, products containing pseudoephedrine must now be sold behind the pharmacy counter since The Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2006 was passed to eliminate the use of pseudoephedrine in the illegal production of meth.)

Instead of taking his proper place in the queue line, the old man stood next to me, impatiently shifting his weight from one leg to the other and exhaling in an overly dramatic manner. He was still muttering about the obligation to pay at one specific cash register. Especially one with a long line.

"Hey, can I just pay for that Mucinex?, " he yelled, interrupting the lengthy consultation between Pharmacist Number One and "I Never Got A Prescription For Anything In My Life" Girl. Finally, the young lady paid for her many bags of medication and the old man pushed right ahead of me.

"Sir," began the young pharmacist, "I need to see your ID."

"My ID? What for?," and he handed over his driver's license before he got his answer. However, he refused to loosen his grip on the laminated card to allow the young pharmacist to examine it more closely.

As he wrestled unsuccessfully to free the license from the old man's clenched fingers, he announced "I need to scan it, sir."

"Scan it?," the old man protested, "No you don't! You're not scanning anything!"

I couldn't take this old man's shit anymore. First, he pushed his way forward to ask a question. Then, he butt in front of me in line. Now, he feels that federal law does not apply to him. "It's required by law, sir!, " I yelled from behind him, "You can't buy it unless they scan your license."

"Huh?," he said, "Oh. Okay."

The young pharmacist scanned the old man's license, explained five or six times where to put his electronic signature on the credit card terminal and the transaction was complete. He gathered up his purchase and stomped past me. He didn't even apologize for pushing ahead of me.

As I said earlier, this man was at least 70. Fifty years ago, he was in his 20s, a pretty vibrant time in anyone's life. That would mean he was in the prime of his life, the most vital time of his existence in the early 1960s — a time when technology was on the verge of exploding with space travel and organ transplants. It was the age of well-behaved and respectful suburban families (like the Cleavers and The Douglases on My Three Sons ). It was the era of civil rights and the ideals of freedom...and the airwaves were filled with the silly sounds of The Archies, the poppy sounds of The Beatles, and the psychedelic sounds of Vanilla Fudge.

So, where on earth did this guy pick up this behavior?

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