Omigod, all I wanted was my medication. I take these huge blue pills for a mild case of Kuru I picked up in New Guinea- I shouldn’t have had the brain fritters, evidently- So I go the local PHARMAHAUS, because that’s what we have to do ever since the PHARMAHAUS goons took old Doc Phelps out into that cornfield and beat him to death with baseball bats, then burned Ye Apothecary Shoppe down and salted the ground upon which it stood.
I called first, and spoke to a very pleasant robot. The robot asked me for the refill number on my prescription, and I typed it in, 97845547987540N9849347493603240943074.
The robot said my prescription would be ready at 6PM. I arrived at the PHARMAHAUS at 6:34PM, and proceeded to the back of the store where the Pharmacists peer out from behind a high counter, with only the tops of their heads and suspicious eyes visible.
There was quite a long line at the counter. I was thirty years younger than any of the other people waiting, which at my advanced age is remarkable. The Old Lady at the front of the line was complaining as the Pharmacist wrestled her wedding ring over her arthritic knuckle for payment, but she pretty much had to stop once he shoved his hand in her mouth to extract the gold fillings from her teeth.
After the Pharmacist was done with her, he had a brief squabble with a fedora-wearing gentleman who kept saying something about how his heart would stop if he didn’t get his pills within 20 minutes…eventually he was given a number and told to go sit down in a chair by the door that was closest to the dumpster out back, just in case.
Then there were about four more geezers who had to be taken care of. Whine, whine whine. Don’t these people know how lucky they are not to be chopped up and made into Soylent Green? Have they never seen Logan’s Run? DON’T THEY REALISE HOW TRULY INCONSEQUENTIAL THEIR PROBLEMS ARE TO A 24 YEAR OLD PHARMACIST WHO’S BEING PAID $8.35 AN HOUR?
When, at last, it was my turn to be waited on, I gave the Pharmacist a rueful smile-with-wink, as if to say, “Man, I totally understand how awful it must be for a guy in a store to deal with customers,” and gave him my name.
“With a B?”
“Yes, in the Borax.
“No, von, with a “V” as in Vercingétorix.”
“What’s- worse than the forest?”
“The city is worse than the forest, I suppose, if you’re a squirrel. OH! No, you know, Vercingétorix, the Chieftain who led the great Gallic revolt against Caesar.”
“What are you talking about?” He seemed to be getting peevish, so I snatched a pen from the pocket of his long white coat and wrote my name on the band of the dead guy’s fedora.
The Pharmacist looked through some secret bins under the counter, then typed on a computer for a minute, then went in the area behind the very high counter which prevents the geezers from vaulting over and throttling the Pharmacists, and typed on another computer, and then came out and announced that my prescription wouldn’t be filled for a couple minutes, and insinuated that I should browse through the other consumer goods available in the fluorescent aisles.
I said, “Look, the robot distinctly told me that the prescription would be filled by 6PM.”
The Pharmacist didn’t answer, as he was trying to defend himself against the sudden vicious attack of an Old Lady swinging a walker at his head. So I went to browse.
The first place I went to look was at the toys, of course. The toy selection was amazing: there was a great selection of military action figures: there was a really nice little scale model U.S. torture chamber with a tiny victim on a waterboard, and some keen little toy drones. Everything was strangely overpriced, however. They wanted $47 for the Pay-the-Chief-Executive-Officer-Even-More-While-Cutting-the-Compensation-of-the-Common-Worker game, which I felt was excessive. Matchbox cars were three times what you’d pay for them anywhere else, and all of them were covered with ads for EXXtreme Guava Mountain Dew.
I meandered over to the magazines to look for porn, so I could pretend to be looking at something else while secretly enjoying the hamhanded double entendres on the covers. -Actually, a lot of the time they can’t afford double entendres and have to make do with single entendres- There wasn’t any porn, unless you count those Muscle magazines. I opened one for a moment and burst into tears at the sight of some poor misshapen ruin of a man. He looked like a bunch of cantaloupes held together by twine netting. There were also some nice magazines for mercenaries, featuring ads for eyeball extractors (looked a lot like a standard melon-baller, actually, but MUCH more expensive)and custom kits to modify your hunting rifle into a laser sighted armor-piercing automatic napalm bazooka. But not so much as a single lingerie magazine, because that would be obscene.
There were so many shampoos. I wonder if some people use a different shampoo on each strand of hair? Because you could. I was absorbed for quite awhile admiring the selection of tooth whitening kits (like teeth shouldn’t be kinda greenish yellow). There was an entire aisle devoted to deodorizing different portions of your anatomy. Elbow deodorant, shin deodorant, earlobe deodorant, etc… Do the people who shop at PHARMAHAUS really smell that bad, or is it just that they don’t naturally smell like a synthesized hyacinth and papaya potpourri waterfall? Because I do.
I really got kind of woozy and grossed out by the health and beauty aids. And again, everything was fabulously expensive, like the Colgate was made of 15-year-old Roederer Cristal Champagne or something.
It was an hour and a half before a hideously mangled mispronunciation of my name was broadcast through some giant Dixie-Cup speaker in the ceiling, and I went back to the Pharmacy and stood in line for another 20 minutes while the Pharmacist mocked and jeered at several more old people. The Pharmacist and I had another long conversation about how to spell things, and then he triumphantly produced my pills, in a bottle, in a bag, which he put into another bag. I presented my Insurance card with a flourish meant to impress the cowering old people, who had none.
The Pharmacist said that I wasn’t “in the system,” and proceeded to “put me in the system,” which was about as easy as filing taxes for a major corporation, by the looks of it. Several of the people in line behind me perished of dehydration while we waited. Then I went to the front of the store and stood in line for 45 minutes while this sixteen year old cashier was unable to “scan” things and made incorrect change for a sequence of hopeless people. After my copay, my generic Kuru pills were only 45 cents more than I made last week at work!
I left the store, and breathed the sweet air of the parking lot- (why does the PHARMAHAUS smell like mothballs + Circus Peanuts?) The Moon was high in the sky…just a slim sliver of a new Moon, like the tip of a fingernail. That reminded me that I had meant to pick up some fingernail clippers. I could have gone back into the PHARMAHAUS for them, but I decided I’d rather just see if I could excavate some out of the salted ground where Ye Apothecary Shoppe used to stand.