Gangrene is an acceptable excuse

April 15, 2012

What's your excuse when you call in sick or even just want to take a day off?

Yesterday, I was anything but one of the all-time greats. I was one of the worst. The Yin and the Yang of JP. It was Sunday and we had been open for an hour. The technician walked over to me and said, "Hey, you are a grumpy old man today. What's your problem?" He is a 50-something man with gobs of worldly experience. He has life standing. He has my permission to intrude like that. He is not a teenage girl.

"What are you talking about?" I was defensive, but I knew exactly what he was talking about. I was busted.

"She got the prescription at Walmart and she wanted me to counsel her. That's the Walmart pharmacist's job, not mine." Another day, I would have counseled her.

"You could have told her that nicely."

"I did tell her that."

"You weren't very nice." He gave me a look. "She was about to cry."

I argued with him a bit, but he was right. "Listen," I said, "I am not on my game today. I have a bad cold or something. I am short of breath, my head hurts. Just help me get through the day. I will owe you."

"Why are you here? Why didn't you call out?"

"If I don't show up, the pharmacy doesn't open. You know that. There is no one to call at 8 o'clock on a Sunday morning. Pharmacists work sick. I have been doing it for 4 decades. When I smoked cigarettes, I was sick every spring and every fall. I worked. It never even occurred to me to try to find someone else to work today's shift."

"Is that an old-fashioned attitude?"

"I don't know. It's mine."