The words might as well be tattooed on our foreheads: "I probably know the answer. I don't even charge."
Jim PlagakisAn older couple sat in the sun. He wore a black baseball cap with the stylized white NY that meant the Yankees, she lurked under a wide-brimmed, floppy yellow hat. They were talking about me. Being hard of hearing, she spoke loudly, and I caught every word.
“His name is Jim and he won’t care. Babe said he is nice.”
“No, I won’t.” It was pretty clear he was used to this. “Leave it be, Peachy. I’m doing fine.”
“No, you’re not doing fine, Harold. We’ve been married for six months and you haven’t had one good night’s sleep.”
“You won’t ask him, then?”
“No, I won’t bother him. I would never give poolside legal advice, Peachy,” he muttered, implying that asking my advice would show a lack of breeding.
I tended to agree with him, but for you and me, the words might as well be tattooed on our foreheads: I am a pharmacist. I probably know the answer, so ask me. I don’t even charge.
Peachy moved her chaise closer to mine. “Can I ask you a pharmaceutical question?” When I failed to answer, she reloaded. “You are a pharmacist?”
“I am.” I wasn’t going to make this easy for her.
I have never been able to figure out why people I barely know believe that it is okay to ask me professional questions at the grocery store, my daughter’s school, or even in the swimming pool. What the heck is up with that? And how can they expect you to give them a $75 consultation for free? When they’re at work, pharmacists give away millions of dollars’ worth of consultations, and they get hit with this stuff even when they aren’t.
Not everyone is so presumptuous. Years ago, a workingman who appeared to be Hispanic had to have his blood pressure recorded in order to get a job. I did what he asked and typed a statement for him. He spoke no English; his friend interpreted for him. “He said to thank you very much and to give you this.”
“I can’t take that.” It was a $50 bill. I hoped it would go for groceries for his wife and children back in Guatemala, or wherever he was from.
Peachy broke through the barrier that Harold and I had erected. “I have to get some Doriden for Harold,” she said. “His doctor is being a mule about it. Where can I go?”
“How do you know about Doriden?”
“It put me to sleep back in my Beatnik days.”
And you stayed asleep, I thought. And high. With a couple fingers of good scotch whiskey, gluethimide was safer than Nembutal or Seconal (ask Marilyn Monroe), and it was easier to score than ’Ludes.
“I really liked Doriden,” she said. “I want some for Harold.”
“I won’t take it,” Harold interjected.
“Shush,” she said. “I am talking with Jim. He’ll tell us if Doriden is safe.”
Here was my chance, so I took it. “Doriden is not safe, even if you could get it,” I said.
Peachy’s eyes turned cold. I was no longer Nice Jim.
Have you noticed that you are smarter than the doctor only when you give them what they want?
“Aha!” Harold was on his feet. “What about Ambien?”
“It’s no good, Harold.” Peachy was ice and homicide now. “Am I right, Jim?”
How does this happen? Why does just being pharmacists qualify us for unpleasant encounters like this one? How do you tell them, No. Leave me alone. Ask your own pharmacist, the fee will be reasonable. I’d like some privacy. Please.
I just picked up my book and moved into the shade.