Maybe I shouldn’t pick up my own prescriptions anymore. By the time I got away from the pharmacy window yesterday, I was on the verge of tears.
I saw my husband approaching, with a grocery cart and an amused smile on his face.
“What?” I may or may not have sounded defensive.
“That looked like quite an ordeal,” he said.
“Why? What did you see?”
“Just that old lady, hugging you. And the pharmacist looked kinda stressed.”
The white haired, blue sweater lady was ahead of us now, in the main aisle chatting with another little old lady. All the old ladies know each other around here. She was probably relating what just happened, Praise the Lord. I steered my husband down the greeting card aisle so she wouldn’t see me.
“What’s going on?” he asked.
“I paid for her meds.” That’s all I could get out, before the tears came. I rummaged through my purse for a hankie and found tissue. I was glad there was no one else in the card aisle as I dabbed my eyes. My husband looked like a puzzled emoticon.
“How much was it?”
“Fifty bucks.” His eyebrows went up. “I can’t talk now. Let’s just go.” I needed a minute to compose myself. He couldn’t focus on the grocery list now, wondering what the hell? I didn’t know why it was hitting me so hard. We walked it off in silence, down unoccupied aisles until our brains could focus on grocery shopping again.
On the way home I got the story out. The blue sweater lady and the rickety old man were at the window when I arrived; half a dozen prescriptions laid out on the counter. They had their wallets out, looking for The Right Card, but the pharmacist rejected every card they produced and tried to explain what they needed.
“Well then, how much is it going to be?” asked Rickety. The pharmacist gave them the price of each prescription. “Well, Praise the Lord, I guess,” he said. “What else can I say?” Rickety stuffed his plump wallet back into the pocket of his belted, suspendered jeans.
“Do you want to get some of it?,” Pharma asked, separating the pills from the $75.00 inhaler.
“How much for that?” asked Blue Sweater Lady.
“Fifty dollars.” Pharma looked up to see how long her line was getting. Just me and a man who was made impatient noises behind me. I was getting impatient too. This was taking so long.
“Well then, I guess I can’t get any of it.” Rickety had given up. Blue sweater lady shuffled the bottles around and made suggestions, but Rickety couldn’t deal with it anymore. Neither of them knew what to do next. Pharma was showing some stress now.
That’s when I got that lump in the throat feeling, just thinking about folks that age, unable to pay for meds. What kind of society treats its elders that way? To my way of thinking, their medications should be free.
I went off. I couldn’t take it any more. I stepped in between Rickety and Blue and told the pharmacist I’d pay for their meds. I paid for the fifty dollar pile of pills.
Blue thanked me and hugged me, all lit up and asked my name and do I shop here often and do I live in town? She said she’d pay me back someday.
“That’s okay,” I told her, patting her blue sweater. Rickety wasn’t sure what had just happened when old couple tottered away.
“That’s so nice,” said the pharmacy lady, misty eyed.
“Well, we can’t have folks going without their meds,” said I, anxious to get away.
I got my three dollar anti-depressant and finally, I was done at the pharmacy counter. I think the pills are helping; no bad side effects anyway. Still, I’m very susceptible to emotional stimuli. Anybody’s emotions.
Lest you think I’m being braggadocious, I’ll admit it wasn’t all brotherly love. It was an impatient, impetuous, reaction to an inefficient system and fear for the aged.
Plus, it was worth fifty bucks just to be done! I hate waiting in lines.
Daily Prompt via State of Your Year.