The words were as illegible as ever, and I could see the puzzled expression on the pharmacy assistant’s face as she read it over a third and fourth time. It was a one act play behind the counter. Assistant is puzzled and gives the document to the wise old pharmacist who in this case didn’t look like he had graduated high school. Getting old was a bitch. Most days it didn’t feel that way. On the inside I still felt 21, or 40 – depending on the humidity. It was everyone else who kept getting younger and younger looking, with less and less experience at their job. Where was the 80 year old wise men? Where were the ladies with the life experience who could see the root of your problem and solve it with a smile, a reassuring hand on your shoulder and 10 words of sage advice? They were long gone. Replaces by highschoolers in lab coats.

“Ms. Franklin?” the pharmacist said out loud, but not specifically to me. “Can you step over here, to the consultation window?” I had seen that window hundreds of times whenever I visited the drug store. I had yet to see anyone there, thought I always thought that that is where the patient found out that the cancer fighting drug they were taking no longer worked – A death sentence from the High School kid. Or, that was where you learned that the price of your arthritis drug was no longer covered by insurance and that you now owned $712 dollars or you’d be in so much pain you couldn’t work anymore, and if you couldn’t work anymore you’d lose your insurance and then none of the pain suppressing drugs you needed would be affordable, leaving you to see your body on the street to earn enough money to pay for the heroin you’d need to end your life. That’s what happens to people who end up at the consultation window.

I wondered which of these things would befall me as I walked up to the window. It was set back against the wall with the toothpaste display on my left, and sun screen to my right. I wondered if I brushed with Coppertone SPF 50 (waterproof) if that would work better than heroin. At least I wouldn’t have to suffer the humiliation of finding no buyers for my body. Getting old was not easy I told myself as the pharmacist slid the prescription back to me.
“I’m afraid we can’t fill this prescription.” He said unsmiling, without making eye contact.

“Why not? I just got this this morning. My doctor said it was necessary and that any pharmacy would be able to fill it. Is it my Insurance? Have I reached my limit? My Deductible? I know I missed a lot of work, but it’s not my fault, it’s the pain, and this should help.”

The pharmacist raised up his hand. “It’s none of these things, I’m afraid.” I looked at him not understanding. “This script is for Duke, your golden retriever. We don’t carry medication for animals. You can fill it across the street at Bakers farm and husbandry supply, just not here.”

I realized I would not suffer the humiliation of selling my body, experience a heroin high, or ever brush my teeth with Coppertone. There was a part, albeit a small part of me that was disappointed. Duke, who was fogging up the windows in the Buick, would be happy to see me, as he always is.

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