Monday, January 30, 2012

Career Paths

In a marriage, you do things for each other. Some things are awesome, some are ordinary, some dreadful, and some just plain dull. Actually, things start off as dull, but lately nothing ends up that way. I pass by our pharmacy on the way home, so Sara asks me to stop and pick things up once in a while. The other day, the doctor was supposed to call in a prescription for her, so I wrote myself a note and stopped there on the way home. One of the reasons I don't really mind stopping there is that no matter who you are in life, sooner or later you have to stop at the CVS for something. You just can't avoid it, and at our CVS smack dab in the middle of the Main Line, billionaire socialites, hungover Villanova students, middle class Joes, and garden variety lunatics are all at the same level in life while standing in line waiting for our pierced and transdermally implanted checkout clerk to wait on them.
When I got there, it was almost empty, just a few stragglers in the aisles. I got in line at the prescription counter behind a woman who looked to be in her 60s... Well dressed, rotund, and pulsing with energy. I sort of tuned her out while she rattled on about a prescription she was waiting for, but the more she talked, the less I could ignore the conversation. After a couple of minutes, it got interesting.
"I found a dollar in the parking lot", she said to the pharmacist. "I found a dollar."
My ears perked up. The pharmacist, I guess because he couldn't muster up the correct response to this, stared blankly at her. This was completely unacceptable, apparently, because she fished the dollar bill out of her jacket pocket and waved it around in front of him. Then, to hammer the point in, said "it was just blowing around out there!"
In my head, I had so many sarcastic answers to this conversation that I started to mentally categorize them into lists - mean funny, sarcastic funny, well golly gee funny - you know, lists. Before she had put the bill back in her pocket I had devised a complex story about an elaborate dollar bill tracking system that I had developed in high school - and how by taking the temperature of the bill I could tell how long it had been out of someone's pocket. Then by taking into account average wind speed and direction, adjusting for the friction as it tumbled across the asphalt, I could pinpoint the exact spot where the bill had first been lost. These calculations, coupled with the CVS security camera footage (which I'm sure I could get access to) might just show us who was walking in or out of the pharmacy when this tragedy occurred. The rest would be easy (I would confidently explain) because I could use some basic facial recognition software to identify the person, and with the pharmacy records, simply refund the money to their debit card from the woman's bank account and she could keep the dollar, and everything would be even-steven. "Unfortunately," I thought I would say, as she peered lovingly into my eyes having solved her grand dollar bill dilemma, "although my lost bill tracking algorithm is flawless, it costs several million dollars to fire up the Cray supercomputer I have in my trunk and run through all of the calculations. I hope you have your checkbook."
Still, the pharmacist had nothing, and he continued look at her with a blank deer-in-headlights sort of stare. Luckily for him, she turned and walked away, and he went about shuffling the prescription bags on his shelf. I was next in line, and when he turned back to me and said "can I help you?", I mustered up as straight of a face as I could and said, "yeah, hi. I think I might have lost a dollar in your parking lot."
You know what I got from him? Nothing. Not a smile, not a giggle, nothing. I was sure (in my head) that it was a pretty damn funny thing to say though, so I gave him a good 20 second pause.
still nothing... so I moved on... "I'm here to pick up a prescription for my wife" I said, and gave him her name. He picked through the prescription bags, then looked in the computer.
"Are you sure she had something waiting?" he asked.
At this point, I was still running through dollar bill identification jokes in my head, so I wasn't really all that upset I was going to walk out of the CVS empty handed.
"Well," I said, "she said the doctor was going to call something in for her, but maybe she's insane."
And you know what I got from him? No, no you don't, because in my wildest imagination I could not have come up with a more boring, white toast of an answer. He turns to me and says, "I think it's more likely that the doctor didn't call it in."
As if I was implying that she was actually insane. Really. In his head he must have decided that this was the most plausible answer, given the options I had presented him with, and that's what I got. She's not insane. Gotcha. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I'm not a pharmacist.

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