The following facts are pertinent to this anecdote:
1. Tom, the head pharmacist (who doesn’t actually appear in the anecdote, so that portion isn’t pertinent) had asked me to wear a tie to work.
2. It’s the summer of 2006.
3. Elderly Greek retired textile workers believe a tie connotes authority.
“I want to talk to that pharmacist.” The voice is that of an elderly Greek retired textile worker. I’m not really paying attention because I’m busy helping the customer at my window.
“He’s not a pharmacist, he’s a medical student.” This voice is that of Olga, a fellow pharmacy technician. She’s the third Olga I’ve met in my life, the third who has been Russian, and the second who had a thick Russian accent. Our eastern European customers adore her and will do anything she says. Our Greek customers don’t extent the same courtesy.
“He’s a medical student? He’s a doctor? I want to talk to the doctor.” My customer doesn’t look particularly amused by the scene going on next to him. Our customers are frequently rather dour looking. They’re sick, of limited means, and have been standing in line for twenty minutes in a downtown basement. I continue to work on his order so he can leave this dungeon as soon as possible.
“Chris darling, I need you.” A phrase I generally enjoy hearing, but not so much from pregnant Russian women at pharmacies. I finish with my customer and let the next person in line know that I’ll be back in just a moment.
“Sir, I’m not a doctor. I’m going to medical school next month.” The Greek man is short, wrinkled and generally Greek looking. I’m not sure how to describe Greek looking, so I’ll stick with that. He’s also irritated.
“I ordered XYZ. They are blue pills. These are white pills. Where are my blue pills?” I say XYZ to provide some anonymity, because I don’t remember what the pills were, and because I had no idea what the pills were at the time. I turn to Olga.
“Are these the generics?” She nods in the affirmative. Olga knows what she’s doing. She’s been a pharmacy technician for more than a month. She could probably spell the drug names correctly, which I rarely could.
“Sir, these are the generics. It’s the same drug, but it will save you money.” Lest you think Olga inept, I had heard her say the same thing minutes earlier.
“Same drug, only cheaper?”
“Yes. Call us if these don’t work and we’ll get you the blue ones. But these should be the same and are cheaper.” He looks at his pills for half a second.
“Alright, I’ll take.” He walks away from the counter. Olga and I watch to make sure he doesn’t change his mind. Olga puts her arm around my shoulder.
“My doctor.” She purrs. I roll my eyes and walk back to my window where my next customer is glaring at me.