Note: This is a series of episodes entitled “LAST REFILLS”. They will probably make more sense if read in order. Then again, they might not.
LAST REFILLS: Episode 2- “The Sisters of UnMercy”.
(sometime during September in 2010)
The entire town of Eastborough knew Roy. They all believed that he once served Viet Nam because that is what he told everyone. No one challenged him on it, but if that were true, it would have made Roy four years old when he was fighting in ‘Nam. Roy spent most days and nights walking up and down Main Street writing in an old tattered note book. Except if it rained. During that weather, Roy stuffed the notebook in his back pocket and walked down Main Street carrying a long metal tent pole.
The Sunday that the new pharmacist replaced Jesus, was the third day of a long stretch of late summer rain in steamy, late, September. Roy carried his metal tent pole down Main Street, entered The Stone Gardens with it, and walked over to the bank of the river. He stuck the pole into the slowly passing water as deep as it would go and observed where the water level rested. He opened his notebook, wrote down his observation, and removed the pole from the river. He continued down the road and breathed a sigh of relief. He couldn’t wait to tell Jesus. Roy was the pharmacy cashier who worked the evening shift at the drug store on top of Main Street.
Lisa, the 23 year old shift supervisor, typically arrived one minute before the store opened. Since all the pharmacists knew this, they never bothered to arrive on time. It was company policy to have front end management open and close the store. Had it been Frances who was scheduled that Sunday, she would have not bothered to show up on time. She refused to have to wait outside for Lisa.
Today was the first day for the new pharmacist and when Lisa got out of her car, she sprinted right past him as he waited in the rain. He strolled up to Lisa as she inserted her key in the pharmacy door’s lock.
-“Why are you so early?” she laughed.
-“It’s about 27 seconds before we open…And my name is Phil, by the way, your new druggist.”
They entered the dark store. Lisa wanted to joke about him needing a towel, but Phil was already vigorously drying his hair with his white pharmacy jacket. This left his hair a wild mess and he looked like one of the 14 nephews would have looked, after they had a bath. Phil poured out some of the rain water that had collected from the lid of his drink and then he lapped up whatever remained from the top of the cup. Lisa quickly considered the new pharmacist; a short, middle aged, nerdy-looking guy that needed a haircut. After she turned on the lights, she walked past him. The drops of water that still covered his glasses made rainbows.
…District sent us another loser…
Lisa expected him to bother her each time a Spanish-speaking customer needed help in the pharmacy. She had even told him that there were plenty of Spanish-speaking people that lived in town, and that he should page her to come to the back and she could translate. She was slightly mad when he didn’t so she went to check on him in the back. When she got to the prescription department, she saw that Phil had been counseling the customers with sketches when it was necessary. The counter was littered with his drawings of pills and capsules, some with arrows pointing to mouths, and others with arrows pointing to worse body parts.
He was on the phone with a customer.
-“You’re right sir, I am an asshole, but not for the reasons that you think. Goodbye.”
-“Who were you talking to on the phone like that?”
-“Some customer named Gary.”
-“Don’t worry about him, he’s a freak, he screams at everybody, and always wants a delivery on the weekend, even though we tell him over and over that we don’t do the weekends.”
-“I need directions to his house. I’m going to take his medicine over. He needs his Prograf and prednisone.”
-“What?” “I don’t care if he needs his protons and neutrons, don’t deliver to his house by yourself, that guy is a psycho. Didn’t you read in the paper last year about the guy who got beat up in this town?”
-“That’s just the regular newspapers you sell up front”, Phil said, “I’m going to bring you a copy of the newspaper I write for. It’s called The Mundane Times. Instead of all the bad stuff that makes the usual headlines, we cover all the countless interactions that folks have every day that don’t end with shootings, stabbings, or beat ups. Each edition is higher than 15 New York City phone books.”
The shift supervisor did not waste any time on Sunday night. She called the lead tech to tell her about the pharmacist that had replaced Jesus. During the phone call with the shift supervisor, the tech repeated everything to the pharmacist-in-charge in a text. The pharmacist-in-charge then called the district manager. The district manager told her to meet the new pharmacist at the store the next day, and to submit her observations in an e-mail to the district office, human resources, and risk management.
Meanwhile the lead tech agonized about her situation to her sister, her brother, her mother, and her aunt who had just arrived from Greece. Then she interrupted her husband’s plans to watch Sunday Night Football by agonizing to him, and she continued to agonize well into the night, robbing him of that sleep, forever.
The pharmacy’s lead tech was Helen. She was loved by the customers. They usually bypassed the pharmacist and went to Helen with their problems. The male customers were drawn to her like magnets, but Helen never flirted back with them. She was a serious twenty-six year-old and what she lacked in patients for incompetent co-workers, she made up for with respect and concern for the sick and cranky customers.
From her countless conversations the night before, she learned she should say as little as possible to the new pharmacist. He sounded like he was just another crazy American. To be polite, she did ask him about how things turned out on his first Sunday.
-“I did OK. But there were all these notes left on the counter from Jesus. In all my years in catholic schools, I never heard so much from Jesus before.”
-“No, that’s the name of the pharmacist you replaced.”
-“That makes sense. You don’t want to hire Jesus as your pharmacist. He’d go around healing everybody, and then you wouldn’t have any prescriptions to fill.”
-“That’s not funny. I’m Greek Orthodox”.
After that, Phil and Helen worked without a word. In less than an hour, Phil realized she was one of the most talented technicians he ever worked with. She could make any prescription problem disappear. Phil told her he would call her by a nickname if she didn’t mind.
-“What nickname is that?”
-“And what does that mean?”
-“It means you work magic on the prescriptions. This is the easiest Monday I have ever worked in a pharmacy.”
Helen did not protest about her new name. And she was a little disappointed to see that Frances had arrived in the pharmacy.
-“Is it true that you delivered to Gary yesterday?” “He’s a problem customer” Frances said.
-“Oh hi, Francine!”
-“My name is Frances.”
Phil glanced over at Craft but she was hiding her face behind her hair.
Then Frances noticed a cup of Dunkin Donut coffee resting on a shelf in with the birth control pills. Phil had placed his coffee there when he arrived at the pharmacy that morning.
-“Why is there a cup of coffee in my oral contraceptives?”
-“Phil doesn’t like to put his coffee cup on the counter. He told me he has a tendency to spill things”, Craft answered for Phil.
-“Sorry Francine, I’ll move it.”
At that moment, Emily and Lisa entered the prescription department. Emily was carrying the morning pot of coffee. She was about pour some for Craft and the new pharmacist. She looked at the cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee that Phil was holding and made a face.
-“Oh, you buy your coffee?” Emily bellowed, “So, I guess I won’t be pouring you a cup every day.”
-“Of course you will.” Phil said, “In one his notes to me, Jesus told me your coffee was to die for.”
-“No, pouring you another cup would waste it. Your cup is already full.”
Frances, Craft, and Lisa watched the two of them, smiling. They couldn’t wait to see how this would end. Phil reached over to Craft’s work station and picked up an empty mug and held it under Emily’s coffee pot.
-“Please?” he pleaded.
Emily slowly poured into it, looking Phil in the eye the whole time. Phil brought the steaming mug up to his mouth and guzzled the entire thing with one swallow. He pounded down the mug then lifted the Dunkin’ Donuts cup and swallowed all the coffee in there as well, tossing the empty cup into the HIPAA trash. Finally, he reached into the pocket of his lab coat and removed a fresh can of Diet Coke. He popped open the top, leaned back, and loudly gulped downed every drop.
He wiped his mouth with his hand and said, “Aaaah!”
Frances, Lisa, and Craft immediately turned away and began to furiously text on their cell phones.