I stopped in at our local pharmacy last evening on the way home from work. Picking out the items I needed (those in stock, anyway, our branch of this national chain is notorious for never having exactly what I need), I found myself at the back of the store, next to the pharmaceutical counter. As opposed to the usual levels of madness, the area was almost totally empty, with no one waiting in the prescription line and only one woman in the non-prescription line. An employee was behind the counter, and as I approached, I asked if I could pay for my items there (after all, there is a cash register). She responded in a sing-songy voice that I could pay anywhere.
Then she walked away from the counter. I waited a moment, assuming that her return was imminent. It seems, however, that I was wrong. I took a step in her direction, and much to my amazement, I found her fiddling with products in the natural and homeopathic department, adjacent to the pharmaceutical counter. I could feel my inner bitch start to awaken as I threw my opening salvo.
"So, I guess I can't pay here, then?"
She looked at me, almost surprised to see that I was still there, hovering around her station.
"You can pay anywhere," she repeated, as she slid back behind the counter. "You can go pay in Cosmetics."
"But I'm already here," I said, standing firm.
"People might need to buy medicine," she replied.
"But there isn't anyone else here. I'm the only one here. If there were other people, I could understand, but there's no one," said I.
"She's right, you know," piped up the woman being helped at the non-prescription counter to my adversary behind the counter. "There's no one else waiting to be helped."
My newfound ally and I exchanged smiles and rolled our eyes.
My adversary (strange – her voice was no longer sing-songy) started to admit defeat, clearly beginning to realize how stupid she sounded, but then another pharmacist appeared and began pressing keys on the computer keyboard. "The computer is busy now," she said, with just a hint of a smile. As I rolled my eyes and quickly scanned the other registers, the other pharmacist moved away from the computer, and suddenly, it was no longer busy.
Triumphant at last, I was finally allowed to pay. Victory was mine, and how sweet it was. With my asinine little transaction behind me, I quickly made my way out of the store. It did not escape my notice that it took this lazy sloth of an individual more than twice as long to try to weasel out of helping me than it actually took for the actual transaction to take place. I marveled at her work ethic, which clearly – hopefully – had seen better days.
When I complain about stuff like this, veteran Israelis like to impress me with stories about how bad things were ten and twenty years ago, telling me that today we are seeing a real improvement. Clearly, these folks have never been to my pharmacy.