Tags: Jerking | Our | Chains

Jerking Our Chains

Friday, 20 February 2004 12:00 AM

I am standing in line at my local Rite Aid chain drug store. I have a lump the size of a baseball on my head, from the accident yesterday, when the girl pulled out of her driveway without looking. My head is throbbing. I need the pain medication my doctor has prescribed.

But that's not the most important thing. My daughter needs her medicine. There have been problems with this prescription in the past. The dosage was wrong, the insurance company gave us a hard time on the refill. The doctor called twice to try to straighten things out, but the drugstore never got it right. That is why I'm standing here myself. It's important.

I write everything down on a piece of paper. Very clearly. My daughter's name. The refills she needs. The refills I need. This is my neighborhood pharmacy, in the neighborhood where I've lived for 15 years, but it is not a neighborhood pharmacy.

What is your daughter's name again? I say it again. I have written it down. And your phone number? I say it a third time. The woman behind me in line rolls her eyes. The man laughs. We all know this routine. Things are not going well. The pharmacist is the only one working, she keeps taking calls, doing other things. What was the name again?

I ask for the manager. People recognize me. I am starting to lose it. My daughter really needs this medicine, I explain. I was in an accident, I explain. I am not well, I explain. Usually, I can deal with the waiting and the rudeness and incompetence at the chain drug store, but today I am sick. I will not be the one who will pick up these prescriptions. I am ready to keel over. I know I better get them right, right now.

Yes, yes, we have it all, the manager assures me. It will all be ready. Later, after she has picked the children up from school and taken them to play rehearsal – all the driving I usually do – I ask my babysitter to pick up the prescriptions, and go back to sleep. It is dark when my daughter wakes me up.

I don't have any medicine, she says.

Didn't Rosie get the prescriptions? I ask. Throbbing head, I get out of bed. I go through the bag. My daughter's medicine isn't there. Did they tell you one was missing? I ask my babysitter of 15 years. No, of course not.

It is, by now, near closing time at the chain. I call, in a state. A nice man is there. No, they didn't fill my daughter's prescription. They were all out of that medicine. Of course they should have called me. Of course they should have made an effort to find it at another store. Of course they should have told my babysitter when she came to the store. They did none of those things. Sorry. How about tomorrow?

They have also substituted a generic medicine for my medicine, without notifying me, or asking me, against the doctor's specific orders. Of course they shouldn't have done that, either. Sorry, too. How about tomorrow?

"Should I go to bed without my medicine?" my daughter asks.

It is 10 o'clock when I go out again, looking for another branch of the chain, one that might have my daughter's medicine. I am in another line, in another drug store, talking to the woman behind me in line. I remember when we had a neighborhood pharmacy, I say, telling her my story. They would take care of you. Deliver, even. Her story is worse. So is my girlfriend's, the next morning. Everyone has a horror story. Do you?

As a mother, I am at my wit's end. But I'm not just a mother, I remind myself even later. I am also a syndicated columnist, and a lawyer, and a political activist. Something is wrong. It isn't just the HMOs and the drug companies.

I know why I don't have a neighborhood pharmacy anymore. Rite Aid, and the insurance companies, drove them out of business, and now this is what we are left with. It is not OK. It is not right. It is time to stand up, and say that we've had it up to here and are not going to take it anymore. Populism of a different sort will shape this political year. Ask any mother in line, morning or night.

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I am standing in line at my local Rite Aid chain drug store. I have a lump the size of a baseball on my head, from the accident yesterday, when the girl pulled out of her driveway without looking. My head is throbbing. I need the pain medication my doctor has prescribed....
Jerking,Our,Chains
748
2004-00-20
Friday, 20 February 2004 12:00 AM
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