Magazine article Drug Topics

What I Learned from My Friend, the Drug Addict

Magazine article Drug Topics

What I Learned from My Friend, the Drug Addict

Article excerpt

VIEW FROM THE ZOO

It may be a sign that I'm getting older, but I find myself looking back on my pharmacy career more and more of late, reflecting on lessons of the past in an effort to learn for the future, not to mention entertaining myself with what seems more than my quota of wacky behind-the-counter stories, the lion's share of which come from my time as a graveyard pharmacist.

Zombies on parade

What I remember most about those years was the group we called the "Tone People," the folks who, more nights than not, would gather in the pharmacy seating area and wait, perfectly silent and still, until midnight. Having been told that their prescriptions, almost exclusively for narcotics or other controlled medications, would not be tillable until a certain day, these people gathered and waited for the very second that day would arrive.

The amazing thing was how they knew. At the time, the store where I worked would change the format of its in-store radio programming at midnight to something a little peppier. The switchover was signified by a tone that indicated the shift from one format to the other. If you listened closely, you could pick it up. When that tone came, the people waiting to collect their meds would slowly start to walk to the pharmacy pickup area, almost like a group of zombies, I thought.

Here's the clincher, though. No one ever explained the tone to them. Completely on their own, the Tone People figured out what that tone meant and how it related to them. To this day, that amazes me.

At the time, the words and terms and attitudes that most of the pharmacy staff displayed in referring to the Tone People were ones I would say were prevalent throughout most of the pharmacy worid. I wasn't any different. I found the Tone People an annoyance-at best a threat to my license, and at worst a threat to society. And my attitude reflected it.

Attitude meets reality

Then I met "Brenda" (not her real name). When forced to share a table at a busy lunch spot one day, we shuck up a conversation, immediately dicked, and soon became fast friends. One of the things that drew me to Brenda was that she reminded me a lot of me. We shared an almost identical outlook on life, not to mention a lot of individual likes and dislikes, which ensured that our time together was always entertaining. …

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