Monday, January 20

Methadone Mad

I had picked an ould lass up from a local doctors surgery and she wanted to first go to the chemist (pharmacy) and collect the medication that the doctor had prescribed for her and then to be taken home.
Now it was late in the day, the woman had really struggled to get into the taxi, and so I offered to go into the chemist and collect her medication for her whilst she waited in the taxi. She was more than happy with this idea and so off I went into the busy chemist shop, only to be confronted by a crowd of people all waiting for prescriptions to be filled.
After a few minutes, I got to the counter and handed the prescription over only to be told that they were very busy and it could take up to half an hour before it was ready. Well the customer was paying for the cab so I went out and checked with her and she was okay with that since she would be sitting all nice and warm in the taxi.
I have not had a lot of experience of the etiquette of a busy pharmacy so I just followed the lead of what everyone else seemed to do. Well that sure opened my eyes to some strange human psychology and behaviour.
The idea seems to be that you hand your prescription in over the counter, then withdraw, and pretend to be looking at the display shelves whilst all standing in a sort of semicircle with all eyes looking towards the dispensing counter. When anyone fresh entered with a prescription, all ears and eyes gave them full scrutiny, with one young woman I noticed tearing her attention away from the male incontinence products she was browsing and stretching to tiptoes to see over the display. Folk seemed to be fascinated by it all and were magnetically drawn towards the counter whenever a conversation was taking place there.
The idea seemed to be that when your prescription was ready they called your name and you went to the counter and confirmed your address and then sometimes the pharmacist had a word about the medication which really seemed to fascinate folk no end. I could see the rapt concentration on the faces as they strained to hear every fascinating word.
Then I saw the look of absolute injury and outrage on all the faces when two people who had only just handed over their prescriptions were called forward within minutes. The agitation spread round the shop like a rampant noro-virus and mutterings were heard all the way from the cold creams to the condoms.  When the two had departed one woman who had more than a passing resemblance to Herman Goering dared to ask the staff why these two interlopers had been served before her.
Everybody took another step towards the counter and listened intently as it was explained that the shady pair had been in for a daily dose of methadone which is a heroin substitute used by addicts. Herman was still outraged and said that that was no excuse especially with “bloody junkies getting priority over us decent folk”.  The pharmacist came out and explained that if they don’t sort the people on methadone out quickly they tend to get very agitated and have been known to kick off and assault staff and cause major damage.  All fascinating stuff to me, then the entertainment continued with a rather seedy looking guy asking at the counter for a prescription to collect. The chemist brought the medication out and the now sweating chap reached for it eagerly, but it was held just out of his reach whilst he was asked for his address. We watched and listened open mouthed as he reeled off at least fifteen different addresses none of which were the right one. The meds were taken out of his reach and he shuffled out of the shop mumbling and swearing.
After what seemed like a lifetime, most of the crowd had been dispensed with and a handful and myself remained looking at the ear wax removal products. The chemist kept shouting out a name but everyone looked at each other and shook their heads denying that it was them. Finally, the thought entered my thick head that I didn’t know the name on the prescription that I was waiting for. So I checked with my fare and yep it was hers, when I went back in to collect it every eye looked at me suspiciously.

 Address please said the chemist you could have heard a pin drop during the embarrassed silence whilst I tried to unsuccessfully recall the customers address. Dohhh!!           


Unknown said...

Dear Bob,
My name is Nicole Prinz and I am a Journalism student from London Metropolitan University! I am currently working on a project based on the subject of unlicensed cabs in the UK. I came across your taxi tales blog and I was wondering whether you would like to talk a bit more about your experiences as a cab driver and your opinion on unlicensed cabs. Your participation in my project would be incredibly helpful. Thank you very much!
Nicole Prinz
my email address is

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