As a retail pharmacist you see many kinds of people come in to get their prescriptions, pick up health & beauty supplies and ask general questions about medication application. As a pharmacist you instinctively know to be discreet and understanding, especially when it comes to serious issues. Sometimes the questions aren’t serious at all or the customer makes a fatal error in word choice which gives the question a totally different meaning.
What they don’t teach you in pharmacy school is how to keep a straight face and answer these somewhat unusual questions. Sometimes you have to muster all your strength to keep a straight face and give a satisfactory answer. It’s absolutely not something to laugh about but encountering these questions often brightens my day. So for all you busy people out there who find yourselves in the pharmacy forgetting what question you wanted to ask, asking questions that you didn’t mean to ask or need to take 15 minutes to tell me your life history and how you managed to lose your prescription, thank you for brightening my day.
Here’s a few of my favorite questions from over the years, some are funny and some are just plain shocking. Hope reading them brightens your day too!
- Panicked Caller: Hello I have a question about my young daughter — umm I have put the Acamoli suppository into the wrong hole…..
- When I was the emergency pharmacy in Jerusalem I would be called out in the middle of the night. One time a patient called because he needed rescue drops (a natural anti-anxiety medication), remember it is 2am, I have been woken up and I am grouchy:
Me: I cannot come out in the middle of the night to sell you rescue drops
Him: But you are the emergency pharmacy
Me: Yes, that is for prescription emergencies only
Him: You have to come out or I will call the Ministry of Health and make a complaint
Me: OK, if that is what you feel is just, then go ahead
Him: HANG UP 10 minutes later Hadassah emergency room calls: We have a patient here and you need to issue him a prescription for rescue drops
Him: See, I have a prescription emergency and now you have to come and open the pharmacy
- Back in Australia, I had a famous male actor come into the pharmacy I worked in – he approached me at the pharmacy counter and asked that I step aside as he had a private question he needed help with. Of course I obliged. Many people asking question don’t want the other customer to hear what they are talking about:
Him: What color nail polish do you carry?!
Me: WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!! (there was a nail polish stand right next to him but he didn’t want anyone to see him looking)
- I had a 14 year old girl walk into the pharmacy and ask me for the morning after pill – this gave me an ethical dilemma, by law you have to be 16 to purchase it and she clearly wasn’t, do I break the law or do I let her have a baby – I chose to involve a social worker I know!
- In my pharmacy in Jerusalem I used to get asked a lot for a condom with a hole in it – supposedly there was a psak in order to collect sperm for a sperm test – the man would have to perform the act and collect the sperm in a condom as long as the condom had a hole in it.
- What does this Durex play ring do and how does it work? Can you show me?
As you can see my day is never boring! Please don’t presume that by writing this article I am not a serious pharmacist. I absolutely am. I just think that sometimes the best way to get through the day is to have a good chuckle and reflect on the funnier side of life. From next week I’ll be posting about some more serious pharmaceutical issues and news related items so keep an eye out. In the meantime feel free to get in contact with any pharmacy questions, as you know by now I have an open mind so there’s no need to be shy. We’d love to hear about some of your personal funny pharmacy and medical stories so feel free to share in the comments section!
Saul is an Aussie trained and registered pharmacist in Israel, he has been a retail pharmacist for 20 years and now owns and operates www.israelpharm.com, offering US citizens access to better priced medication online. Saul owns a pharmacy in Bet Shemesh and accepts prescriptions from all Kupot Holim. Ask him anything at firstname.lastname@example.org