A Pill Hard to Swallow

September 17, 2013

by Nancy Redman

I arrived at a drugstore to fill an antibiotic prescription for a recent tooth extraction.

I was shocked to see a line extending five blocks long.

What could possibly be the reason?

I joined the line and turned to an elderly gentleman sitting on his walker seat.

How long have you been in line? I asked.

Three hours, he said.

What? Why not go to another pharmacy? I said.

The man looked wearily into my eyes.

It will make no difference, he said.

There are eight-hour lines everywhere.

Why? I asked.

The new robot automation is malfunctioning, he said.


Every pharmacy is using robot automation to assist pharmacists, the man said.

Unfortunately, the pharmacists are not as sophisticated as the robots.

What do you mean? I said.

Some robots are catapulting thousands of pills in all directions, looking like manic lawn sprinklers.

Some robots are turning around in a continuous circle.

One robot is continually filling the same prescription.

The staff, ducking the pills while wearing protective head gear, remained on the phone waiting for tech support.

One pharmacist in his white lab coat snuck outside for a quick smoke.

His assistant, who finally got through, was desperate. Listen, he said, I can’t find the purple wire!

I see red—blue—no purple wire.

Can I combine the red and blue wires to make a purple one?

No? That won’t work?

To my amazement, tech support finally arrived. They were wearing headphones under helmets with cushioned body suits and shields. As they tried to dismantle the robots, I slipped in behind them.

I quickly found a stock boy and offered him one hundred dollars for penicillin for my tooth extraction.

As I rushed out of the pharmacy, I walked past the old gentleman, who was being attended to by paramedics.

Will he be OK? I asked.

Yes. As soon as we get his prescription filled.

Nancy Redman is an actress, standup, and playwright. Her one-woman play, CLUTTER: I’m Saving My Life and It’s Killing Me won Best Comedian Award United Solo Theatre Festival 2011 and Best Directing Award for Austin Pendleton. Ms. Redman’s plays are published at http://www.indietheaternow.com/Playwright/nancy-redman

All Downsized Living blog posts are fictitious and satirical. Any resemblance to real persons is coincidental and unintentional.


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