A Customer or a Guest?

By Larry Teren

Waiting in a line of one person at the Red Bullseye Pharmacy to pick up some medicine for Ma. The pharmacy assistant calls out, “will the next guest step forward?”.

Now you all know that when you pick up medicine at a pharmacy (when did they stop calling it a drug store anyway?), they ask a series of questions to see if you are who you say you are. The lady clerk asks me Ma’s street address, phone number, maiden name, color of eyes and the nickname of her high school basketball team. There is no margin for error. The clerk looks at me and tsk tsk’s when I say that Ma’s eyes are blue. She whips out a photo taken of Ma at my niece’s wedding a year earlier and says that her eyes look more hazel. I’m told to step to the back of the line and start over. Since no one has joined behind me during this interrogation, my number gets called again. This time the clerk is willing to forgive my one slip up and places the package containing the prescription bottle on the counter. I pick it up, turn and start to walk away.

She yells, “hey, come back.”

I turn to her and ask why. Looking at me in an odd fashion, she says, “you didn’t pay. You gotta pay., buster.”

I reply, “but you said I’m a guest. Guests don’t pay.”

She now says, “don’t be a wise guy or I’m gonna call “Security”.

I smile, take out my wallet and suggest she start thinking of visitors such as yours truly as customers rather than guests. She says something in Spanish and we left it at that because my response would have sounded more like Portuguese.
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