Even after living here for a year, there are still a few things I have yet to get accustomed to..
Yup, you read right. Pharmacies.
You see..most pharmacies in the States are located within convenience stores (think Walgreens or CVS) or large supermarkets..And most of the time, unless you are dropping off or picking up a prescription, you almost never have to communicate anything to the Pharmacist other than “When will the prescription be ready?”, or “I am picking up a prescription for Mr. So and So.” (that is, unless you have a specific question about a medication).
I really like this system.
All of the isles are clearly marked off, all of the items are easy to find..making going to the pharmacy convenient, easy, and hassle free!. My theory as to why this is so, is that it helps people avoid a lot of embarrassment and questioning looks.
But in Lebanon (giggles to herself)..going to the pharmacy, at least for me, isn’t a pleasant experience at all. In fact, it is very UNpleasant, awkward..and sometimes just plain weird. I seriously get a pang of anxiety (much like I get when getting into a serveece) every time I step foot into a pharmacy here.
You see, most of the things that I’m accustomed to being over-the-counter (on shelves) back home, are behind the counter here. Which means that every time I go to the pharmacy I have to ask the pharmacist for any and everything.., unless I’m buying make up, face cream/wash, or stockings.
To me it just doesn’t make sense to have things behind the counter unless you need a prescription to buy them or unless they are reallllly expensive! I mean, right?
Now maybe this doesn’t seem like a big deal to you. But it becomes a big deal to me when I’m standing there, trying to explain to the pharmacist (who is in plain clothes by the way, dressed just like me..It’s amazing what importance I’ve been trained to give to a lab coat. Somehow, telling a stranger dressed in plain clothes your personal problems is a lot more uncomfortable then telling a stranger dressed in a lab coat your personal problems) what I need.
You see, most of the time, if not ALL OF THE TIME the pharmacist has no idea what I’m talking about. Probably because most of the medications here are obviously known by different names in the States.
And instead of being discrete about it, and asking me to explain further..the pharmacist calls everyone else who works in pharmacy over to where I’m standing..(and sometimes even the other customers as well).. to try and help him understand what I’m saying. And before I know it, I’m surrounded by five or six people and using hand gestures to explain what I need. (:::wildly gesticulates in the air:::)
Now don’t get me wrong..I appreciate the gesture, I really do..but on more than a few occasions (and after 5 minutes of hand gestures), I have run out of pharmacies with no medication in my hand, and a very flushed and embarrassed look on my face.
After telling some friends about my pharmacy phobia..I heard stories, specifically from women, that were even worse than mine! Like times when they would go to buy contraception, only to be refused service unless they could produce marriage papers, and other times when they would be given menopause medication instead of contraception!! (Who knows if this was on purpose, or by accident..but imagine her surprise when she found out she was pregnant.)
But maybe, just mayyyybe.. this discomfort is the price I have to pay for everything costing me one tenth what it would cost me in the States. I don’t know..what do you think? Am I being ridiculous?
Have you ever had something uncomfortable or embarrassing happen to you at a pharmacy in Lebanon? I’m hoping I’m not the only pharmacy phobe out there!