Monday, 28 November 2011

The difficult second post

I have a cold. They're common, I know, which is why I didn't think anything of popping into the chemist for some medication.  At the counter I asked the pharmacist for cold and flu tablets - the ones that apparently help you 'soldier on'.
After a lengthy sizing up, during which I dutifully sneezed, sniffled and coughed, she reluctantly placed a small packet of tablets on the counter.  I could tell she still didn't fully trust me with them though, because then she said, ''May I see your driver's licence?''

Really? I need a driver's licence to buy a packet of cold tablets?  What's next?  A polygraph test?

Pharmacist: Why do you want to buy cold and flu tablets?

Me (wired up): I have a bad cold. My nose is stuffy and I feel feverish.

Pharmacist (looking smug): Oh, is that so? Well, would you mind explaining to me then why the sensors just detected increased perspiration?

I should have quit while I was ahead, taken the contraband and run, but something made me press on and ask, ''Also, do you have a sugar-free lozenge that will help my cough?''

Well that did it. From the pharmacist's stupefied expression, you'd think I had asked for a lozenge that would give me a sex change. Thinking a joke might help lighten proceedings, I quipped, ''I need something to suck at bridge - other than my card play!''

She sighed and marched around to the front of the counter. She was clearly befuddled, and not a little put out by my request. ''A lozenge …?''

''Ah, yes. If it's not too much trouble.''

''A cough …?''

''Well I have this tickle, you see,'' I cleared my throat delicately to demonstrate.

She stood grimly before the vast array of medicated lozenges and I could tell it was hopeless.  I had set her an unsolvable conundrum. It was like watching a fly hurling itself endlessly at a pane of glass, right next to an open window. She pulled out, examined and put back box after box, then gave up and passed me a pack of Soothers with extra honey.

''Um … sugar-free, if possible,'' I mumbled apologetically, and threw in a few extra coughs for good measure.

Finally, she grabbed the last packet on the end of the shelf and handed it to me in resignation. ''This is the best I can do.''

I glanced at the front of the box: Sugar-free cough lozenges. ''Thank you,'' I rasped. "You've been most helpful.

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