When you’re a hairdresser, friends come visiting when their hair needs a trim.
When you’re a plumber, friends like to talk to you about their blocked toilet.
And when you’re a pharmacist, friends wave all manner of rashes in front of your face asking for a cream.
But don’t get me wrong – I became a pharmacist because it offers a harmonious blend of helping people, medical science, fastidiously neat shelving, and a swanky white coat. And, as you may guess, I really like to help people.
Today I was at home, sans the white coat, when a friend and her children arrive in a time of need. The kettle is put on and the blackberry muffins are passed around.
“Do you think you’d be able to check a nasty spot on my son’s face? I think it might be a boil.”
“Sure, no problem.”
“Here’s a good cream you can use, but it looks quite festy, like it needs draining. You probably should have it lanced first.”
There, my job is done. Simple. Back to my hot cup of tea.
But wait, what’s this? She’s ushering her son over to me. “Don’t worry, she’ll be really gentle. I’m certain it won’t hurt a bit!”
Oh… right… okay then… I guess piercing the face of a friend’s young son counts as helping people.
A pair of wide, panic-stricken 4-year-old eyes look up at me. “What will you use?”
“Umm, I think this is a job for my special Spot-Popper-Tool.”
“Where is it?”
“Over there” – as I point to my sewing caddy – “in the special Spot-Popper-Tool keeping drawer.”
Another encouraging push from his mother. “And I’m sure she’s got a special treat if you sit really still and keep your eyes closed.”
So now I’m in the kitchen, sterilising the implements and fishing around the back of the pantry for a chocolate treat in readiness.
Not one for many words, the patient solemnly nods in the affirmative at the treat I present, stoically takes his place on the couch and closes his eyes tightly. The crowd of curious little onlookers – who were surely drawn from their games by the medical spectacle, or maybe just the hope of a chocolate treat – rapidly scatter as I menacingly wave my special SPT at them.
I issue a token pre-chilling with an icepack, do some crucial medical patient-positioning, and then before you can say bursting boils, the job is done.
No shrieks. No tears. No nightmares tonight. The trust that can be bought with chocolate – when do we lose that?
My grateful friend, happy to be relieved of the distasteful task, watches me tidy my tools of trade as she returns to her cuppa. “So my daughter has been having a lot of trouble with bad stomach pains lately….”
Hold that thought. I’ll just pop on my white coat.
(original post published 5th June 2015)