Thursday, November 09, 2006


Last Wednesday I went to my local Kuppat Cholim (health office) pharmacy to buy TUMS for me and my pregnancy heartburn and cold medicine for Adi. As usual, there was a long line and lots of chaos. The "take a number" system adds as much confusion as it prevents, since in addition to the "regular" line, there is an "express" line for people who are:

  • accompanied by children under 3 years of age
  • buying 3 or fewer items
  • buying only OTC items

Since all 2 of my needs were OTC, I positioned myself in a seat facing the "express" line, while grabbing a number as backup.
My number came up before my place in the express line did, but I was not able to waddle down to the far-flung free counter in time before an elderly patron with a higher number beat me to it. The pharmacists were zipping through the numbers pretty fast, since any given number could easily correspond to a customer who got served at the "express" line. I could have fought her for my position but since she had been ahead of me in the "express" line it didn't seem to matter. (If you're wondering: I had a better number than she did because another woman gave me her unused number after getting served in the express line. Confused? Yeah, so was I.)
Besides, I could see that the pharmacist at the express line was a young woman who I'd connected with before, so I was happy to wait for her as long as I could wait in a chair.
The young pharmacist spotted me and smiled. I thought I saw a bit of extra belly popping out behind her counter, but I wasn't sure. She signaled to me to go outside and around.
Around where? I signaled. Someone pointed me out of the pharmacy towards the medical center hallway. Confused, I went. There, the young pharmacist opened a door and waved me in.
I entered and found myself in the pharmacy storeroom. Cool!! Now it was clear that she too was pregnant! We exchanged cheerful belly points.

The reason we recognized each other is that when I went in to buy a pregnancy test from her back in April, she'd suddenly burst into tears. Now she explained:

"The day you came in, I had miscarried before that day. I had just tried again and done a test myself that morning. It was negative and I was so disapointed and upset. But now, thank God, I'm pregnant with twins!"

I wasn't surprised. I was very happy for her.

She asked me what I needed.
"Oh yeah, I suffer from heartburn too, at night." And on the cold medicine, she helped me choose something better for Adi than what I'd requested. I waited by the open shelves of drugs while she made change, hoping she wouldn't get in trouble as her colleagues came and went, filling orders.

I was so thrilled by our connection and the special service that I kissed her on both cheeks to thank her.

"We should get together... with the babies!" I suggested warmly and gave her my card. "Do you live in Haifa?" I asked her. She's Arab, so I had some doubts.

"Oh yes, on Stella Maris," she said.

Cool. So I have valuable "proteksia" at the pharmacy and a nice new friend!

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