If REM were to sing about my Saturday afternoon, it would go like this:
That’s me at the corner,
that’s me at the stoplight,
I’m leaving my prescriptions,
trying to keep up with bags
and I don’t know if I can do it,
oh, no, I’ve paid too much,
I haven’t bags enough,
I thought they were in my backseat,
I thought they were in my trunk,
I think I’m not too old to cry...
Here’s what happened: The last stop on my list of errands today was the Kmart pharmacy to pick up prescriptions. While I was in Kmart, I decided to shop for some other things and ended up walking toward my car with a cart containing a number of plastic shopping bags and other large items.
When I’d parked, I'd pulled through one parking space and into another so I wouldn't have to back out. Another car had immediately pulled into the space behind me. That would have been fine if I'd stopped after buying the prescriptions, but now I needed my trunk, which was no longer accessible. Not only that, but the cars that had parked next to me while I was in the store were so close I couldn’t squeeze the shopping cart through to reach my trunk from either side. I briefly considered putting everything in the backseat, but I'd have had to make a dozen trips, closing the car door after each one because of the narrow passage.
There was nothing to do but get in my car and pull it forward, even though that meant blocking one lane of traffic for a couple of minutes. I tossed stuff into the trunk as fast as I could, gave the (seemingly) empty cart a little push toward a group of others nearby, jumped back in the driver’s seat, and headed for home.
Fifteen minutes later, as I pulled into my driveway, it crossed my mind that I didn’t remember putting the bag of prescriptions into the car. I don’t normally put them in the trunk because of the heat, but I didn’t remember putting them anywhere in the car. The last time I’d seen that little bag, it was nestled in the kiddy-seat part of the shopping cart, right behind the big, solid-plastic flap that covers up the leg holes –- the only piece on the whole cart you can’t see through.
I took all the bags into the house, checked inside each one, then went back out to check the car again. I was mentally kicking myself all over the place. If I’d left the bag of prescriptions in the cart, I thought, they’d be long gone. No doubt some young punks trolling the parking lot would have found them and would be on their way to peddle them, pill by pill, to kids who wanted to get high. Kids who wouldn’t know the pills were for high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
I'm one of the 45 million Americans who don’t have health insurance, and those five prescriptions cost me $414. Trying to find a bright side to the situation, I reminded myself that there are a lot of people in worse shape than I am. I do have some savings. I could come up with the extra money if I had to. I’d call Kmart, and if nobody had turned the prescriptions in, I’d just ask the pharmacy to refill them and I’d suck up the loss. That’s a high price to pay for stupidity, money I certainly can’t afford to lose, but I'm old enough to know that some of life’s lessons are learned the hard way.
That train of thought was followed by another, more alarming one: it wasn't going to be that easy. All those medications were on the last refill. I’d called in for updated prescriptions a couple of times already. This time I'd have to go back to the doctor before I could get new ones. Well, I thought, maybe the pharmacist could call the doctor and get her to approve just one more refill of each medication. Surely they’d all understand the situation. But at nearly 5:00 p.m. on a Saturday, how much would they care?
I fumbled through the phone book. By the time I found Kmart’s number, I was in a state of high anxiety. In the high-pitched, whiny voice that I detest but can’t seem to control, I told the girl who answered the phone that I’d left there less than 30 minutes ago and had left a bag of prescriptions in the parking lot. She asked for my name. I gave it to her, and she said, “I have your prescriptions at the service desk.” That’s when I burst into tears. Thank God for good Samaritans!
I’d worry that this might have been a “senior moment” if I hadn’t done things like this occasionally throughout my life. I’ve left half a dozen umbrellas in restaurants over the course of the past 20 years. Usually, I’ve been lucky (knocking on wood here) and the more important items I’ve left behind have been found.
My self-confidence took a hit today, but there's no question in my mind that I got off easy. What will I remember most about this incident? No question about that, either; I'll remember the kindness of strangers.