Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Pharmacy Years: Mom and Pop Post Mortem

Before concluding this lengthy series, I find I need to report on the fates of the mom and pop pharmacies I've discussed.  As I had revisited the sites of my previous workplaces, I again stepped across the thresholds of those stores in which I toiled for nearly 10 years. You may remember, dear reader, both were in a shopping center in southern Palm Beach County, Florida, but in different suites.

The first store closed in August 2004 after its records were sold to a nationwide chain. I spent nearly a month helping the owner break everything down. To my horror, the back wall of the pharmacy revealed a huge stain of greenish blackish mold after we moved some shelves. Must've been all those tropical storms and resulting water damage. I was in a sick building all that time.

A few months later, a Pakistani woman opened a new age gift shop there. An odd place for such a specialty retail, I thought. I  stopped in to meet the very friendly lady and bought a few items over time, including some incense for my wife. Fascinating to see my old store configured so differently. One room that had stored an IV hood (never used) was now set up for massage therapy, with one of those portable tables. I never indulged one there, for some reason. The owner struggled, as business was sporadic at best. To augment cash flow, she opened a postal counter.  She was there maybe just over a year before the dreaded sign appeared in the door yet again.

Next, a lunch counter that had become a huge success 2 doors down decided to expand into our old space - a move that turned out to be their undoing. I had heard from my barber (who did maintenance for nearly all of the tenants) that the owners had a plethora of other issues, but overall it just seemed like the expansion was premature.  I had eaten at their place from day one, but darned if the food's quality didn't decline with the move. Too bad.

But then another restaurant quickly assumed the space with much better results (and food) and to my knowledge is still going strong. A diner with a good breakfast menu and sassy middle-aged to older waitresses who wear short shorts and flirt and shoot the shit with nary a breath. This is their second location, the original is in downtown Delray Beach to the south. I've sat in the new cafe and reminisced, amused to see hash being slung where prescriptions had once been filled.  I'm fascinated by such things. Time moved on again.  All of the urgency of years past (employee infighting, hold-ups, nasty patients) was forgotten, even unknown amongst the gossip of  of the current elderly canasta mavens and truck drivers.

M & P #2 closed about a year after I left. All 3 of the owner's stores, in fact. One of my former co-workers called to tell me. Apparently, the announcement was a complete surprise to the staffs, but perhaps it shouldn't have been.  By this time, I was working in an ENT office for my externship.  I heard accounts later on of the owner's exploration of  new ventures such as opening a pool cleaning service. He still worked as a pharmacist, now in Big Retail.

What of the store itself? Some other enterprising pharmacists (a husband and wife) moved in to the corner unit and set up shop, painting the interior a not exactly inviting yellow and blue. If you read the entry from 2008 describing my wanderings around my old shopping center, you'll recall that I met the husband and offered some advice. I'm not sure if it was taken or how successful they've been. I continued to visit my barbershop in the center until early 2011 and heard about all the shady goings-on in the parking lot near their pharmacy.  Drug transactions and such. Not a new thing in that parking lot. We caught a few of our own suspicious customers making deals out back near the spillway and even right in front of our store.

I very rarely visit that plaza these days. There is a great deli there but otherwise there's little point. I got weary of driving the distance once a month for haircuts, so I found a guy closer to home, though I miss my old gebonis and their hijinks. But the entire place is basically one long unfavorable memory.  Not all bad, of course, and from the experience I got to meet some wonderful people, but now I view it all in the rear view mirror, where it belongs. An image that grows dimmer and dimmer the farther away I get.

But there was one more job before I was done with my pharmacy career. Who would've thought the words of Pete Townshend would prove so relevant?

Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss...

TO BE CONCLUDED

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