• Kirby Lee Davis

Of prescriptions, commas, purgatory, and one clumsy elbow

A bottle by any other name... is still a bottle.

I've been told I haven't shared enough stories lately, so here goes.

A week ago – well, actually it was a bit longer than that, but that detail opens more doors than I wish to enter today, so we'll keep this story current and say "a week ago" and be done with it.

And when I say "today," I mean as you read this, not knowing which day actually you will do that. Not that that's important, but it might be, depending on what I'm doing when you do it, which I haven't done yet. We don't even know if I'll still be alive then, which is a different point entirely. Equally important, but different. So we'll keep by your timing, which is, as you read this.

So as you read this, now, it was a week ago, but actually longer, that I decided to refill my monthly blood cholesterol prescription before its bottle runs dry – which raises another interesting point, in that the medicine bottle actually was dry to begin with. Indeed, it never got wet that I know of. I'm very good at keeping those things dry, you know, for that helps the medicine itself stays dry. I make sure to not even put the bottles in a place where they can get wet, although once I had one in a cabinet above the counter next to the sink, and low and behold, I accidentally tipped the bottle off that shelf. I tried to catch it on the way down, but all I had available was an elbow. They connected, somewhat, but the bottle took its own bounce into the sink, which just happened in its basin to have a plate just a tad filled with water.

Now if that bottle had fallen onto that plate, I could not now – as you read this, or a week ago, or longer – be able to say with a straight face that I had never gotten a medicine bottle wet. But it didn't, and I haven't, so I can. If you don't believe me, take a look at the photo I took of my face, which was made as I type this and thus remains true as you read this, as well as a week ago, or longer, but technically now, in real time for me, as… well, you know.

As straight as can be, with all the angles built into this flesh...

And before you say anything, that's as straight of a face as I can deliver. Take it or leave it.

And to be a stickler for honesty here, that bottle never runs. It just sits there on my counter, or in my medicine cabinet, or wherever I leave it – as dry as any three-letter word that's not "wet" can be, which is quite dry, I assure you, unless it's wet. But that's interesting, you know, for there are more than 100,000 three-letter words roaming about in this great but confusing English language of ours, and only one of them is "dry." Or "wet," for that matter. And that bottle is not the latter, thanks to one fortuitous bounce.

Of course "bottle," like "bounce," has six letters, not three. But most all of those 57,000-plus six-letter words are also dry... well, they're dry but not dry, if you know what I mean, since "dry" has three letters and they have six. But in their six letters, whether individual or combined, they are usually dry, technically speaking, like my medicine bottles. I keep them dry – the bottles, that is. Otherwise the contents would probably get wet and I'd have to refill my prescriptions more than once a month, and that would not make good sense. Nor does it make a good story. Well, it might at that, but it wouldn't be this story. So let's get back to that. I'm told I haven't told enough stories lately, after all.

And while we're on that sentence, there's another interesting point in the one before it – why someone arbitrarily decided to make a linguistics rule that a comma must follow "so" at the beginning of a sentence. They don't sing a comma after "so" in The Sound of Music, and if it's not in The Sound of Music, it shouldn't be in the English Language. Which is all that needs to be said on that subject.

Now – and by that I mean as you read this, which may be a week ago, or actually longer – when I go to refill my prescription – again, to make sure it never runs dry, or even walks dry, although that too is an impossibility, but another point entirely –

Let's start again.

To refill my prescription, I call my pharmacy's automated service, enter the prescription number, and listen as that system goes through its filling motions. Thus I learn my prescription is about to expire, so the pharmacist must call my doctor to approve and verify my refill. The computer tells me to check back in two days. So I do (note how I purposely leave out the comma there, defying the man, although there is one after "there" and to follow, so you comma fans have plenty to be thankful for). I then run once more through that same automated system to await the result. To my surprise, I hear the same prompt about calling the doc to verify my order. So I wait two more days, repeat the call, and get the same response.

With even my patience finally worn thin at this point, I forgo waiting and drive straight to the pharmacy – where I find my order ready to go. Indeed, it has awaited my pickup for several days. Apparently the doctor verified the refill within minutes of my original call, prompting the computer to give my prescription a new number… one that didn't get transferred to my account.

And thus, my week-long drift through phone purgatory illuminates another overlooked step in mankind's ongoing march towards automation.

One wonders what would have happened if that bounce had indeed thrown my bottle into the water... the label's prescription number might have faded or smeared just enough to force me to call the pharmacist direct – and thus I might just have bypassed my week in pharmaceutical limbo. For God does work in just such mysterious ways, when we let Him. But I had to try and intervene, catching that bottle just enough with my arm to keep it dry, all so that I could offer you that straight face.

It wouldn't surprise me if that shot doesn't go viral. It might just be God's way of reminding me, for the rest of my life, how my elbow got in His way...


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