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October 31, 2002
Trick or Medication

Chocolade was sold out today, except for the really bad kind. I somehow managed to find a combo pack somewhere in the back of the pharmacy. It still amuses me. Pharmacies in Europe are these dream stores for fans of flasks and drawers and other alchemistic knowledge. When we needed a balm from our Pharmacist in Poland, we would give them the prescription, and then he would make the stuff, usually overnight, just in case some special substances were needed. In Germany, a similar situation. The pharmacy smelled like the inside of a chemistry set. The chemists all looked like scientists, and they were. I liked to buy syringes in the pharmacy. I just enjoyed the penetrating inquisitive look of the pharmacist, when I requested the works, sterile syringes, sterile needles, I could have been in a risk group for HIV infections, I could be sharing my favorite substances with friends with whom I did not want to share the needles. Syringes and needles were super cheap. I used them to refill my ink pens and to work with my liquid paints, of course. I tend to almost pass out when I see a needle go into one of my vein.
Pharmacies were the only places open 24 hours. One of them was always open at least. One pharmacist per neighborhood would stay up, or sleep with his chemicals, just to make sure one could get medication at any time of the night. Imagine waking up a scientist at 3am to get tampons and some aspirine. Last time I saw a face similarly angry was when I leaned on a Brinks armored truck. Somebody inside made it pretty clear that this was not the place to be.
Pharmacies in the US are different. There is some pharmacy in the back somewhere, but it is mainly a place that has it all. Sure, batteries can be good for your health when used properly, yes, cosmetics can prevent attacks of depression, yes, pen and paper might be great to keep sane. But how about all the sodas and sugar-bombs available in the front. Cigarettes in the Pharmacy, in my still sly Hispanic neighborhood also Cigarillos, chew tabacco. How is that? It feels a bit as if the hospital had some bone breakers and skull smashers in the waiting room, or as if ambulances came with some mercury shots in the minibar.
I got my chocolate in the pharmacy today. There have been many children at the door already trick or treating. There was no Halloween in Poland. It was just recently introduced in Germany. Who knows maybe the Apteka and Apotheke will soon also be little supermarkets there.
(I know this is a very strange connection.)

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