"But he doesn't look like us." - (3/16/2021)

By Dr. Ron Gasbarro

Jimbo came into the pharmacy, limping on his left leg, as he usually does. He asked for a refill of his cholesterol medicine. “Doc, can you fill this fast? I’ve been out of these for a week now.” The pharmacist said,” Oh, you forgot? If I wasn’t on vacation, I would have reminded you.” “Well, I just did not feel like having your new pharmacist fill my scripts,” Jimbo admitted. “Why not,” replied the pharmacist. “Because he is young? He got great grades in pharmacy school. He is very competent.” “No, that’s not it,” Jimbo said looking down and tugging nervously at his red-white-and-blue face mask. “Did he make a mistake or do something wrong?” the pharmacist said with great concern. “No, it’s just that...well, he doesn’t look like you or me. I don’t see why you couldn’t get a regular pharmacist to work here. You know I have been coming here for 20 years.” The pharmacist turned purple with anger and looked away while he calmed down enough to address this matter.

Bigotry has been around in America since its beginning. The French, the British, the Irish, the Italians, the Native Americans, the Muslims, the gays, the Japanese, the Jews, the Blacks, the Latinos, the Asians, the disabled, and even women. Heck, if the Martians came and set up a colony on Earth, people would hate them too – all because they were different. These days white supremacy is the greatest threat to our democracy. The January 6 insurrection at the Capitol Building in Washington made that abundantly clear. The domestic terrorists who participated in those deadly hate crimes waved Confederate flags, wore swastikas, openly defecated, and brandished weapons. To the pharmacist, these were not Americans, they were ugly thugs. 

And who threw the lit match that ignited this disastrous event meant to cause more harm than it did? A president of the United States who wanted to steal back the 2020 election that was won squarely by Joe Biden. A president so cowardly, that he perpetrated others to do his dirty work. A president so corrupt that he called on officials in Georgia and in other states to illegally throw the election his way. A president that is the opposite of patriotic: a grifter, antidemocratic, a would-be dictator, that some call a “useful idiot to Russia.” All in the middle of a global pandemic. And while a Republican congress, made up largely of elderly white millionaires, looked away. 

The US Department of Justice reported that while hate crimes seem to be on the increase, the truth is that they are being reported more frequently. When in the past, many incidents were brushed under the rug, by either the authorities or by petrified victims. The #Metoo Movement has crystallized the resolve of the discriminated so that they step forward and demand equity. 

The pharmacist has owned his shop for 30 years. He has patiently built up his patient population and has established an excellent reputation in his community. Yet, integrity means more than money. He knows right from wrong. And while he may take a financial hit because of what he is about to do, he is secure in the fact that he is the true American – not someone who flies the flag on his front lawn and then sits in his living room, berating others because of their color, religion, or personal inclinations. 

“You know what, Jimbo?” the pharmacist growled. “I’m transferring all your prescriptions to another pharmacy. And if you do not like it, you can rot in your own juices!”

Ron Gasbarro, PharmD, is a recovering pharmacist and writer-in-residence at Rx-Press.

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