My father used to tell me a lot of things when I was a kid- one of them was “I want you to work in a pharmacy”.
I was about twelve or thirteen. My father and I were going to the pool, and on the way there we stopped at the CVS in Bon Air so he could pick up his medicine. I wasn’t exactly happy to do so, just craving Granite sunshine, but he made me go inside with him.
“Gary!” The pharmacist and technicians yelped when they saw us walking over and they ran over to talk to us.
“This is my daughter, Claire. She’s going to Saint Gertrude in a couple of years.” Daddy introduced me as I gave him the evil I’m-not-going-to-Saint-Gertrude eyes.
“Saint Gertrude!” The ladies working there screamed, “I went there! I love that school!”
After ten minutes of chit chat with the drug dealers, Daddy and I had left the store and were back on the road when he turned and said “You know, Claire, I want you to be a pharmacist.” I asked why, and he responded, “because the pharmacist at CVS went to Saint Gertrude.” I started yelling at him that I didn’t want to go to Saint Gertrude until we got to the pool, then asked him for a dollar to buy a snow cone.
By eighth grade, I was accompanying Daddy to CVS more often, and knew our pharmacists and technicians by names, and they would greet me with a smile. While Daddy was paying for his medication, the women and I would stand to the side and talk about Saint Gertrude- by then I had changed my mind and was too excited to be going there.
Daddy’s wake was held hours before his funeral service, both were full of people and emotions, so memories of that night are kinda sketchy- but Daddy’s girlfriends from CVS came and hugged myself or my mom, I can’t remember. Either way, it meant the world to me to know that they came.
A couple months later, I went to CVS to get something, and the ladies immediately recognized me and called me over in the same delight they did to my father, and asked about Saint Gertrude.
At the end of my senior year of Saint Gertrude, I was looking for a second summer job, something I could work for a couple months then quit to continue this passion I had of wasting time at Sweet Frog during the school year. With my new-support-local-business binge, I put in a cashier application at Buford Road Pharmacy, across the street from Daddy’s CVS. A month later, I found myself extremely confused in a world of medicine.
It took a couple of months to get used to working in a pharmacy, a job where the description far exceeds “taking out the trash and cutting up strawberries”, but I soon really enjoyed it. I was making friends, not just with coworkers, but customers. I found my own equivalent of my father to the CVS ladies, people who made me jump from the counter just to give them hugs and say hi, people who gave me Christmas cookies, and became my friends. I saw people from my school, my pool, and family friends. I started running into them at the grocery store, Target, Joe’s Inn, and greeted them all with a big smile. Shoot, I even got a date once from work. I had inherited my father’s outgoing personality, which fit hand in hand with the neighborhood feel of Bon Air.
My mom told me this, and I think it’s true- Bon Air is a neighborhood, where everyone knows everyone. From the Einstein’s I used to pop in with the Benedictine alum working to the librarians who know us by name, it’s hard to escape. So while we as a store may not be big fans of Walgreens, CVS, and other big box pharmacies, “CVS across the street” holds a special place to me.