THE PERILS OF LOUELLA:|
Sure takes a while to get served, commented the woman in front of her in a lilting Jamaican accent. Used to be they had more help. Guess thats true everywhere. Like at the bank.
Youre right about that, said Louella. Plus look at how were the ones who have to pump the gas these days.
And be our own bank tellers at the ATM, the woman replied.
They both laughed. A white-haired man with hunched shoulders wheezed in agreement, and caught a display case of Rogaine to steady himself. I know I shouldnt laugh, he gasped. But you have to laugh, or else youd cry.
Sobered, Louella looked away, balancing on one foot to relieve the pain in the other. You dont suppose this is some sign of getting old? she wondered. Im only 38! Maybe I should check out the Dr. Scholls stuff.
I wish this line would move faster! said the Jamaican woman. I have to pick my child up from daycare, and if Im late they fine me ten dollars for every five minutes!
Thats awful! said Louella. Can they do that? I mean, it doesnt sound legal!
Oh, its legal all right, said the woman, jaw set. Everythings legal in this country if you write it up right.
They were distracted by an outburst from the woman with the cane. Youre out of your mind! she was saying to the clerk. I cant pay two hundred dollars for that medicine! Look, I have prescription coverage on my health plan! Did it go through?
Oh, it went through all right, soothed the clerk. But your policy doesnt cover this medication because theres another one available thats less expensive.
Yeah, I know. But it gives me stomach cramps. The doctor gave me a sample of this, and it worked a lot better, with no side effects. You mean I cant have this?
Not unless you can pay for it, said the clerk. Im sorry.
Thanks for nothing! said the woman, storming away. The clerk shrugged helplessly. Next?
The Jamaican womans transaction was quick, and then Louella approached the clerk. Im here to pick up a prescription for my mother, Lillian Pryzbylewski. The clerk flipped through an alphabetically organized bin and pulled out a prescription bag.
Thatll be five hundred thirty-two dollars, she said.
What?! exclaimed Louella. That cant be right!
Im sorry, but it is. Does your mother have some kind of supplemental insurance to her Medicare? Something to cover prescriptions?
No, said Louella weakly. I had no idea medicine could cost this much. Its only one months supply! Oh, my God! And she really needs this—! She grappled blindly for her purse. This could ruin us! she thought.
Copyright © 2003 The Baltimore Chronicle and The Sentinel. All rights reserved. We invite your comments, criticisms and suggestions.
Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle and Sentinel content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.
This story was published on May 2, 2001.