“This is Ahmed, our newest pharmacist.”
The owner of the drug store presents the immaculately groomed gentleman in the white coat. I smile and extend a hand over the broad expanse of counter top between us.
“I work in one of the medical practices in town,” I inform him, citing the name.
“Ah yes, I have filled prescriptions which you have written.”
“I’m here to pick up two of my own,” I say. “I called ahead to verify that they were ready.”
Ahmed searches the shelf. “Here they are,” he says, reaching for the white paper bag. “It looks as though your insurance company has applied the cost toward your deductible. You have a deductible, yes?”
I shrug my shoulders. “I don’t know. I just pay what I’m told.”
“We put it through your insurance and this is the final amount.” Ahmed shows me the printout—sticker shock.
He swipes my credit card to complete the transaction and places the charge slip on the counter for me to sign.
“We had to order the antimalarial preparation special,” he says. “Where are you traveling to?”
“Nigeria,” I tell him. “Medical mission.”
“Ah, I am from Africa too—Egypt—but I have never been south of the Sahara.”
“Just this week I have seen two Egyptian families in the office. Both are headed back to Cairo for the summer. There seems to be quite a bit of political dissatisfaction there right now.”
The smile fades from Ahmed’s face. “Yes, we are electing a president. But neither candidate is very popular with the masses, for various reasons. And this latest debacle with the high court—well, that has everyone upset.”
“So I understand.”
“It is a period of transition for us. Such transitions take time. It will be a long time before things settle out,” Ahmed says. “But, I am happy to hear that there are a couple of Egyptian families in your practice.”
“They are good people,” I tell him.
“Good luck on your journey,” he says. “I hope things go well.”
So do I. Transitions take time, and some take more time than others.