“What do you do?”
For a living, they mean. The question comes up within minutes of meeting someone.
I’ve always had an easy answer: “I’m a pharmacist.”
“Oh,” they say, smiling. They know pharmacists. They nod approvingly and I watch their minds paste my face over the one behind the counter at their local drugstore.
But that’s not me, and I hardly ever leave it alone.
“In a hospital,” I say. “I’ve never worked retail.”
The smile stays on their lips but there’s confusion in their eyes. I watch their minds run video of the only thing they know a pharmacist to do: count, pour, lick and stick. A pharmacist fills an amber vial with 30-days’ worth of pills and attaches a label. They can’t imagine how that translates to patients in a hospital. Besides, wouldn’t the doctors and nurses there do that instead?
Yet they never ask. They veer left: “Oh? Which hospital?”
I give the name and they smile and nod again. They know hospitals.