Wednesday, August 3, 2011


In spite of all the pissing and moaning we may do on our blogs, I for one never let a day go by without realizing how fortunate I am. Seeing the pictures coming out of the refugee camps in Kenya--- where literally millions are at risk for starvation -- makes me unsettled, scared and heartbroken. I can't help but think about the accident of birth that let me grow up in a land of plenty while others face doom from their first day of life. Why is it them and not me?

In the pharmacy where I fill in some shifts, there are a lot of customers who are African immigrants. We treat them with the same courtesies that everyone else gets. As I've mentioned before, in spite of the lack of English-speaking skills they tend to learn one phrase quickly, which is "How long?" Just yesterday a man approached the counter and protested that he had been waiting 'TWENTY MINUTES!!'

One of our cashiers is also of African origin. He's been in the USA for quite awhile and shakes his head at this sort of thing. He has family back in Africa and related to us what he saw happen when someone in the village gets seriously ill. If that person is really lucky, four people will be available to carry him to the next village to find some medical help. That's the BEST-case scenario.

So, all of a sudden that 20-minute wait doesn't seem so bad. And that's true no matter what country you came from.

Perspective, people.


Grumpy, M.D. said...


The Ole' Apothecary said...

I am onc who goes into a grocery store and looks with gratitude at all the ready-to-eat cornucopia around me. How lucky I am indeed to have been born in the U.S.A---hey, this could have been only a halfway proposition: with a bit less luck, there could be an only abundance of livestock and produce, without the service sector to process and deliver it all!! America could be a land of plenty wherein you'd still have to have good hunting and gathering skills to prosper, but even those are not needed. No spears, arrows, or butchering. Just walk in and shop. Such a miracle!

Anonymous said...

Has your African patient never known the meaning of African Time? Some of the ladies I work with here in good old South Africa have to take an entire day off work to visit the local government clinic...