A couple of months back, I was with a friend of mine when she suddenly collapsed and I found myself having to run her to the emergency room. After a fairly harrowing 14 hours, the hospital released her, the doctor writing her a prescription for the still-very-intense pain she was in. So we stopped at her local Kinney Drugs in Vermont.
-snip- (several astonishing mix-ups occur after first forays to the drug store--go and read the entire post)
This time, they had the drugs. My pal handed over her new insurance card. After some 15 minutes, the clerk returned and said the insurer had declined it. There were two cars backed up behind us. My friend said that couldn't be right, the number was valid, could they please run the number again. They did. Same result. There were now four cars behind us. The clerk suggested we drive around the building, join the back of the drive-thru line, and maybe when she'd taken care of the four cars behind things would have quietened down sufficiently for her to call someone and try to find out what the problem was.
Never mind my friend's crippling pain, spare a thought for me: I'd had to spend untold hours being kindly and supportive and sympathetic, which is not a role to which I'm naturally suited, and the strain was beginning to tell. In that useful Americanism, I didn't need this in my life right now. So I enquired of Kinney Drugs whether it would be possible for us just to pay for the prescription — you know, with money — and then bugger off to resume our lives. She went off to see whether that was still possible. Upon her return, I grabbed my wallet and pulled out a credit card.
"That will be eighteen dollars and 79 cents," she said.
Oh. For whatever reason — perhaps the sheer dogged determination required to negotiate this time-consuming transaction to a successful conclusion — I had assumed this would be one of those expensive pills about which one hears so much and I'd be ponying up 500 bucks. Instead, I put away the credit card and fished out a $20 bill.
And then I thought of the opportunity cost not only to me but to the four cars behind. It seemed a very expensive way to buy 18 bucks' worth of pills.