Walter Ego

NOVEMBER 10, 2016
Jay Sochoka, RPh

Halloween is a day in the pharmacy where you get to have a little fun. Those who feel up to it wear costumes to work. As long as it’s tasteful and you can function in it, the overseers will let you get away with it. I’ve found “tasteful” to be a broad-spectrum word over the past 4.5 decades.

This year, one tech was dressed as a cat and another wore boppers on her head, so I didn’t feel alone when I showed up dressed as a … meth cook. That’s right: I went to work, in a pharmacy, dressed as Walter White from Breaking Bad. For 2 years, since the airing of a commercial where Walter was a sorta-pharmacist, I had the plan “cooked” up.

Hooded body suit? Check.

Respirator with pink filters? Got it.

Goatee? I stopped shaving and suffered for 3 weeks with a beard just to have a nice full one. Eating soup was an adventure. It’s amazing what I’ll do for my art.

Shaved head? I wore the hood on the suit. At my age, I’m afraid that if I shave my hair off, it might get mad at me and never grow back.

As I walked up the road, in full regalia, I scored a few smiles from drivers-by. This was going to be a fun day.

Apparently Breaking Bad was not a huge hit in the Covington Township area.

“Are you a surgeon?”

“Are you some sort of insect?”

“What spilled in the pharmacy?”

Not everybody got the joke, even with some explaining. Once I explained who I was, I also emphasized that I had nailed the costume. I took a risk with such a cerebral costume and knew this could happen. Nevertheless, 2 people really got it. One customer coming through the drive-through saw me, cracked up, and gave me a thumbs-up.

“Hey, Jay! What are you cooking back there?” Finally, I got to do my shtick. I quietly palmed a pack of Kit-Kat minis, walked toward him, and looked in the other direction as I slid “the product” to him quietly saying, “Don’t tell anybody where you got this.”

Lucy Van Pelt of Peanuts fame noted that a Halloween costume should reflect the opposite personality of what a person is. That is why I dressed as Walter. While I admire his obsession with quality control and pharmaceutical purity, his job spit in the face of the Controlled Substances Act. You won’t find a more scrutinizing pharmacist than yours truly when it comes to filling a narcotic prescription. The Prescription Monitoring Program, which is a controlled substance script search engine, is my new best friend.

There are the days where I feel like Walter had the better job. Better pay (by about $79.9 million), and he only had to worry about getting killed. Then my ethical code kicks in, and I realize that I’m where I’m supposed to be, doing what I’m supposed to do.

Jay Sochoka, R.Ph., only cooks his dinner.



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