Taking Time Off From Community Pharmacy


While I love community pharmacy, the pressure of being responsible for someone's life 300 or so times a day does get to me after a while, and I need to get away for my sanity's sake.

I know a lot of people who work in high-volume community pharmacy for the paycheck, instead of passion for the job. While I love community pharmacy, the pressure of being responsible for someone’s life 300 or so times a day does get to me after a while, and I need to get away for my sanity’s sake.

About 2 weeks ago, I packed my bags and went to paradise for a few days. Most would say that paradise is about 20 degrees north of the equator, but I say it is about 300 miles southwest of Scranton, Pennsylvania.

For months, my wife and I had planned a weekend of Pittsburgh indulgence, including a Pittsburgh Penguins hockey game AND my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers taking on the nefarious Baltimore Ravens in arguably the fiercest rivalry in the NFL. Food and libations would round out the trip.

When Sheryl and I rounded the bend on I-376 that revealed the bridges and cityscape to us, we were in awe. It’s a view we’ve been shown thousands of times through decades of watching “Stiller” football and, finally, we were there.

We checked into our hotel and, as requested, we were provided a room with a full view of the Three Rivers. Thanks to early booking, we were placed on the top floor, and the Point of Confluence where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers join up to make the Ohio River was 300 yards in front of us. Postcard photos could be taken from that room.

We hit the city hard from the get go. People in my area who have been to the Steel City refer to it as a really big and well-run Scranton. We felt like we were playing in our backyard. The people were great, and you could by a meal with drinks and not have to use body parts as collateral.

Having a Primanti Brothers Pitts-burger, along with a bottle of Iron City, felt like a rite of passage. My wife, who is quite gluten intolerant, got to smell the place free of charge. She totally took one for Team Jay, and it is one of the many reasons why I love her.

Speaking of teams, Sheryl and I are good luck charms for Pittsburgh sports. The Pens trounced the Buffalo Sabers, and the Steelers thrashed those dirty bird Ravens, much to the collective joy of the disciples at Heinz Field. The sound of the roar when a touchdown is made, for example, is done no justice by television. It was like nothing I ever heard—as if the multitudes of Steeler Heaven cried out in simultaneous joy. To top it all off, we got to see “Mean Joe” Greene’s #75 jersey retired.

It was a bucket list weekend, and since it is only an easy 6-hour drive away, it will be repeated. I returned to work mellower than a Prohibition-era small batch bourbon and refreshed enough to work through 2015. My patients deserve nothing less than my best and, thanks to my spiritual retreat, I can give them just that.

Jay Sochoka, RPh, died and went to “Stiller Heaven.”

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