For several years, I’ve referred to breakfast before breakfast., my daily medications. At 4:15 a.m. last Thursday morning I took the last pills in two bottles. Normally that would not have been a problem, but I was in a motel near the Columbus airport on my way to a weekend in Vermont.

If it had been allergy pills, I would have just bought a family-size box of tissues and found an over-the-counter medicine to substitute. Alas, this was the prescription I could not miss for three days without major repercussions.

The refill was on my nightstand at home. I hadn’t realized how few pills were left in what I had brought. I could have the package overnighted to Vermont if I had to and if the postal service would allow the shipment of “drugs.” That would be expensive though.

I had a few hours to problem solve: flight to Newark, 3-hour layover there before flying to Albany. No one I would or could disturb at this pre-dawn hour.

I set-the alarm on my cell for 9:05 a.m. to remind me it was time to call my pharmacy. I was confident my Kroger pharmacy could call one in Albany and I would be set for the weekend.

Shanna answered the phone and listened to my problem. She could over-ride the once-a-month part of my getting the prescription (because of the full one on my nightstand). All I needed to do was find a Kroger pharmacy in Albany, let Shanna know and I’d be set. Good.

As soon as I got to my long-term seating space at Newark airport I opened my laptop to see if there was Wi-Fi. There was. For $7.95 for a 24-hour period.

Making my Scottish ancestors proud, I chose to call my home library instead (I knew Husband and Son would still be sleeping). Alan answered the phone and was up to my challenge. He could not find a “Kroger’s” pharmacy listed. He tried another tact before reporting there was a division of Kroger in Albany but it appeared to be a jewelry store. Thanks, Alan, for trying.

Another call to Shanna. She looked up in her system and found a name – not Kroger – listed for Albany. She gave me the phone number. I called and was not completely surprised to hear a name followed by “Jewelry.”

I said, “Then I don’t think you’re going to be able to fill my prescription.” I know I caught the phone answerer unaware and went on to explain my dilemma. She responded, “There are no Kroger’s on the East coast.” Thank you.

Call three to Shanna: Her suggestion now was to find any drug store when I got to Albany and have them call the home druggist and I should be all set. “Oh, and don’t forget to make sure they have the $4.00 drug plan.”

Each of my scripts is on a special list so I only pay $4 a prescription. (Which is why I needed two scripts – if I took one pill of the strength the doctor prescribed would have been over $30. Divided into a 10 g and a 20 g, each costs $4.)

“Wow, I hadn’t thought of that! Thanks, you always take care of me.”

A few hours later I arrived in Albany, got the keys to the rental care and directions from the rental agent to shopping in Albany with an arrow drawn on them to show which will get me to the closest shopping area.

I found a national-chain pharmacy – where else? – on a corner. The man behind the counter was all business. I explained my problem. He asked for the name of the pharmacy and wrote “croger” on a pad. Not sure if it mattered, I corrected, “K-r-o-g-e-r.” I continued with Kroger pharmacy’s phone number, my name, address, and date of birth.

 I was baffled when he asked for a phone number to contact me since I planned to wait and read. The man explained that he didn’t know how long it would take, didn’t I have a cell.

 I said, “I’ll go get some lunch, then.” and gave him my cell number.

 Then I remembered, “You do have the $4 prescriptions?”

 “We have $11.95 for a three-month supply.”

 I did quick math. That works.

 Before I left the store I bought a few items including some emery boards and toothpaste (my travel tube also had given up in Columbus) and 2 bottles of diet Coke.

 After lunch, I returned, book in hand to wait at the pharmacy. By seat barely hit the seat when a female clerk smiled and said that I was all set.

 “But you didn’t call me.”

 “I saw you come in and it was just finished.”

 She had me sign for receipt of the drugs and refusal of instruction. As I finished, she announced, “That will be $78.36.”

 “What happened to the $4 prescription?”

 The original clerk interjected, “That’s for a 3-month supply. You have to buy all three months.”

 “Can’t you give me the three months worth, then?” That would still be cheaper than $78.

 “Your prescription was for 30-day supply.”

 “Well, I can’t pay that!”

 At that, the pharmacist came and took the prescription, “Let me see what I can do.”

 A couple of pages in my book later, the pharmacist came back and told me I was set.

 “How much?”

 “Four dollars.”

 I questioned how that happened and heard whispering about “should have been better communication” and didn’t press the issue.

 I expressed my appreciation and mentally logged the pharmacists name for a future laudatory letter to the company headquarters.

 The next morning, I awoke in the idyllic room of the bed and breakfast in Vermont. I took the scripts out of my suitcase then looked for the New York purchase. I panicked after checking any spot of the room that I had things.

 I took a deep breath and tried to rationalize.

 “Bag, bag. They’d bee in the bag with the emery boards and toothpaste and diet coke.”

 “Ah, yes, the Diet Coke.”

 I then recalled that when I brought the drugstore bag into the house, I had stopped in the pantry to put one of the bottles in the apartment-sized refrigerator.

 Julie, the proprietor, was in the kitchen so I took advantage of that to ask if I could get a glass of ice since the pop (soda) had been in the car for hours.

 She not only got me a tall glass with ice she asked if I needed help up the stairs to my room since I would have three things (the glass, the bottle of pop and my cane) to carry in two hands.

 I showed that I could hold the glass and still use two fingers to hold the bottle and make me it, but I thanked her for her consideration and the glass of ice.

 Remembering that, I recognized that I had left the bag with the medicine in the pantry.

 I dressed and proceeded downstairs for breakfast, conscious that I wished I had the toothpaste in the misplaced bag before greeting people. I passed the dining to get to the pantry.

 The bag was not where I left it. The bag was nowhere in the pantry.

 I walked into the kitchen and asked Julie, her husband, Frank and others sitting around the room if they had seen the bag I had left. No one had.

 Julie asked what was in the bag; I enumerated the items. The people in the kitchen questioned each other whether anyone had taken the trash out. Frank replied, “No.”

 Julie sensed my mounting anxiety. She suggested that I eat breakfast. She’d look through the garbage.

Twenty minutes later, calmed by a delicious breakfast and wonderful company at my table, I watched Julie walk into the dining room carrying a small white shopping bag with the rope handles. This was not the plastic bag from the drug store.

She placed the bag at my right on the table and explained that coffee grounds had been dumped into my bag and permeated ev-er-y-thing.

Darling Julie had cleaned up my purchases as well as she could. The toothpaste box was absent as was the cardboard housing for the emery boards. My refills were out of their paper bag and lying in the bottom

She held up the stained, damp pharmacist’s receipt, asking if I wanted it.

I was relieved, thankful and yet, I chuckled.

What some people won’t do to get drugs.