Thursday, November 15, 2007

Slice of Life

Slice of Life Index

People of Kroger Stores

I was hired to be a part-time pharmacist at Goshen Kroger Food and Drugs. Because I chose NOT to work full time, when Goshen Kroger near my home hired a full-time pharmacist, I became a floating pharmacist. I go to different stores as they have need. The long drive is arduous, but Kroger pays gas and time.

Typically, I don’t work with other pharmacists. We rarely overlap. I work mostly with technicians who are an integral part of the pharmacy.

When I go to Kroger pharmacy in Wabash, Indiana, Dave is there—a retired part-time pharmacist who loves to work there. He once had his own pharmacy, and oh, how he loved it! He had a fountain bar, oak cabinetry, and all of the old beauty that was the “pharmacy” of the bygone era.

He moved from the Chicago area to a small town south of South Bend, Indiana. He bought a failing drugstore and gave it a face lift. His wife ran the store, and he was the pharmacist. Soon his pharmacy came alive. His amiable and caring personality did much to rejuvenate the dying business. Those sixteen years were bliss—he loved it. His store was the center of town happenings. Dave and his wife were closely involved in town affairs…until politics made the work harder with no matching financial gain, so he sold his pharmacy to CVS. I asked, “What did they do with the beautiful addition and fountain bar?” “They got rid of it all,” he replied.

Prior to owning a drugstore, Dave worked on an Indian reservation as a clinical pharmacist. "It was like M*A*S*H, the TV program. It was just like it,” he said. “It was so much fun.”

“Why did you move?” I inquired. He said, “We wanted to have children. White children are not accepted among the Indian children.”


In Goshen Kroger, I work with three technicians. Brandie is a hard worker. She holds the pharmacy together with the help of Penny and Laura. Brandie told me her story. When she was nine years old, she was coming home from a birthday party. The whole family was in the car—her dad, mom, and the three children. They were hit by a drunk driver. Her dad was killed instantly. Her mom and the two older brothers were in the hospital for months. Her mom was fired from her job because she became an invalid. She worked for a health insurance company, and they did not have wheelchair access. Brandie came out okay—or so she thought.

Now, at age twenty-eight she has many unexplained pains that can immobilize her for hours or days at a time. In October of 2007, her husband of one year was killed in a car accident outside of Goshen. Yet she is a strong and wonderful person to be around. I pray that her future will be richly blessed.


In La Porte Kroger, I work with Crystal, a bright young girl with strikingly clear blue eyes and very blond hair. She tells me that she will get married today (11/15/07) at the local courthouse. Ricky, her fiancée, is German. She will go to Germany to re-marry her husband there the same way. In the spring, they will have a formal traditional wedding with all the fanfare.

Crystal wanted her grandfather’s approval before marrying. He is in his mid-eighties. When he was nine years old in Russia, German soldiers came into his town. The Germans killed his whole family but spared him. He had beautiful blue eyes and very blond hair; the rest of the family did not. The Germans took him into the army. He was the boy who would patch their pants and run any errands for the soldiers. Crystal said no one in her large family knows anything about his childhood. As a teenager, when the war was ending, he was asked by the American soldiers if he wanted to join the US army. He said, “Yes.” He was an orphan with no place to go. After the war, he came to the US, met a nice American girl, and settled down in Michigan City, Indiana.

Crystal says her whole family is very close and live within blocks…all of them. It was very important that her grandfather accept her husband-to-be. With much anxiety and hope, she explained the situation to Ricky. She arranged a meeting between them. When the two were brought together, Ricky began by speaking to him in Russian, her grandfather’s mother tongue. Her grandfather responded to Ricky in German. Her grandfather came out of the room with his arm around Ricky’s shoulder. Crystal knew that Ricky had received Grandfather’s approval.


Joshua is a young college student who works in the La Port Kroger store. He is taking pre-pharmacy courses. He would like to be a pharmacist one day. He knows that he will have to put himself through school. His mother and father just got divorced and finances are very limited.

“It must be very difficult for you.” I commented.

“Not really. I am very busy. I am glad that mom is happy now. She found a boyfriend who makes her happy. I don’t see her much,” he said.

He asked me what I like to do. I told him that I started to write and found myself loving it. Joshua loves to sing. He brought me a CD to hear him as the baritone in a choir. He also sings in a barbershop quartet.

He has very definite ideas about the rampant illegitimate child births in the US. After some conversation I said, “Maybe the political route is your calling.” “Maybe,” he said.

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