My telephone number shares five digits with that of the nearest pharmacy. So it happens that every day I answer several mis-dialed calls in which someone asks me if this or that medicine has arrived. Normally I give the people the correct number to connect with the dispensary, but to others—at seven on a Sunday morning—I only manage to say, “No madam, in this house we don’t sell this medicine.”
If I take my clue from what people are looking for to relieve their suffering, I would have to conclude that depression is on the rise. Ninety percent of the callers want an anti-anxiety drug or tranquilizer, something to help them disconnect from the unpleasant reality. The difficulties with transportation, the dual currency system, the lines and the stress caused by searching for certain products on the black market, could unbalance anyone. Especially if you’ve lived for decades with the sensation of national instability, of uncertainty and frustration.
So I try to understand, and not insult, those who call me at the most incredible hours thinking they are communicating with the pharmacy. I note in their voices this tone of despair that is only relieved when taking some kind of pill that helps you to relax and sleep. They are the same people who the next day will return to work with their eyelids at half mast, still under the effect of the tranquilizer. The pills will help them to accept that the air conditioning is turned off because of the new energy saving measures, that the bus comes an hour later than expected, that the butcher sold them a kilo of chicken weighing ten grams less. The longed for tablets can’t make things work, but at least they serve to make you not care.