Mita never realised how hard it would be trying to raise a young girl on her own and without a job or hardly any money. She had spent the last of it renting a low status flat in Melbourne. Through the two of them didn’t live in complete luxury, there was enough money to keep the both of them afloat. Just. Nina would be tagged along by her mother in a carrier to the city, where Mita would receive ten dollars, at most, from the general public for a days work. How did she get this money? Through busking. It wasn’t much, but the one thing Mita was good at was singing. Minus the microphone and speakers of course.
It wasn’t before long that the busking failed and the both of them became extremely unhealthy. Nina wasn’t getting the nutrition she needed; therefore becoming underweight and a check up at the doctors was out of the question. If that wasn’t bad enough, it ended up getting to the point where Nina had developed some type of infection. Mita knew she had to do something for her little girl. The problem was she was now completely broke and only had a two dollar coin left in her pocket. How was she meant to buy some much needed medication for her daughter? Mita took one last look at Nina before running out of the apartment in panic. So far she had already broken one law by leaving her sick five month old home alone. Was she now going to commit another crime by stealing if it meant it would save a life?
Person 1: Mita
As I entered the pharmacy I could clearly see that they were busy. Maybe this could work. I waited at the side of the entrance until someone became free to help. After waiting around twenty minutes a pharmacist became available and I began explaining my situation to him. He believed, based on the symptoms I had described, that Nina had whooping cough. He then pointed to the right antibiotics. This was okay everything was going to plan. Then I was suddenly caught off guard. ‘So where is your daughter now? I can’t prescribe anything to you without seeing her first. Oh, and who’s your doctor?’
I wasn’t expecting all these questions, and to have any chance whatsoever of getting myself out of this pickle I had to think of what to say, fast. ‘ … My, my husband is taking care of her.’ Great. Now I just lied. This is not going well. Should I bail before I get myself into more trouble? But … Nina. ‘And it’s my doctor’s day off.’ This was lame. But will he go for it?
‘Look, I understand, but I’m not authorised to give you these drugs without at least a doctor’s prescription.’
Gosh, I thought trying to buy it would be the hard part. I had no idea about this.
‘What if I told you that I think I’m showing symptoms?’
‘I’m sorry but we’d still have the same issue.’
It then got to the point where I began to plead. I had tried everything. The true and the false.
‘Please sir, the truth is, I don’t have a doctor and my daughter would die without the medication, right? She’s only five months!’ I could feel my eyes start to become all watery. ‘Please sir, I’m begging you!’
As I am now collapsed on the floor, I slowly look up and see that he’s thinking about it. He then began to walk behind the counter and started to fill out what looked like a prescription. My face instantly lights up. He’s going through with it.
‘I’ll let you take them if you make sure that you only give the dosage that is written on this form. Oh and if she doesn’t improve within a week or two rush her to a hospital.’
I was practically speechless; this man had just signed a form to save Nina’s life. As the pharmacist grabbed some erythromycin off the shelf, I was too thrilled to be prepared to hear the words that followed. ‘That comes to $60 thank you.’
I felt like screaming. I was so close, yet so far. I began to look through my empty purse and as I did so, the pharmacist began talking to a colleague standing beside him. This was my chance. But I had gained this man’s trust … As discreetly as I could, I placed my two dollar coin on the counter, snatched the medicine, hid it in my coat and ran as fast as I could out of there. The further away I got from the pharmacy, the more nauseous I felt. I couldn’t believe what I had just done.
I was only ten or so meters away from my apartment building when I saw a policewoman start heading my way at a quick pace. The fact that I stole something wasn’t even the worst part. What was I going to say about Nina?
Person 2: Policewoman
My intention was to grab her from behind, push her off her feet and cuff her straight away, but to my surprise she began to head towards me. This is when I began to notice the guilt that was written across her face. Something was a miss. Since when do running offenders willingly give themselves up? This move by the woman made me want to hear her side of the story. Maybe she had a valid reason for doing what she did. Seriously? What on earth was I thinking? Just arrest her for goodness sake!
The next thing I know the offender is holding her arms out in front of her with her wrists together. Well at least she knew what she was up for. ‘No, no, it’s okay, I just want to have a chat with you first.’ We ended up having quite a conversation but by the end of it she was in tears. At least I could now call her by her name, Mita. She had definitely placed herself in a difficult situation. Despite her wrong doing, I actually felt for her. ‘Look I’m sorry about this Mita but I am going to have to arrest you and take you to the station for questioning.’ I was surprised by how well she accepted that fact until she suddenly realized something and became extremely reluctant to get in the car. ‘I’m sorry I can’t do this, Nina!’
I replied back confused. ‘Is that your daughter? I’m sure she’s fine. The owner of the pharmacy said your husband was looking after her.’
Mita’s face displayed great frustration. ‘My husband passed away seven months ago.’ She began to stutter. ‘Nina’s, Nina’s home … alone.’
Did I hear that correctly? A five month old baby has been left unattended for over two hours?
‘I would have brought her with me but she’s really sick, and I don’t have the money to put her into care.’
The evidence presented just kept getting better and better. That’s now two crimes to Mita’s name. How was she meant to pay these fines? I was completely stumped on what to do next so I radioed for backup. While I waited for the others to arrive I came up with a potential solution and presented it to Mita. I explained I had called for a second opinion and a helping hand. My partner arrived ten minutes after the call was dispatched and took Mita to the station. It was now my job to take Nina to the hospital to get checked over and treated.
Once I was in Mita’s flat it was awfully quiet. I couldn’t hear one cry from Nina. This was not a good sign. I soon found her lying on the cold concrete floor, sleeping. Or so I’d hoped. The first thing I did before anything else was check for a pulse. It was faint, but there was one there. I gently picked her up as another one of my colleagues entered the apartment. They weren’t far behind and stayed back to help. They drove to the hospital while I cradled Nina in my arms in the back seat.
My next mission was to return the erythromycin back to its rightful owner.
Person 3: Pharmacist
It was coming close to the end of my shift and the pharmacy was now practically empty. There were only two or so customers roaming around. As today was so busy I hadn’t had a chance to have a lunch break and therefore hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast this morning. The lack of food began to show it’s effects and I felt like I wanted to collapse. Luckily, there was an empty storage container behind me. I tripped it on its head and slowly lowered myself down and sat on it. Hopefully it wasn’t going to give way. I then placed my head in both hands and recalled the event that unfolded today. That woman seemed genuine. How did I allow it to get so out of hand?
‘I believe this belongs to you.’
This women’s voice suddenly caught my attention. Was it the cop handing back the stolen erythromycin? I sprung back on my feet. That it was. The bottle was unopened too. Even better. As my colleague gladly accepted the medication off the officer she looked at me and smiled. ‘Where’d you come from?’
I didn’t answer.
‘Would you mind coming with me to make a statement?’
‘Ah … sure.’ I didn’t want to do this; I just wanted a date with my bed. Fortunately I was able to shut up shop, as it was now closing time.
Does this women realise what the time is? I have now been at the station for over an hour. I might as well in been custody myself. What rubbish! Instead of asking me all these questions like I am the one who has to be interrogated, why don’t you just give me a bloody piece of paper so I can write down what happened, be done with it and go home?
Today of all days we were understaffed and extremely busy. It was quite a challenge having to serve many people at the one time but I dealt with it. What I didn’t deal with well was this one woman that I served who wanted some antibiotics for her young daughter who had what sounded like whooping cough.
Her story was relatively convincing, I had no idea I would end up having to call the cops reporting a shoplifter. I feel extremely cheated. I broke protocol for this woman, and what do I get in return?
I feel angry, like this is all my fault. I should have just told her that what she was asking for wasn’t possible. I felt sorry for her and therefore over stepped a line. Maybe she didn’t have a sick child at all; maybe she was just a con artist wanting the drugs. I’m unsure …
At least the medication was returned, that’s the main thing.
© Jess Patricia 2013