Boynton has really great drug deals

Letting life fall apart isn't going to make you feel better in the long run.

John Hoff

It’s a good thing I’m a teaching assistant and not an instructor, because I have little sympathy for students who try to use aches, pains, illness or even death as an excuse for missing class or assignments.

Broken limb? Feel free to come to class with your cast or crutches. If you need to run out of the room to vomit, don’t feel like you have to open your mouth to say “excuse me.” If you absolutely must take a prescription pain killer and wash it down with warm cola in the middle of a lecture, feel free. This isn’t kindergarten, so don’t feel like you have to share with everybody.

In regard to a death in the family, I certainly understand how it feels. My father died quite suddenly of lung, prostate, liver and pancreatic cancer during my senior year.

Fortunately, I never missed a single day of class or took an incomplete that semester, and graduated magna cum laude. So I know from personal experience that you can pull it together and drive on. Letting life fall apart isn’t going to make you feel better in the long run. The words of a textbook or a lecture delivered by an interesting professor can soothe and distract just like medicine.

Being an army medic taught me a somewhat paradoxical lesson. Though I need to take care of my body and be psychologically healthy, there is also a time to just stow away pain and personal issues in a mental duffel bag, reporting to my post with a smile and a salute. The difference between being a high achiever versus being fairly good is often nothing more than knowing when to rely heavily on Pepto-Bismol.

In the military, most routine forms of pain and sickness will, at best, get you a bottle of pills and a few days or weeks of “light duty.” Sign up too many times for sick call, and you’ll become known as a whiner and a problem soldier, possibly even a “malingerer.” Malingering, which means faking sickness, is an offense punishable under military law.

It’s a shame we don’t have that kind of thing in a campus environment. Undocumented, highly dubious excuses about being sick just to obtain slack with a neglected class assignment should be a punishable form of academic misconduct, just like plagiarism.

Yeah, there’s probably a reason I’m not in charge of deciding this stuff.

I’ve seen soldiers in army basic training desperately treating their own infected injuries to avoid missing a day of training. If you “wash out” of training, you’ll have to repeat it. I hear it’s sort of like getting an incomplete in college, only with lots of push-ups and drill sergeants shouting in your face.

I find the extreme lessons of military life continue to be useful in a comfortable, cushy campus environment. Sometimes you might not feel very good in your tummy-tum-tum but the world won’t come screeching to a halt just for you, Pvt. Precious. Sitting in lecture with one mental cylinder firing is better than being represented by an empty chair.

As a medic, I learned to revere the role of medicine in society, because medicine can help me to, as drill Sgt. Dozier used to relentlessly demand, “Suck it up and drive on.” I regard Tylenol, Tums and cough syrup the way some people regard communion wine and wafers. Because I have nearly religious reverence for medicine, I try to avoid using more than necessary, giving heed to the instructions and dosages.

(I could show you a really cool “field expedient method” for times when you don’t have a measuring cup, but these are tricks it’s better for civilians not to know.)

I certainly do believe in being a helpful and sympathetic TA, despite my hard line on whining and malingering. That’s why I want to turn everybody on to this little secret: Dude, Boynton Health Service has really great drug deals.

I discovered this last year when I was getting over some kind of nasty bronchial crap and needed a cough syrup with Guaifenesin as the active ingredient, duh. A little brown bottle of this stuff costs $5.99 at a local drug store. When I finished off the bottle and needed more, I went into Boynton. The price for the same exact cough syrup was $2.09. I did a double take, like a cartoon character with anime eyes.

On Friday, I informally compared several Boynton prices to those of a store near campus. A few prices were pretty close, though often I was forced to substitute equivalent products. For example, the local store had Good Sense brand stomach relief for $3.31, while Boynton had a comparable product called Goldline brand pink bismuth for $2.79.

A Band-Aid example was the most extreme. At Boynton, 80 assorted for $2.96, versus a mere 30 assorted for $4.19 from the local merchant.

My conclusion: it’s very rare Boynton doesn’t have a better deal, and sometimes the difference is shocking.

Boynton also has a fantastic variety of products. My word, they’ve got vitamins, stuff for athlete’s foot, pregnancy tests, contact lens supplies, even herbs like Echinacea. (Dude, they’ve got herbs.) Boynton has most of the stuff you need to get healthy, stay healthy and keep yourself marching when staying in bed all day starts to seem like a bright idea.

There are, of course, a few times when it’s better to skip class. Yes, when you are infectious and risk giving everybody else the same illness, then you should ask yourself, “What is the best thing for the unit and its mission?”

Or, as I like to put it, “What Would Drill Sgt. Dozier Do?” (WWDSDD?)

Rather than coming to class and making everybody sick (especially your TA), that’s the time when you should make hot cocoa, pull up the warm covers and spend several hours catching up on your assigned readings.

John Hoff welcomes comments at [email protected]