'I was picking up a pregnancy test from the chemist when the cashier's words shocked me.'

I placed the items down on the counter: some super hero band aids, a pregnancy test and a bag of cotton wool balls. I had carefully positioned the bag of cotton wool balls around the First Response box, so it acted as a wall of privacy and was out of view from the line of other customers behind me.

I was feeling good, I had nearly completed my special shopping trip without seeing anyone I knew and now all I had left to do was to pay for my goods and get to the car. I was nearly there!

Just as the woman who had served me was handing me by bag of items she said, “I hope you get the result you are looking for.”

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She smiled, the woman behind me smiled, I am pretty sure the elderly man with the hearing aid at the end of the line smiled. What had been a discrete visit to a pharmacy to buy something that I wanted to be kept private was now the pharmacy community news.

For context, I live in a regional city where everyone knows everyone else, or at least someone who knows someone you know. It is a place where secrets are a bit harder to keep than other places.

So the purchasing of particular items that you’d prefer to keep private, you know sensitive type products like Rogaine, laxatives, wart removal cream, pregnancy tests and the like can sometimes be like a covert mission that involves a stake out of the area to check for people you may know.

It also entails a well-researched and thought out plan to decide which shop and what time will provide the safest outcome and sometimes some swift manoeuvres to get in and out to guarantee the highest possibility of success. So, you can imagine my disappointment when my well executed plan fell to pieces right at the last hurdle.


I was disappointed, I was shocked, and I was also embarrassed that something I had wished to remain private was now known by several complete strangers. A choice which was taken from me by a pharmacy cashier I had never met.

I hurriedly exited the pharmacy and then nearly… nearly broke into a jog to get to my car as soon as humanly possible (I do not run).

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Shona and her two daughters. Image: Supplied.

After I closed my door and was in my private space, my shock and my embarrassment turned into annoyance about what had just happened.


I thought back to my uni days where I worked in retail. I know that customer service is definitely key but also in particular retail environments (you know like pharmacies) and situations (like purchasing pregnancy tests) so is discretion and common sense. In fact, I would consider these things an essential part of customer service if employed by a chemist.

As I reminisced about the thousands of items I scanned in my Woolworths days I recalled the pregnancy tests. I recalled the condoms and bottles of lubrication being purchased by teenagers who couldn’t look me in the eye and I remember placing these items into bags discreetly and respectfully without any comments apart from the routine “have a great day”, as they put their change back into their wallets.

I did this because I knew that this 16-year-old acne covered teen didn’t want to discuss his contraception. I knew that the woman who had placed her pregnancy test in the centre of her grocery items that provided a screen of discretion around it probably didn’t want to talk about the test. I knew, (even in my youth) that some items such as pregnancy tests are often purchased and then taken under stress and worry because of what the lines will reveal.

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"My shock and my embarrassment quickly turned into annoyance." Image: Supplied.

The reality is this pharmacy cashier does not know me, she does not know my background, my situation and my experiences. Hell, she doesn’t even know that the test is for me. I really don’t want her well wishes on a topic that I had wished to keep private.

Disclaimer: Yes, I know I am now writing about this publicly and yes, I see irony; but time has passed since this event occurred which allows me to now write this without reservation or people I know trying to determine whether there was one line or two.

Has a cashier ever made a comment to you when purchasing a pregnancy test? Tell us about it in the comments section below. 

Shona Hendley is a freelance writer from Victoria. An ex secondary school teacher, Shona has a strong interest in education. She is an animal lover and advocate, with a morbid fascination for true crime and horror movies. Shona is usually busy writing and raising her children: two goats, two cats and two humans. You can follow her on Instagram.

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