He's not the drug dealer you see on Cops hustling on the streets of L.A. He's actually the complete opposite. I sit down with John DiGenova at his home in Beaconsfield near Montreal on a casual Tuesday night. He and I are in his kitchen drinking coffee after a hearty dinner. He is a tall man with a large build; his dark black hair and olive skin are strong indicators to his Italian heritage. We talk about how the pharmacies are doing briefly before the interview and he is in good spirits.
The field of Pharmacy is a lot more complicated than I thought. After talking with John I bypassed the stereotype of the white lab coat behind the counter at Pharmaprix and bringing to light the depth at which the industry goes. His area of pharmacy is a very specialized type, not holding everyday items like cotton-swabs or band-aids, like at one of the pharmacies on St Catherine and Sherbrooke, he works in a more specialized field. His line of work is like the production side of the industry. In his words, "basically we take raw materials and make specialty dosage forms that either are non existent or specifically made to a patients needs." The work that he does is much more personalized and in a completely different branch to what we think pharmacy is with a lot of cancer medications and antibiotics that are administered in hospitals.
While talking with John, it is very clear that he loves what he does and is extremely passionate about it. As I ask him questions, he makes sure to inform me of anything I need to know about his work that I otherwise wouldn't. The atmosphere of the interview is very understanding and informative, with John taking a very serious undertone to his work.
Having known his family for a long time, I have constantly heard about how his work is going, what's going on with everything, and have picked up a few facts about the industry here and there. I worked at one of his two pharmacies during the summer of 2010 and was taken back by how sleek and professional the work area was. Everything was obviously very sterile, but the openness and high tech level of the office was far more than I expected. John's work is his hobby and he cares for it like a child because the two pharmacies that he owns and operates with a partner were born and built from the ground up by him. He has taken much care to make sure that the manner in which he upkeeps his work is in the best interest for the company and clients. Having been over to his home in West Island as many times as I am dating his daughter so I've seen firsthand the amount of time and effort that he puts into his work. Sometimes I will see him leave the house as early as five o'clock in the morning, only to return at nine or ten o'clock at night.
To John, his work isn't a methodical means to create like a chemist, rather an "art form" of sorts where his goal is to find the proper formulation of different mixtures, each providing its own challenge and reward. I see his passion for her work with his choice of words when describing the "privilege" it is to fill an order for a patient. This is a fair statement considering that John went through much schooling to become a pharmacist; particularly one in Quebec where there is a higher requirement than in other provinces.
To become a pharmacist is no easy feat to be achieved by just any student, and to become one in Quebec is even harder. Firstly, your grades must be beyond great as the field of pharmacy falls under the category of health sciences. Secondly, you must make it into the pharmacy program, which is the most difficult task because of the small number of pharmacy schools in the province and the very small number of students accepted. After getting into the hyper-exclusive pharmacy program, the student can say goodbye to any semblance of a social life and say hello to schoolwork. The program is done in French in Quebec, for the reason that the pharmacist must be able to fill orders both in English and in French. John grew up in a small Italian household learning Italian and English, speaking both at home. He did not take on a full comprehension of French until university where it was a not only a requirement, but a necessity. He would record each French lecture and then that night; recopy the notes out again so that he could fully understand it.
John cracks a smile as I ask him about sports enhancing powders knowing that I ask him to inform others but also because I have taken a few of them myself. He responds with the idea that as long as you have the basics and have the proper supervision then you are okay to take them, and its everyone's personal choice whether to take them or not.
My longtime friend and workout partner Tarek has long been taking these workout supplements and when I asked him about what he thinks about these performance enhancing supplements, he said "I'm not 100 percent down to be putting this in my body, but I want results fast and this gives me that so for now I'll take them until I'm happy then I'm going to stop." So its clear that the main reasoning behind taking these performance enhancing supplements is that its all about quick results.
As the interview wraps up I can see the fatigue in Johns face, he must have had a long day at the office. In the end, anyone can witness the motivation and drive that he has to provide for his family and live a fulfilling life, where he loves what he does and will continue to do so for a long time.