Monday, September 14, 2009

Short and sweet today.

Our answering recording goes something like this:

"Welcome to ___ Pharmacy. Please listen to the following Options.
To hear pharmacy hours, press 1.
To refill a prescription, press 2.
If you are calling from a doctor's office, press 3.
If you need to speak to a pharmacy employee, press 4.
To hear this menu again, press 7."

Every single caller to our phone line hears that part of the message, unless they already know their number or just start hitting keys like a toddler creating a tone poem. So why did I answer this following phone call *3* times today?

"My Pharmacy, my town. Technician Becky speaking. How can I help you?"
"What time does the pharmacy close today?"
"Nine o'clock."
"Oh. Do you have those hours listed anywhere? I shouldn't have to call to find this out."

Dear 3 Idiot Callers;
Debrox is available on the top shelf in the cough and cold aisle, above the eye drops. Use it, or stop wasting both my time and my oxygen.

Please, just pull your lip over your head and swallow,
Becky the (PMSing, Pissed off, Stressed out) Techie

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Today a nurse blew my mind.

Normally in my experience, nurses get the same kind of flack (and consequently lose their patience at the same rate) as pharmacy employees. So today, when a patient of ours had a conniption fit because her refills from 5AM today went to the "tomorrow" queue through our voice mail (meaning they'd be ready for Thursday pick up), I wasn't surprised when she said she as a nurse. It's somewhat common for the people having conniption fits at our counter to be nurses, doctors, P.A.s, or otherwise familiar with the back of the desk in a medical situation. One of the rudest, most insulting and cruel patients I've ever waited on claimed to be a psych ward nurse... and of course, was *not* picking up mood stabilizers for herself, more's the pity.

Any way, as upset as she was, this lady got herself back together, and then, she blew my mind. In my attempt to calm her down and get her out from in front of the registers (because I had to run both, having no help out front for the last 90 minutes of my shift), I explained how the voicemail line rolls over at midnight and that we're short handed thanks to a 44 hr. cut by corporate last week (which delayed her "rush" from the usual 10 minutes to 25). She asked for the customer care number, which I gave her, and before the prescriptions were done, she'd called, gotten a human being (a feat in and of itself)...

And took our side in her complaint. "It's not the employees' fault," she said. "Everyone here is always courteous and polite. They need more help. They can't even breathe back there."

I could have cried tears of joy and relief. And I couldn't thank her enough.

That is a patient that I'm sorry to lose, not because I have any kind of twisted sense of loyalty to the people treating me and my coworkers like Amish buggy horses (run them till they can't work any more, then shoot them and buy new ones), but because I would be glad to bend over backwards to see that she doesn't get the short end of the stick again thanks to our understaffing and late deliveries. She deserves pharmacist and tech loyalty, because she knows how to give it. But I won't have that chance again, regardless of how big the gift card is that corporate will send out, because she's been wronged (against our will) by her own oversight and corporate dictation.

Hard to run the kind of "drug store that cares" when we're treated like we work an assembly line.

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Funny one, sort of.

While ringing out a female patient somewhere between ages 18 and 30 the other day, I highlighted a note from the pharmacist on her bag encouraging her to use a "back up method" if she's taking HBC while on Augmentin.

"Don't even worry about it," she said, handing me her keys for the store loyalty card.

"It's just that the way this is absorbed can affect how your birth control works. We want to help you avoid a surprise pregnancy is all," I said, and gave her a total.

I completely missed the rainbow key chain she still had in her hand. I also completely missed that the girl standing beside her talking on the phone was leaning on her shoulder with a hand in her back pocket until they both sort of chuckled and rolled their eyes at each other.

It took me way to long to realize "don't even worry about it" may have meant that she didn't have a partner capable of impregnating her in the first place.

That's how out of it these past weeks have made me. I don't even know a lesbian couple when they snuggle in front of my counter.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


"Girl! Get my medicine!"

"I need this. Get it."

*throw a prescription, insurance card, credit card, or check onto the counter*

*snatch things out of my hand*

After today, and the past two weeks of "shut up and fill" pharmacy hours, I'm finding myself wondering what in the godless motherfuck has happened to courtesy, manners, and the idea that *not* acting like an asshole in public is a good thing. Of the above degradations frequently heaped on retail workers, all 4 have happened to me today alone. I've lost count of how many times this week someone has displayed such stunning examples of tactless, overly-entitled bullshit to me or a coworker... and it's only Wednesday.

Tonight, I would very much like the opportunity to tell people that think they can treat anyone, let alone the people helping them get their drugs, food, clothing, social security checks, or phone/television/Internet service what they deserve to hear. Some examples follow:

"Tell me if my prescription's ready."
"What's your-- "
"I could if you weren't such a self-centered prick. Guess you're out of luck until you calm down and tell me your name, huh?"

"You're going to get my medicine out of the drawer and answer a question before you ring it up."
"Yes, sir. Right away, sir. I'll be right back, sir. Please don't beat me, sir." (Meanwhile I'm wondering if he'd get the point sooner if I said "Master" instead.)

"Get me a pharmacist."
"Is this a patient or a doctor's office?"
"None of your damn business, just get the fucking pharmacist!"
"Okay. Some asshole on line 3 for a pharmacist."
*press hold button*
*hang up the receiver, no hold required*

My sick sense of curiosity wonders what the physician's assistants and front office staff in busy doctor's offices, many of whom spare no patience for us while we're on the phone with them, have to deal with? Is it the same string of mannerless baboons in human clothing, or do they get at least a modicum of respect because it's more obvious that the "nobody" at the reception desk sits between the assholes their doctor?

In pharmacy, I've noticed, few people seem to realize that the techs are the work horses, just like the scrubs-clad staff of the average physician's office. The Pharmacists are in charge; it's their liberty (literally) on the line if we screw up, but patients are often shocked to hear that the girl in the blue smock that they don't like because "I saw a tattoo on her arm in some kind of Heathen language!" is the same person that bills their insurance, counts and labels their pills, and calls to save them a trip when the pharmacy is out of stock on something.

I was raised by people who are almost old enough to be my grandparents. Maybe this skews my perception somehow, but when we went to stores or any other public place when I was a kid, both of my parents said please and thank you. They asked for help rather than demanding service. They took the time to attempt conversation or tell a goofy joke if someone seemed to be having a rough day. I mimicked that behavior and always used what I was taught should be common courtesy toward people in customer service positions. Just because it was their job to help me, I remember my father saying once, shouldn't mean they get treated like hired hands.

I honestly didn't think, until I started working retail, that such behavior was that rare. But, at least it's made me a good customer. I still use please and thank you. I still ask for assistance instead of demanding service. I still try to smile and speak to the person behind that counter because I'm one of the (apparently) few that realizes human beings exist outside of my own little bubble world.

But after days like today... I can think of a whole lot of bubbles I'd like to pop.

Friday, August 14, 2009

"Star" sighting.

Today I waited on a man who spoke and sounded EXACTLY like Morgan Freeman. I almost wrote "Ellis Redding" instead of his real name on his Rx bag.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I don't get it.

Can someone who works in pharmacy, preferably a PiC or manager explain the following to me?

Two of the 5 busiest pharmacies in our chain, both running 3,500+/week are getting even more cut backs. We're down to 380 tech hrs/week and 90 pharmacist hrs/week.

3,500 Rxs... 90 pharmacist hours.

Is my District Manager cranio-rectally inverted, or do I just not know some kind of secret magic spell to stop time without freezing myself in place?

No wonder Mama Bear was such a grump yesterday. We're suffering as it is, and that's *still* not enough.

I'm updating my resume and looking for a new job. Anywhere but here. Anything but this.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

How much is Enough?

Mama Bear, one of my pharmacists, is a veteran of the field. The date on the license on the wall is 1970-something, and she's worked every year of the time since. For patient counseling or dosage questions? Mama Bear is my go-to. Don't know something about an OTC? Let me get her, she's been around since it was introduced. She can probably sing you the original jingle too.

Depending on the day.

See, of all the skills for a pharmacist to *not* have, Mama Bear cannot handle stress. As in at all. Today was no exception; working a 12 in a pharmacy both understaffed and overrun, she was getting pulled in 4 directions at once. I understand that, and I do whatever I can to take the burden off of her on days like this one. But I'm the Tech; she's the Pharmacist--- some things, she has to do. There's no two ways about it, and we're both supposed to understand it.

So I find it... insulting, to say nothing of unnecessary (and honestly, a little childish), when I pull a finished prescription from the refrigerator, take it Mama Bear in her designated "Rx Checker" position, put the bag and box on the counter next to her, and back up a step to wait for her to double check that the name on the box and the bag match (per corporate C.O.As.W.Y.C.G.D* rules), to hear "WHADDAYA WANT?!?!?"

She slams her fist on the counter, throws things, snaps at whatever tech she's next to, blames that tech for every problem in her hands no matter whose name is on it, and just generally takes her bad mood out on the nearest target that's lower than her on the Pharmacy Totem Pole. And never an apology for it. The unprofessional way she treats us just doesn't seem to register when she's in that mood.

The bigger issue, though, is her disregard for the manager/PiC trying to calm her down or rein her in. As a former manager, it seems like Mama Bear's default setting is "I have to do all of this myself, goddamnit. Don't make it any harder on me," and that gets damn hard to work with when she's the only option for Pharmacist-only duties.

I'm generally a pretty patient person, but after personally being yelled at twice today for things that were not my doing or otherwise out of my hands, and watching her hit the other techs with both barrels over stupid things she had to take care of (like the doctor calling in that was left on hold for almost 10 minutes), I'd made up my mind to say something when she did it again. I'm not a fan of workplace confrontation, and I'll be damned if I know what I would have said, but I can only hope it wouldn't have involved turning the air blue in front of a customer, whether Mama Bear had it coming or not.

So, I find myself stuck between a rock and a hard place now. When she comes back on Thursday, she's probably going to be just as grumpy as ever, and as usual, taking it out on the techs. A few of the techs besides me are sick and fucking tired of this crap too, but for whatever reason won't speak up. It's far less confrontational on their parts to talk to HR and have the (non pharmacy manger) talk to Mama Bear for them. But, I don't want to see one of the best pharmacists we have reported to the corporate "Pharmacists" (in name only) for her admittedly lousy behavior.

Think it's too late to teach an old dog a new trick? And how do I bring it up? Take her aside quietly after our shifts are over? Wait until she hits me with both barrels again and fire back (which has worked in the past)? Or should I get management into it, even though Mama Bear brushes her off like a pesky fly and goes right back to growling and snarling at the few things we have to ask her to do?

She's retiring in a couple of years, but in the mean time, she's killing herself and making the job harder for *all* of us, and uncomfortable for the customers who end up standing at a register listening to her bitch while they're waiting to be rung up for the insulin that's in her hand while she's complaining about having to double check it in the first place. I might be low on the Totem Pole here, but without a sold base, the whole damn thing falls down. She's chipping away at the bottom of it, daily, and I don't know how much longer it's going to stand. :(

*Cover Our Asses While You Can Go Die, or the guiding star for any corporation making decisions, rules, and policies. Laissez Faire at it's finest, my friends.