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.

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