The Pharmacy Chick

Flying the coup in retail

A Pavlovian kind of response..minus the drool

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 8:28 pm on Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A sound elicits a response.  No matter where I am in the house (but especially if I am in the kitchen)  the crinkling of plastic wrap causes my dogs to make a bee-line from where ever THEY are to the base of my feet.  It doesn’t matter what kind of plastic I have, whether it be around a magazine or a bag of chips, my dogs have a pre-built in response that “treat” might be in order.  And so it is THEIR response to this sound.

The Pharmacy is no exception.   Not all responses to sounds are visual.  Everytime a customer drops off a prescription and says “AND how long is THIS going to take?”  I have a certain response.  It is somewhat unpleasant not because of the question, but generally because of the TONE in which it is offered.    It is not unreasonable for a customer to what to know how long the wait is, but the tone in which the question is asked makes all the difference in the world.  My response is internal, an immediate dislike of the request…and if the tone is accusatory, you can bet that my wait time has just increased by 10 minutes.

I had such a request last week.  Some lady with her fancy Coach bag and Cole Han shoes dropped off a prescription an 2:45 pm.  She was doing this for somebody else.  “And how long is this going to take?”  (twenty minutes is our minimum wait time..I dont care if I am filing my nails, twenty minutes is the proper response).  I told her “twenty minutes, tops”, as we  had a few waiters a head of her at that point.

“THAT is not going to work for me, I have to be downtown to pick my child up from school at 3:15.  It was at least a 15 minute trip. If she shut the F-up and let me fill the rx, we could get to work on it, but NOOO, we had to sit and discuss why it takes so long to fill a prescription…and I had to hear HOW important her 315 appointment was.  So I stood there.  There was just me and 1 tech.  She was at the other end at the cash register ringing up sales.

 Mrs CoachyColeHan went on and on. And I stood there.  After she exhausted her diatribe, I (as politely as I could) said in essence “in the amount of time you just spent telling my why it SHOULDN”T take me so long to fill this, I could have been actually doing it and getting you out of here to make your appointment”.  Perhaps a light flickered in her dim bulb brain. She left  me to fill it.  By 3: 05 I had it done, paged her back and sent her on her way.

She might have had it 5 minutes sooner if not for her diatribe at the counter. 

There is that burning feeling inside of me when I get those kinds of statements/questions.  I used to fall over myself trying to be all things to all people and found out that usually I ended up being nothing to everybody but a door mat. I have had to learn what is “enough”

“My dr said he JUST called it in 10 minutes ago.. its not ready??”  burn….

“THAT LONG?”   burn…

“THAT MUCH??”  burn…

“do you price match” after I have already filled it..and presented it to cashier..  burn…

“oh, here is this card my dr gave me to make this cheaper” above..rx done and at register..  burn..

“can YOU”…..  “Will YOU…do what I really should be taking care of myself“…more burn…

I am tired and have a  lower boiling point now than I ever used to in my early days as a pharmacist.  Part of the problem is me, I am older and have used up  my patience-allotment.  Part of is is the changing culture of patients, and what they think is valuable.   Who cares if it is cheap?  that is what I hear when somebody disses my recommendations because it may cost a few bucks more.

Its not very often that anybody ever knows the response that goes on in my body when I hear these things.  While my patience-0-meter is at an all time low, my ability to put on an oscar winning performance to hide it is at an all time high.  And while I still try to do my best for all these people, I have also learned to accept that my best is all I can do and if that isn’t good enough….tough luck.


Comment by thehipcrip

April 21, 2010 @ 10:30 pm

Excellent analogy between your reactions to the idiots you attempt to help and your dogs’ response to the sound of plastic crinkling. Should you ever start to drool, though, it’s probably time for you to retire.

Comment by Dr. Grumpy

April 22, 2010 @ 5:00 am


My threshold for bullshit has decreased over time.

If your best isn’t good enough, the hell with them.

Comment by Sarah

April 22, 2010 @ 8:38 am

Yes, PC, I have that exact burning feeling too over the exact same things you mentioned that happen day after day. I am less than 2 years out of pharmacy school, and my patience meter is already plummeting. I don’t know when people’s expectations changed to cheap (if I have to pay anything I don’t want it) and instantaneous (I SAW the doctor send it from is computer and she told me it would be ready) prescriptions…

Comment by murgatr

April 22, 2010 @ 8:57 am

Most of our patients are seniors, with lots of time & money on their hands, but we get the odd customer that can’t wait 20 minutes for their prescription, but can go grocery shopping and yak on their cell phone for MUCH longer than 20 minutes. I make sure to work EXTRA carefully & slowly on those ones 🙂


Pharm. Tech RDC ’06

Comment by Jaded RPh

April 22, 2010 @ 7:16 pm

This reminds me of my first incidence of the ‘I want it fast’ patient.

I was a freshman in college, just learning the ropes. Was at the drop-off window with another student, nearing the end of her curriculum and has a few years on me behind the counter. A guy drops of a prescription for a relative – some pain meds from an ER. He asks how long it will take (no tone, mind you), and we tell him our standard wait of 15 minutes. He goes, “Please, tell me 3 minutes, tell me 3 minutes.” I respond with we will fill it as soon as we can, and he walks away.

I’m about to start the process, and my coworker takes a step over and puts her hand on the prescription. “Do not type that prescription for 5 minutes.” I partly understood why, as I had an inkling that our time was being respected and needed to be. It may have been the first remembrance, but it has hardly been te last…

Comment by Bones

April 22, 2010 @ 9:03 pm

“My response is internal, an immediate dislike of the request…and if the tone is accusatory, you can bet that my wait time has just increased by 10 minutes.”

I had ‘Attitude’ Lady (with a big, ugly, upper-case and bolded ‘A’) come in and say, “Is this going to take long? I only have three minutes!”

First thought that popped into my head was, “with your attitude, you’ll be lucky to get it in three HOURS, honey.”

Besides, three minutes? WTF?

Comment by The Ole' Apothecary

April 23, 2010 @ 8:36 am

PC, did you just say that you think customers’ attitudes about wait times, and what is important (cf. cheap) are CHANGING?

I was having the above customer conversations, almost verbatim, IN 1978!!!

Comment by CPhT

April 23, 2010 @ 8:05 pm

My customers think it’s cute to respond to my “15-20 minutes” with “make it 5 or 10”. Some even get snottier with their 5 or 10 and that’s when I make sure to accidentally forget to put it into the queue as a waiter! I explain to the bitchiest ones exactly every step that has to happen before a script leaves our pharmacy. My bullshit meter is nearly done and I will only be hitting 5 years in the next month 🙂

Comment by Guzzo

May 5, 2010 @ 6:16 pm

I dropped off a prescription at a local Walgreens for my ex-wife a few months ago, and before I could say “anything”, the tech said to me “When do you want to come back for this”?

I had to chuckle under my breath. Now THAT’S the way to do it! Set the expectations right from the start so there’s no argument. I’m sure that her Patience-0-Meter had probably expired too. 😉
and I like to say “will you be picking this up tomorrow?” putting into their heads that tomorrow is a better time than to wait. For us the minimum wait time is 20 minutes and I dont care if the store is empty and I am reading mags..(which never happens anyway but tis a nice thought) I think its interesting that she asked you when you want to come back…if you had said “5 minutes” you would have been laughed out of the store…

Comment by TJ

May 8, 2010 @ 5:47 am

I worked in the service industry for years and it happens everywhere. Some people made waiting tables a total bear.

I just don’t know how hard it is to plan on waiting 15-20 minutes if you want to wait for a prescription to be filled. If it takes less time, then you’re pleasantly surprised.

I filled one yesterday as a matter of fact. The nice lady took down my information and when she asked if I would be waiting, I said, “Yes, please.” Then I went and sat my big, pregnant butt in one of the provided chairs and closed my eyes to enjoy some quiet time until my medicine was ready. It really wasn’t that hard at all.

But I agree. Working the drunk shift at an all night diner has totally killed my ability to tolerate attacks of the stoopidz.

Comment by raunnie

June 6, 2010 @ 3:34 pm

I am enjoying this blog very much! It is so true how people waste time – I loved the story about the coach ladies diatribe. I worked as a tech for nearly two decades, got burned out, took a couple of years off, and have been trying to decide to go back to the industry but I like cleaning better because of not dealing with snotty impatient people who think you have a magic want to make them covered.

When I was working in pharmacy anyone who banged on the counter got an automatic half an hour wait, the more impatient and rude the person was, the longer the wait time. On the other hand, we had a customer who was consistently nice and never had to wait more than 10 minutes.
thanks for your kind words! I am always amazed at how many people read this blog…just the brain drizzle of an ordinary pharmacist!

Comment by Megan

June 10, 2010 @ 7:47 pm

At least once a day, when a patient responds to our estimate of 15 minutes to wait, I hear, “Well, all you have to do is slap a label on a box/bottle.” To this attitude and lack of respect for my profession, I love responding, “Well, first, you have four other people who were here before you. Second, do you want the correct directions to be on the label? Do you want the label to be slapped on the correct medication. Do you want this billed correctly to your insurance? If so, then it will take 15 minutes.”

I even had one woman come through the drive thru, who had been to our pharmacy many times before, wanting to get the regular Amoxil for her son who was going to the dentist. When I told her our wait time was 30 minutes, she said the usual, “Just put a label on the bottle, etc.” But in addition, she also stated, “I know what all you do, I used to work in a pharmacy, it doesn’t take that long.” Haha, she really did just try to talk back to me. It did not end pretty.

On top of everything, her sons dentist appointment was in 15 minutes. As many of you in the pharmacy field, amoxil is usually taken one hour prior to dental appointment. So, after some more bitching between me and the mother, she tells me, “If my son gets an infection because you couldn’t have my Rx filled in time, I’m going to sue you!”

PS, the Rx was written one week before she dropped it off.

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