A strong statement: My first boss was a liar and a cheat…and those were his redeeming characteristics. He was also a complete crook. He lived by his opinion that the end justified the means. Sadly I learned this AFTER I had accepted the job, moved 2000 miles and worked for him for a while. He believed that everybody was out to cheat him so his goal was to cheat you out of more that you would cheat him out of. I’ll call him Ahab. His wife was Jezebel, and nearly as evil. They ran a pharmacy and gift shop.
I got a taste of his style shortly after I started the job. I had been told I would make $x per hour. My first paycheck had a wage base that was about $4 less than that. I asked him about that and he said “Oh, that is your CASH money portion. the rest is your BENEFITS”. Funny, nobody else I was ever courted by split my salary like that.
He opened his businesses during the golden age of pharmacy..everybody paid cash. He felt coerced into accepting insurance and was offended when plans reduced his usual and customary. In retrospect, I can appreciate that. When plans started offering “discount” cards (as opposed to real insurance), Ahab refused to accept them. “They have no right stealing money from my back pocket” was his excuse. I guess I cant argue with that either.
He said he gave us all “paid holidays”. I even had it written on a piece of paper that he had given me during our initial negotiations. I later found out what a paid holiday was in HIS world. If a holiday was your day OFF, tough…if you were scheduled to work and the store was closed…then it was paid. One year Christmas, New Years and Easter all fell on a Sunday… We were always closed on Sunday.
Once, I asked for a raise. You’d have thought I had broken into the cash register and helped myself. “Why, you and your husband make more money than 95% of the people in this city?” Never mind the fact that I was probably the lowest paid pharmacist in town also.
I personally watched him bill insurance for brand medication and dispense generic. He would often do it with liquids where it would be impossible to tell the difference. Amoxicillin Susp, Septra, Phenergan w cod, etc. Stuff like that. Long before the days of requiring signatures for pick up, I watched him more than once do an “administrative fill”, his nomenclature for billing a script he never filled. As I said, he was a crook. He would nearly pop a vein if somebody wrote a check that was returned NSF. He would have us call the bank for a “verify funds” on every bad check until the check was covered then he would hand carry the check to the bank.
He was also intimidating. Once somebody had failed to screw the lid on a bottle of a thousand Premarin 0.625mg. The bottom dropped off the bottle when I grabbed the lid, crashing to the floor and hundreds of tablets went flying. He heard it and came thundering down the hall from his office red faced and angry. “WHAT THE HELL…YOU SAVE EVERY ONE OF THOSE!” He would accuse us of giving the store away if we suggested discounting or offering merchandise on sale.
He hated sales. Jezebel ran the gift shop exactly the way Ahab ran the pharmacy. When everybody else would mark Christmas 50% off after the holiday, she would box it up and try to save it for next year. Invariably he would offer for sale tired and dated merchandise by digging up old past years stuff and try to sell it as new.About the only things they would ever put on sale was merchandise nearly unsaleable: shopworn or broken.
We also sold candy. Candy that was out of date was set aside and the rep would give us credit. He would deface the candy then say we (being employees) could help themselves to it. If Ahab was around he would scoop up several of the defaced boxes then mark them “on sale”…completely against the candy-makers policy.
The only person he was generous with was himself. If he wanted cash, the till was his personal ATM. What did I know? As sole proprietor it was ultimately HIS money but what he was really doing was skimming. I kinda doubt he claimed those wads of cash he pocketed to his accountant, who was just as creepy as Ahab. They were really made for each other.
He had his friends tho. His tennis buddies, and his other buddies from the town. Sometimes they would come in and say something like ” Man, He must be realy great to work for…!” WTF Seriously?? He really had them snowed…or he was a Jekyl-Hyde personality.
After nearly 4 years I finally broke free. I was unsure about moving to a corporation. It was a move I had to make however. Ahab’s was in its death throes. My once-held hopes of owning Ahab’s and being a pharmacy owner myself would never materialize. Big Box, Bigger Box, WrongAid, and the like were moving in and buying out every ” Ahab’s” around. You either let them buy you or you let them kill you over time.
What made me write about Ahab today? He came into PC pharmacy a few days ago. He still posseses that intimidating look that gives me a pit in my stomach that is slow to go away.
I don’t miss him. But he no longer signs my paychecks.
And for that…I am grateful.