The Pharmacy Chick

Flying the coup in retail

Does one’s income determine worth? Importance?

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 8:32 pm on Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Recently I was walking down the 18th fairway at a golf course. Recently this course had hosted an event in which TV coverage was provided, along with it, all the grandeur of a VENUE: including everything from tents, stands,  electronic scoreboards and porta-potties.  Since this event was over ( as I wouldn’t be playing in any event ON TV, I was watching a large group of men disassembling one of the massive temporary structures they had built only a few weeks ago.  You’ve no doubt seen them if you have ever watched golf on TV.  They can be a simple as rows of seats on scaffolding or as complicated as  a house with rooms, roofs, electricity, and hot/cold water.

If you have ever been privy to seeing these structures go up and down, its rather amazing.  They are all just metal poles, nuts and bolts and plywood…all wrapped in green or white fabric with a hundred million zip ties.

Most of these guys where shouting to each other in Spanish so I imagine they were all hispanic laborers, either hired for the job, or they travel from venue to venue setting these tent cities up and down all over.  The thing that struck me was that I imagine most of them make little more than laborer wages but when you consider what they are building, its pretty important that they do it right.  These scaffolds hold thousands of one time. Take the plastic skin off these structures and they aren’t much underneath but a skeleton of poles. No wonder they cover them up.

My point in describing this to you is that I thought about the work these men do for under 20 bucks an hour likely is going to support the lives of several thousand people and absolutely none of them will give a thought to who built this structure they are standing on.  They assume it will hold them safely and not collapse.  These laborers built a structure thats going to hold CEO’s in a corporate tent, people who make a zillion times more money than they do.  Generally, society puts value on the CEO.    I think we need to put some value on the laborer who spend hours in the sun building something that he is going to stand on and not fall thru 30 feet to the ground.

So I pose the question.  Does our value or worth come from our income?  No, of course not.  IN fact I propose that some of our most important people aren’t the ones who are sitting in a leather chair in a corner office shuffling papers and barking orders,  but the guy who is doing most of the work unnoticed and unrewarded. Put aside the laborers who built the scaffolding for a minute.  Who are you surrounded by that probably goes rather unnoticed that probably you couldn’t do without?

I look at my staff in the pharmacy.  I make good money and I know it.  I earned my wages by obtaining my degree in Pharmacy.  My techs did not.  They don’t make good money, but you know what? they work so unbelievably hard to help my patients that if I could pay them my wages I would.  They put in a supreme effort to make the pharmacy that I manage look “easy”.  Without them I am nothing.  With them I am successful .  We make a team.  Sometimes my customers look down on “just” a tech, but if they realized how much I depended on their efforts, they might look at them differently. 75% of the work in the pharmacy is done by the techs.  There is 1 of me and 3 of them.  They are so valuable to me that I routinely let them know.  I never want them to feel unappreciated or undervalued. Each year I treat them to a bonus that is probably majorly frowned upon by corporate.  I don’t care.  The company never rewards their labors…so I do.

The next time you see a man in a thousand dollar suit, remember the man who sewed it.  Or when you pull out of your driveway , remember the tech who adjusted your brakes,  or when you sit before that plate of food at a restaurant, think about the cook who made it. The next time I watch a golf tournament on TV Ill certainly think about the guys who spent a month or more getting it ready for the guy in the thousand dollar suit… who drives to the course… to sit and eat that plate of food he didn’t make…

Value..and worth…

Happy Birthday to me!

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 8:39 pm on Monday, September 14, 2015

Pharmacy chick recently had a birthday. ( Very recently) A small group of us ladies were commiserating on the tee box about our ages.  We all agreed that our bodies were certainly not the beauty it was at an earlier time but for the most part we were all pretty content with our present conditions.  I shared my opinion ( as the birthday girl) and thought maybe it might be good enough to share with you too. I basically said:

In my teens I was stressed.  I grew up fairly lower middle class so I never had too many nice things.  I wasn’t popular in school and had few friends.  I was trying to find my way in life and was still learning who I was, not an easy task for an unpopular  geeky kid from the midwest. I hated how I looked and felt ugly when I looked in the mirror.

In my twenties, I was stressed because I was  just out of college, I was getting a job, and getting a house ( and a house payment), and a car ( and a car payment). I was accumulating stuff ( and debt) and starting to pay off my school loans which had come due.  I was trying to determine my way career-wise and developing what path I wanted my life to take with my  new husband.  I moved to a new city and had to build a new life and find friends. I wanted to look like a million bucks and would spend some effort to look well. We went out a lot, and wanted to keep up with the Joneses…

In my thirties I was stressed because those years represented unmet expectations.  I wrestled with disappointment with my job as a pharmacist I thought it would be soooo different, I count, pour, lick, stick and argue with insurance companies and patients.  I felt my life was a dead end path of paying bills, going to work,paying bills, going to work, you get the picture.  It was a rather mundane cycle.

My forties represented a turning point.  It was the decade of  attitude adjustment/adjusted expectations. It also represented acceptance of what IS vs what I had planned.   I no longer cared about climbing a corporate ladder. I became content with the fact that the business I entered 20 years ago, didn’t exist anymore and I wasn’t going to change that.  I also had cultivated a whole new life of friends that became my family.  My debt load was decreasing because I learned that the stuff i had was fine and didn’t need to buy more stuff just because my other stuff was old.

Now I am into my fifties…by a few years.. My fifties represent contentment.  Not only do I not care about corporate advancement, but I don’t even care that much about work.  I work hard and dedicated but my life isn’t about pharmacy anymore.  I don’t care what people think of me, I don’t care about my little muffin top.  I don’t care if I have white sox with black pants and  if they are a little wrinkled, thats ok too.   I have an abundance of friends who feel the same way.  They can come over and see my dirty dishes in the sink. I can have them over for dinner and put a put a roll of paper towels out for napkins and they don’t care either. I make no effort to cover my grey hair, and if I put a curling iron on it I am lucky. Workwise,  Im not impressed with corporate initiatives but I do what I can without over stressing myself.  I prefer to fly under the radar, not light the radar up with my performance.  I don’t care about recognition, or awards or achievements anymore.   Keeping up with the Joneses is a distant memory because I still have most of the stuff I had from my thirties and forties.  I own my home. I have some $ in the bank, Im planning for the next big thing: retirement.  There is light at the end of the work tunnel.

yup, Happy birthday to me.  My birthday present was the best ever,  time with my friends on the golf course and the dinner table at home. We had sandwiches and fruit.  It doesn’t get any better than that, and after my earlier week nightmare, It was a real blessing.


Rediscovering my fragility

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 7:31 pm on Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Since I have been doing this for nearly 30 years,  I know that I have become more tired…more sensitive…and less able to adapt than I was at an earlier date.  Its the main reason I cut my hours back a few years ago.  It was either that or complete mental breakdown in the pharmacy.  I smile at that statement because I would normally pride myself on my “togetherness” but the fact is that when a certain mix of things come together it makes the perfect storm and all that togetherness falls apart at the seams.  Today was that day. I discovered how broken and fragile I really am.

You might have thought it would be yesterday.  It was the day after a holiday…and the day after Labor day is usually the worst.  We used to be open on all holidays but the powers that be decided that the cost of being open compared to the measly amount of funds brought in wasn’t worth the time so they are experimenting with closing.  Thats all fine and good…we love a closed holiday, but everyone in retail pharmacy knows that there is a real Hell to pay on the day after.  I was the pharmacist on that “day after”. It became a nearly 15 hour day.  Arriving at before 7 am to find close to 180 scripts in the queue, I nearly lost my breath. but I just plugged away and getting them out of the computer and into a label format.  In the olden days of closed holidays I used to come in for a hour or two and empty the computer.  I didn’t do that this year.  Perhaps I need to think that option thru again.

By days end, we had filled nearly 40o rx. For a store that may do 500 to 700 a day, thats not much but for us, I was the only pharmacist on duty….all…day.  Every new rx, every counsel, every recommendations, every flu shot, every every every…fell on me. I came home exhausted and worked all night in my dreams.  I couldn’t even sleep it off, so when I awoke at 6 am to repeat the day ( you know…wash..rinse..repeat?).. I never felt I had left the store.  Nevertheless, the day had been a relative success.  people seemed happy and we managed to muddle thru…

Today, I had hope…there were only 40 in the queue not 140.  But the glorious spell was soon broken by the steady and unending parade of new scripts ( for some ungodly reason I am now narcotic central) and vaccinations…flu shots, Prevnar and the last minute  ” gotta get the kid vaccinated before school sends him/her home”.  The perfect storm was brewing

1. E scripts that come in at a rate faster than we can pull them out. Think FUNNEL:  you can pour in all you want… but what comes out the bottom is going to be the same no matter what is put on top….

2. Unrealistic expectations:  Impatient customers that come in BEFORE the scripts are ready….all f^&%$ing day.  ON a side note: WAITERS…most of us pharmacists really don’t like you much.  AND especially when you roll your eyes when I tell YOU that its going to be an HOUR.  I can lie and tell you 15 minutes and have you really pissed off when you come back or I can tell you the truth.  YOU PICK> This was the most stressful part of my day.  How many times can I tell people its NOT ready because THEY came in too soon.???  My tech Jesus, is a sweet little Hispanic man but trust me he doesn’t walk on water like his name sake ok? This is the single most frustrating part of the day.  Leave me alone to do my job and quit hassling me about it.  Trust me, I am not sitting here reading magazines and eating.. Im busting my chops to get everything done.

3. Transfers. I had a stack of a dozen transfers pending.

4. my blind tech who can’t find her ass with both hands.   Really, she is nice  but unless it has a light blinking on it, she can’t find a single script on the shelf unless it bites her. it makes me crazy…

5. Flu shots.  Great its Sept 9 and the world thinks that they all need their flu shot TODAY.  Has anybody looked at the weather? its 90 degrees outside. Go have some fun…please.

6 time wasting recommendations:  ” What vitamin do you recommend”.  Did it matter? because whatever I recommended, he/she next asked me “what about THIS one? I have a coupon”. I got that several times today with various recommendations.  Hey whatever makes you happy.

7.  Post holiday chronic callers: You know, I am really sorry too that your doctor took the day off Monday.  So that means that the refill you asked for on friday that needs his approval will certainly not be ready yet. Go ahead and complain TO THE DOCTOR.   I can’t answer your phone call 15 times daily to see if its ready.

and lastly 9.  The clueless insured.  I would have paid good money today to have had a simple prescription leave my hands without having to come back into my hands for some change.  she wants 90 days…he has a coupon…its like sending food back to be re done at a restaurant..its not going to happen in an instant.  I was about ready to strangle my poor tech when for the upteenth time he walked back with something someone wanted changed.

By 5 pm, I was worn and fragile.  I really couldn’t take listening to one person whine about something not ready.  I couldn’t handle telling my tech  LOOK AGAIN on the shelf, its THERE!!  I couldn’t handle  one more WHY question . The pile of unfilled scripts never seemed to get smaller.  I was broken.  At some point, this type of work environment becomes cruel and unusual punishment.  Put a gold fish into a fish bowl,  surround it with pirahanas  and see  how long it lasts.  Thats what today was.  I walked out and gave it over to the flood.  When you have nothing left but frustration and anger,  the tears are about the only thing that dilutes it.

I understand rage.  I understand why pharmacists break.  At some point the rubber band of our work environment becomes so tight that it has no choice but to break.   the company only values what you can give that makes them money.  I can die on site and they won’t matter unless it costs them money.  They want more more more with no contribution on their part. Patients say ” do more for me…”  Corporate says ” do more for me”..

I have no “more”.