Monday, October 26, 2009

Once Again, It Takes Until Monday Night Before I Can Bear To Recall Friday's Pill Counting Highlights.

We have a floater tech that makes her way to the happy pill room every once in awhile, and by "every once in awhile," I mean twice in almost 4 years. My employer's usual reaction to one of our technicians going on vacation or being out sick would be translated from corporatespeak as roughly, "tough shit." We are expected to muddle through the day short staffed and magically fill the same amount of prescriptions in the same amount of time. And the corporates wonder why I long ago stopped listening to any critiques they may have of my performance. This day though, we had Marissa, which isn't her real name of course, and I was beginning to worry that Marissa might never come back.

Marissa is Latina you see, and talks with a bit of an accent, which the people in the lilly-white environment in which I work these days equate with being stupid. Marrissa spent the first few hours of her shift being talked to as if she were a first grader. Not outright hostility mind you, just the soft bigotry of low expectations.

"So, Marrissa," I said when we got to a quiet moment. "Who exactly did you piss off that they sent you down to this place today?" We instantly bonded. I really am a blast to work with. One of the great things about being me is that I get to work with me all the time.

Except that I'll eat your food. That's the one bad part about working with me. You leave something in the pharmacy and it's in my stomach within 5 minutes of your departure. It's a bad habit, an addiction almost, but to my credit, I am the only person I know of who does this that will admit to it.

There was no time to steal my coworkers food however, as there was a crazy thyroid lady to deal with. An exasperated Marissa kicked her up to me after a good 5 minutes of trying to deal. I started from the beginning. That's usually the bast way to deal with crazy people, as it calms them down sometimes.

"I have a prescription for some Armour Thyroid, and that woman I just spoke with...."

It was clear by the emphasis she put on the word "woman" that what she meant was "stupid Latina woman who talks with an accent"

".....said you don't have any"

"That's right ma'am, there's a manufacturing problem, and our wholesaler isn't always able to supply it, it's been hit-or-miss for awhile now."


"I called the other (insert name of large corpro-pharmacy here) last night and they don't have any either, and no, I don't have a way to check stock of my competitors."


She went on hold. "Marrissa, you have to promise me something, OK? Don't ever do this. Ever."

Marissa nodded, and I then hung up on crazy thyroid lady. I am a total blast to work with.

"Why is the blood pressure machine out of order? Is it because of the flu?" Stupid customer. Everyone knows when the blood pressure machine gets shut down it's because it's HIV positive.

Immediately after this the assistant manager comes in and wants to borrow some tape. I point her to the tape dispenser, and she walks up to the tape dispenser, which I will remind you, is a machine that dispenses tape. Which is what she wants to borrow take. The tape is clearly visible. She then asks:

"This one?"

I went to school 5 years for this.

As I raided the refrigerator in a futile search for leftovers from Marissa's lunch, I noticed an oven thermometer. The last time the state board inspector was in she wrote in her report that we needed to have thermometers in the fridge. I think technically we might be in compliance now. I'll have to check.

I looked up a short time later and saw a man running down the aisle in order to get his place in the prescription pickup line. He accomplished his goal. He totally beat the hunchback little old lady in her walker. "I was here first!!!!!" he announced to Marissa's replacement, and there was no arguing he was right. Chivalry is dead and it's corpse is cold my friends. Maybe it was overrated anyway.

It was at that moment that I realized I was in love with the iPLEDGE lady. For those of you not in the profession I'll let you know the iPLEDGE program is a redundant, pain in the ass set of hoops everyone has to go through to make sure the acne medicine isotretinoin doesn't end up in the hands of a pregnant woman and giver her a baby with a football shaped head. Part of the process involves me calling a phone number to make sure a patient has met the requirements of the program, and the womanly robotic voice that answers is sometimes the most competent interaction I will have in a workday.

The iPLEDGE womanbot is never stupid or rude. In fact, she's amazingly patient when i accidentally hit the wrong button trying to answer her questions. The iPLEDGE womanbot is always cool and collected. I bet she's really smart. And has long hair down to the small of her back that is black as the night of a new moon. She even has an accent. The way she says "pre-SCREAPT-tion" melts my heart. After the machines take over civilization, I want to marry the iPLEDGE womanbot and have her babies. I know none of them would have football heads.

I closed the gate on this workday with a head full of dreams of the iPLEDGE womanbot, and hopes that Marissa would come back the next time we were short a tech. And maybe bring some food.


A'mee said...

Every now and then I feel a little bored and consider going back to retail pharmacy. So I come here and you knock some sense into me. Thank you.

Megan said...

I wish I could leave a voice post on here but I too love the iPledge lady, whom I affectionately call the goat-lady. She bleats. Next time you call in, just think about it. I dissolve into silent giggles almost every time...

To fill a prescrii-ii-ption, press one!"

So I suppose what you hear as an accent, I hear as her inner goat...

midwest woman said...

I am surprised and shocked you couldn't fill that thyroid script. We have a system in place for these problems. It's called pull it out of your ass.

pacalaga said...

I always assume with people like the knight in shining armor that he's "differently abled" in some way (other than empathy). And then I feel happy for him, that he was able to complete a whole sentence all by himself.

Jo said...

Why, oh why, don't you come to Texas and work at Sunnydale with me? We have food! Good food!

Mildly Irritated Pharmacist said...

God damn you are my hero.

I wonder if good days behind the counter, like the one I had today, lull me into a false sense of retail pharmacy security. But then... nope, I'm still going to try and get out to an 8 hour a day hospital job where I would actually have breaks in which I can read this site at work.

pdx said...

Hey!! Do you have any Armour thyroid??? DO YOU HAVE ANY ARMOUR THYROID??? Armour THYROID, do you have any?? When can you get some????

In related news, today a patient asked me on the phone--in complete seriousness, and this is the *second* time it's happened--if prescription refills were free.

Last time, I just made the "hang myself" gesture to the techs as I told the patient NO, the number of refills on the bottle is the number the doctor gives you, and you have to pay for the refill each time you fill the prescription.

This time, I told the patient refills were $1 if you brought your empty vial to Wal-Mart!!!!

Anonymous said...


Sylvia Wrath said...

Your review is posted. I was pretty kind so can I have some Vicodin?

Sarah said...

I've decided I really like you. Just sayin. :)

And I can relate to everything you're talking about. Except the ipledge ladybot. I get annoyed when I have to call her...

Mutha said...

Well, golly gee, what a great blog and I am like Mikey, I hate everything. But I am subscribing to your blog.

Anonymous said...

I am at the end of my if we aren't overworked our tech hours just got cut by 10! That's about 7%....going into the flu season...are they out of their fucking minds? I truly don't understand how they expect employees to provide any customer service let alone good customer service when we are exhausted and feel completely screwed over. I am looking to switch to anywhere that does less than 1000 rxs a week. I am a quitter...I have been beat. God I hate retail and people, not necessarily in that order.
Thank you for your stories to remind me that I am not alone!

Anonymous said...

I am also a retail pharmacy employee and I just wanted to share my favorite phone voice. I cannot remember the insurance company off the top of my head (I think Anthem). So they are asking for the patient's ID number and if you ask for an operator before connectin you to a real person she'll say... "oookayyy, I'll coooonnect youuuu" in a very very sober, sad voice. She is so disappointed to lose you, and it just boosts my self-esteem.

Anonymous said...

I was just thinking today about how much I love the iPledge is literally the only phone interaction that I don't dread..

However, we had a floater pharmacist at my store who dispensed Sotret without calling the iPledge lady (luckily it was for a guy). Somehow, iPledge found out and they had a representative who called the pharmacy who was NOT as nice as the bot. By the way, WTF is the date of "personal significance"?!?! My birthday? The day I lost my virginity? I don't freaking know?? Can anyone out there help me out??

Shalom said...

"Date of personal significance" is whatever you told them when you signed up for the program; they use it in case you forgot your password, like those hint questions (What was your first pet's name, or the like) that some websites give you. The reason you don't know it is probably because you aren't the guy who signed up when they first started iPledge (who no longer works at your store, and for all you know no longer works at your company, or is retired, or dead, and you have to guess what date he pulled out of his ass to put on the form.)

I wasn't the SP, but I was the guy with the most computer smarts, so it was up to me to go to their website and sign up for the program. Since I had no idea what the hell to put down for this date, I decided to use the date of original licensure for the SP of that store, copied from his certificate on the wall. It was as good as any, I suppose, and I did that in each store I signed up to iPledge (I was a floater at the time they were getting started, and signed up multiple stores).

Note that you don't have to deal with goat lady if you have web access in your store; you can go to and enter everything there that you'd do over the phone.

theangrypharmacist said...

As Shalom said, why are you calling the iSTUPID program.

Just go to and it takes you about 30 seconds.

Oh, and dont think about dispensing anything without calling. I forgot once, and got a phone call from the iSTUPID police asking what action I took about the reeducation of iSTUPID policies to the pharmacist that forgot to call it in.

I told her I fired her and she cried a lot, but the rules are the rules. The guy who the rx was for could of ignored the 1000 pictures of NO PREGNANT LADY on the box, taken it, and had a ree-ree baby. The poor iSTUPID rep was speechless. I told her that shit like that doesn't fly here and if she knew any pharmacists that were iSTUPID compliant and needed a job. I think she hung up on me at that point.

Obviously the RMA number prevents such idiot things from happening. Thank god for

Oh, The Thalomid phonebot is also hot sounding, I wonder if the hot robot is sleeping around with other drug companies that like to waste our time.

Anonymous said...

HAHAHAHAHA!! I love iPledge lady! She is the best part of my day! Sometimes I'll try to keep her on the line longer even though I know all the prompts. She soothes me.

Anonymous said...

Has working retail pharmacy ever led to a suicide? Just asking. And why have I thrown 20 years of my life away....