5.03.2012

Last Day

Over the last year and three months, I've avoided talking about the details of my job, mostly because I didn't know how long I would be staying. Now I know. Tomorrow is my last scheduled day {insert mixed feelings}, so I think it's safe enough to share that I've been counting pills as a pharmacy tech at a retail pharmacy.

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Yes, I'm that person in a white coat that gets the brunt of your frustrations when prescriptions (that we haven't even received yet) aren't ready within minutes of you leaving the doctor's office. I'm the middle (wo)man who has nothing whatever to do with the cost of the drugs, but who gets taken to task for the amount that is being charged by the insurance. I'm the verbal punching bag that gets pounded when I have to tell the patient that it's way.too.soon for their refill of "nerve pills", "pain pills", or "sleeping pills".

Despite the fact that a patient has experienced the pain of an insurance deductible at the start of each and every year, they are still convinced (and mad) that I have somehow screwed something up because "it didn't cost that much last month". {sigh} That's because it was December, now it's January, which means it's a new year, and a new deductible. And that medication that the insurance won't cover? Impossible. They (meaning, the customer) have never paid for it before! That's when I pull up the patients profile and inform them that's what they paid last month, and the month before that, and the month before that ... And let's not even get started on the whole idea of the Medicare doughnut hole - something I never fully figured out, which made trying to explain it someone who refuses to listen, one of my least agreeable jobs.

Counting Pills 

I've heard a lot in the last fifteen months. Everything from, "Well, can you fill it now and I'll bring the prescription in later?" to "I've been taking 3 a day because that's what my doctor told me. What do you mean the directions say one a day? Well, that's wrong." to "If I don't get this [insert name of an elective drug here] RIGHT NOW, I could die!" No, you really won't die. I promise. And then there's my favorite - the people who can't possibly wait 15 minutes for their medication, snatch their script back and declare their intent to "go somewheres else" (yes, the extra "s" is intentional) because "it shouldn't take that long to fill a medication". Good luck to you.

One of the highlights of my job is the customers who complain because they have a $3 co-pay. They put on a totally disgusted look, roll their eyes, and snarkily ask, "So, they wouldn't cover that medication at all?" That's when I start doing the inner {happy dance} because I get to say, "Well, let me look up what the CASH PRICE would be...if you were paying CASH for this medication, it would be $276.45, so I think $3 is pretty good, don't you?" {Insert sweet, but totally fake, smile here, push down inner glare and the voice that wants to scream, "YOU'RE WELCOME! MY TAX DOLLARS PAID $273.45 FOR THIS!!"}

The worst possible side of human nature comes out when you stand between people and their drugs. This I have learned, and learned well. I've been cussed at, accused of all kinds of things, hung up on, and generally berated for whatever issues the customer is experiencing. I've smiled through clinched teeth, apologized for things that I had no control over, and tried to remember that as a Christian, I represent God, and as an employee, I represent the company, so sometimes it's just better to keep my mouth shut. I've experienced fights in the drive-thru (between customers), meltdowns at pick-up over the cost of a medication, and anger at drop-off when we refuse to fill an out-of-state prescription.

Yay Pills 

{Sigh} And tomorrow, it's over. Tomorrow I clock out for the last time. It's bitter-sweet. I'm going to miss my sweet and funny co-workers. Never, in my whole life, have I liked a group of women as much as I like these gals. Even though I'll still see them when I go to my pharmacy, it just won't be the same. As unbelieveable as it seems (especially to me), I've actually enjoyed parts of this job, not just the paycheck and my co-workers, but even some of the customer interaction. {Shh...don't tell anyone}

You see, for every nine hateful, troublesome customers, you can get one of the nicest, kindest, most understanding people to ever enter the store. They will understand that life happens, that doctors don't immediately call in prescriptions, that things take time, that it takes more than just "slapping a label on a bottle" to fill a script. They will offer you a smile and a kind word, and when they tell you to have a good day, they mean it. Those people are bright spots in the day, and I will miss them.

{What I've Learned in the Last 466 Days}

In addition to realizing that there are women I can work with, that I like getting a paycheck, and understanding the value of a dollar, I'm leaving my job tomorrow with one life-changing lesson: I will be kinder to all service people. I will not complain when my food takes 10 minutes longer to arrive. I will not gripe when I arrive somewhere to pick up something and it's not ready. I have promised myself that I will remember that things happen, that sometimes the person I want to take out my frustrations on has absolutely no control over the situation and should be treated with kindness. I will keep in mind that you get better service by being nice than you do by acting as if you are the only person on the planet that matters. In short, I will not become like the customers that get talked about when they leave.

{And Here's What I'm Thankful For}

I'm grateful for the opportunity to have worked outside of our home for the last 66 weeks and 4 days (yes, there are calculators to help figure that kind of data out). I'm thankful for the confidence it has given me to put myself out there and try new things. I appreciate the life lessons I've learned, as well as the way that it has helped me discover my own personal strengths and weaknesses. I'll always be thankful for my friend taking a "risk" by hiring an unemployable English major with an empty resume. Because of my time at a retail pharmacy, I now know what kind of jobs I will and won't apply for in the future, and I have a better grasp on what I'm truely good at doing, and what I can do if necessary. I'm even grateful for the additional knowledge that's now stored in my brain regarding medications and insurance, because you just never know when that might come in handy.

So, with my last day ahead of me, I can honestly say that I'm sorry to see it end, I'm thankful for the experience (even the bad days), but I'm looking forward to the future and am excited to see what unfolds!

{The End ... or rather, The Start of Something New...}


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8 comments:

  1. It is amazing what a job can teach us about ourselves, isn't it?

    My very first job was an associate at Eckerd Drug. I would occasionally fill-in at the pharmacy. I quickly moved on to a barista job at a local independent coffee shop and couldn't have been happier.

    Here's to greener pastures!

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  2. Congrats on your last day of work! I hope it is fantastic and that you have some wonderful customers today. Your post made me smile. After working as a nurse for 8 years, I can definitely identify with some of your stories. I think a lot of your delightful customers were patients of mine before they left the hospital to head to the pharmacy :) Working with the public can be such a challenge. I agree that doing it makes you a little more sensitive to how your treat other people when you are a customer! I also agree with what you said about the nice people making it all worth it.

    I can't wait to hear what you are up to next!

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  3. Wonderful post. What an experience! I can only imagine what it must feel like to stand behind that counter when someone is irate. :)

    Where ever life leads you next, I'm sure it will be great!

    As for being kinder to service people, that's something I have to work on lately...I'm usually pretty good. But if something is really horrible, I generally have to say something to someone. Perhaps it's just a matter of finding the right person to fuss at :) Or starting a new fussing blog lol

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  4. Well done, Sis! And I love the white coat! I always think of you when I am picking up prescriptions at the drive-thru and try and be nice to the p. techs! Love you!!!!

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  5. Congratulations on persevering when things were tough and staying long enough to have positive experiences to balance or even outweigh the tough ones. Thanks for the good reminder to all of us not to take out our frustrations on those in customer service, and that our kind words as customers can make a huge difference. :) Blessings on you as you transition to whatever God has for you next!

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  6. Karen

    What a wonderful way with words you have and I love that you quote Jane Austin. I think life teaches us lessons some are very hard for us to take I have been through one myself. Sometimes we don't know the lesson then but we may learn it in the future.

    Congratulations on taking the next step and I am sure that you will be incredible no matter what you do.

    Thank you

    Andrea @RightmoveAddict

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  7. Welcome (and goodbye) to customer service! I always try to be nice to people after four years in a grocery store! I can imagine a pharmacy is proportionately worse.

    I've never heard of doctor's calling prescriptions in... in Canada you just show up at the pharmacy with your prescription!

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  8. Thanks everyone!

    Emily - In the U.S. you have several option. The doctor can give you a script to bring to us (our favorite - unless they screw it up and we have to call and varify something), they can fax or e-scribe scripts (not narcotics, but most other medications), or they can call it in and we can take them over the phone (varifying DEA #'s, etc.).

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There are more than 400,000 words in the English language. My only request of you is this: Use them wisely.

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