I write a blog about pharmacy. So I read a lot of pharmacist’s blogs and from what I read, pharmacists have to deal with a lot of stupid people – customers, managers, doctors, nurses, patients. Not all people in these categories are stupid, of course, but the ones who are seem always to gravitate to the pharmacist. Apparently, pharmacists are whiners. They whine about their jobs, their hours, their customers, their managers. Whine, whine, whine. The Blonde Pharmacist writes, “How many other jobs can you sit on your ass and look at the computer screen all day making sure things are right and make six figures? Not many. Stop whining!!!”
No, I’m not a pharmacist. But I have worked with the public. I’ve always found that outrageous behavior on the part of the public and of my colleagues was normal. Not only that, but the outrageous behavior could be expected to become more outrageous over time. So whine, pharmacists, whine! The absolutely-I-cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die true stories below show you deserve it:
A pharmacist, wearing his white CVS coat, is waiting for the bus outside a Wegman’s pharmacy that is under construction. A customer is staring at sheets of plastic covering the construction area where the pharmacy used to be. Attached to the plastic is a sign stating the pharmacy’s new location. Looking the CVS pharmacist up and down, the customer asks, “What time is the Pharmacy going to open?” The pharmacist’s mouth falls open. He points to the sign. “Yeah?” says the customer. “How am I supposed to get my prescriptions?”
The actor Walter Matthau once said, “I always wanted to be a pharmacist. I liked the way our local pharmacist was always dressed in a nice white coat; he looked very calm. You’d give him money and he’d give you something that you wanted to buy.” Uh-huh. And my mom wore pearls to vacuum the house just like Mrs. Cleaver…..
Speaking of Mrs. Cleaver, calm pharmacy environments and clean white coats are as far gone as my daddy’s 1956 Ford Fairlane: Ring-ring. “It’s a great day at Wright’s Pharmacy! Can I help you?” “Uh – yeah. I – uh…I threw up a little while ago and uhh…well, I threw up my Oxycontin and they’re the ones with the OC on them and uh, I was wondering…is it OK if I take them again?”
Cut to the guy standing next to the pharmacy counter staring at the plastic pill organizers. Pharmacist: “Can I help you, Sir?” Customer: “Yeah. I lost my seven-day pill box this morning.” “OK,” thinks the pharmacist, “I’ll bite. What happened to it, Sir?” “You see,” said the customer, “I filled my box with all my medications for the week. Then I put it in the microwave and set it on high for five minutes. I do not know why I did that.” The pharmacist is sure that she does not know why, either. “After it dinged, I saw that everything had melted together. I tried to suck up the liquid with a straw, but then the straw melted, too. Now I guess I need a new box to hold everything together.”
Digesting that….uh, yeah, a new box to hold your new prescription for Haldol.
Ring-ring. “Thank you for calling Walgreen’s at Main and Pine. This is Jim. May I help you?” “Where are you located?” (OK, no need to get upset – just count to ten.) ”At the intersection of Main and Pine, Ma’am.”
“Are you open?”
A pharmacist is heading down the aisle of the Rite-Aid on his way out for lunch. A customer spots him and grabs his jacket. “Can I get the 12 hour Allegra over the counter?” “Sure,” says the pharmacist. “We have the 12 hour and the 24 hour. Still want to stick to the 12 hour?” “Dunno,” says the customer, looking worriedly up and down the shelves. “What’s the difference?”
Ring-ring. The pharmacist picks up the phone. “How much is 5 grams in a teaspoon?” asks the woman on the line. Now, this is not a question the pharmacist hears very often. Turns out the woman picked up a prescription for metronidazole vaginal gel but accidentally threw away the applicator. She figured a spoon would work just as well. Thing is, she just didn’t know how much 5 grams in a spoon was. The visual on this was not pleasant – a spoon and a hoo-hoo and all, but since this was a compounding pharmacy the pharmacist offered some free applicators at no charge. Nice recovery.
Ring-ring. “Thanks for calling Ocean View Pharmacy. How can I help?”
“What number is this?”
A man comes up to the counter. “I need some Naproxen – 500mg.” “Well,” says, the pharmacist, “Naproxen 500mg is prescription only but we have some over the counter in about half that dose.” The man looks blankly at the pharmacist and turns to go down the pain reliever aisle. “How can 500mg be prescription only if you have this on the shelf?” the man shouts. He holds up a box of Tylenol. The pharmacist gestures the man back to the counter where he explains that Tylenol and Naproxen are not the same thing. “Oh, no,” says the man. “That’s not right. My mother takes Naproxen 500mg and it comes in a bottle just like this and this is what she wants.” “But Sir,” explains the pharmacist, “there is absolutely no Naproxen in this product.” “This is what she wants,” says the man. “This and only this. How much?”
And then there’s the story of the night pharmacist. It’s 3 am. Ring-ring. “Good morning. May I help you?” Caller (sobbing): “I have some medication I got at the pharmacy *sob* and the instructions say to take it with a glass of water *sob*.” Pharmacist: “Yes, Ma’am, that’s right.” Caller: “I’m so worried! *sob* I took the pill but I only had half a glass of water at the time! *sob* Is that OK?” The pharmacist collects himself. “Ma’am, did you swallow the pill completely or is it caught in your throat?” Caller: “*sob* I think it’s in my belly.” Pharmacist: “Then everything is OK, Ma’am – this time.” Caller: *sniffle* “OK, good night.”
Yes, pharmacists – it’s true. You have plenty to whine about. I mean, you can’t make this stuff up! Somebody did make this next story up, though – a little classic pharmacist humor to brighten your day. Egad! You need it!
A lady walked into a drugstore and told the pharmacist that she needed some cyanide right away. The pharmacist, naturally concerned by such a request, asked, “Why in the world do you need cyanide?” The lady explained that she needed it to poison her husband. The pharmacist’s eyes got big and he said, “I can’t give you cyanide to kill your husband! That’s against the law! I’ll lose my license! They’ll throw both of us in jail and our lives will be over! Absolutely not! No cyanide!” The lady reached into her purse and pulled out a picture of her husband in a passionate embrace with the pharmacist’s wife. “Well, now,” said the pharmacist. “You didn’t tell me you had a prescription.”
(PS – Pharmacists and other health professionals: Do you have a story like this? If so, send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to print it!)