Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I realize that I've been a little too specific

From day one, this blog was supposed to be anonymous, so that I can write what I was thinking, and it would be very hard to trace it back to me. I don't mind giving out some of the specifics of my own life and situation, but it worries me a little bit when I start mentioning very specific examples of events that happen in the pharmacy. For example, while there might be a lot of you who know someone like Betty, when I start mentioning specific examples of what she did and how I responded, it narrows it down to our pharmacy's Betty. Even though I've never given any real names and only hinted at my location, it would still be enough for my fellow coworkers to figure it out if they happened to stumble across this blog.

Therefore, from this point forward, I'm going to make an effort not to be so specific when I retell events. I worry that this will have a negative effect on my writing because I find that a lot of the humor, irony, or aggravation of a situation is largely dependent on the specifics.

One of my favorite books is The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien. In that book, he writes a chapter entitled "How To Tell A True War Story." I think this exert, while being incredibly well-written, is poignant to pharmacy blogs:

You can tell a true war story by the questions you ask. Somebody tells a story, let's say, and afterward you ask, "Is it true?" and if the answer matters, you've got your answer.

For example, we've all heard this one. Four guys go down a trail. A grenade sails out. One guy jumps on it and takes the blast and saves his three buddies.

Is it true?

The answer matters.

You'd feel cheated if it never happened. Without the grounding reality, it's just a trite bit of puffery, pure Hollywood, untrue in the way all such stories are untrue. Yet even if it did happen - and maybe it did, anything's possible - even then you know it can't be true, because a true war story does not depend upon that kind of truth. Absolute occurrence is irrelevant. A thing may happen and be a total lie; another thing may not happen and be truer than the truth. For example: Four guys go down a trail. A grenade sails out. One guy jumps on it and takes the blast, but it's a killer grenade and everybody dies anyway. Before they die, though, one of the dead guys says, "The fuck you do that for?" and the jumper says, "Story of my life, man," and the other guy starts to smile but he's dead.

That's a true story that never happened.

I don't mean to compare pharmacy to war. I'm just saying that changing names, genders, and certain events in a story doesn't necessarily take away from the underlying truth of it. For example, instead of leaving me a note asking to figure out how to fill a prescription for a certain vaccine that she horribly misspelled, I could have just as easily said the prescription was left on the voice mail as aripiprazole (which is the drug name for Abilify), and Betty couldn't figure out what that was. It wouldn't have changed the underlying message of the story, which was to convey that Betty got a perfectly valid prescription for a drug we had in stock, but didn't know how to fill it because she was too stupid and/or lazy to look up what it could possibly be.

When it relates to other people, I'm going to start switching things around like that. I'll keep the specifics to stories about my non-professional life... however lacking that may be.


I'm in the process of going back and removing or editing all posts that mention Betty, so you probably won't understand this bulletin if you're a newer reader.

It was still a great way of incorporating a Tim O'Brien quote.


pharmacy chick said...

Wise decision mike, I have no doubt that when I am reading the blogs that 'the stories have been changed to protect the innocent', and yours should too. when I sit and write my blog, I reread my post over and over and ask myself "is this post generic enough to have happened anywhere? or am I revealing enough info that if somebody I know read it, they would be offended?" Those are two pretty important things to consider. If you are gonna rant, make sure its very generic. Nobody I know knows I blog, and I prefer to keep it that way, but then again, I also don't know who might stumble upon it and say "Hey, I know who that is" so I try to be as generic and non-speific as possible yet still make my point.
I'd think you are wise with regards to "betty", its mighty thin ice if you rant about one specific person in a specific setting regarding a specific instance. I can tell by your post you realize that. When I heard that PHarmacyGirl got canned for her posting, it made me very careful about what I say.
**feel free to moderate/edit/remove any or all of this post off** its mainly for your eyes anyway.
Good luck!

Anonymous said...

'Twin Ricks' is classic though. It has inherent humor and at the same time shows how dense 'Betty' can be.