Friday, December 5, 2008

A Tiny Pet Peeve

As is the case with most retail pharmacists, I don't get a lunch break. Luckily, I work in a store that is allowed enough pharmacist hours for me to be able to sit down and eat my lunch (usually a sandwich) relatively uninterrupted. I'll still answer customer questions. I'll still pick up the phone if there's no one else around. However for the most part, I get about 10 to 15 minutes of relative peace. Then it's back to the grind again.

I'm not complaining about this at all. I'm used to it and perfectly fine with it by now. However, our full-time technicians do get a 30 minute lunch break (as they rightfully should). It just bothers me a little bit when our lead tech punches out for her lunch and then comes back to the pharmacy for her entire 30 minute break.

When the phone is ringing non-stop and a line is forming at the registers, it's a little annoying to look around for some help and see our lead technician just sitting down in the back balancing her checkbook and text messaging her friends. Sometimes, I just feel like yelling out, "I'm stuck on hold, and everyone else is at the registers. Can you please pick up the phone that has been ringing for the past 2 minutes?" Of course, I can't ask her to do that though because she's not officially at work during this time.

I'm not complaining about technicians getting lunch breaks. They deserve and should definitely get them. However, I just ask that they please find somewhere else to spend those 30 minutes. Go out to your car. Go to the store's breakroom. Just get the hell out of the pharmacy. If I'm working my ass off, and I see someone just sitting around doing nothing, I don't care that you're not officially on the clock. I'm going to be mad.

Maybe it would be different if our pharmacy was a little more spacious. However, because we're so cramped, there's absolutely no way that someone could sit down and do nothing for 30 minutes without being in the way. Our store has a nice break room. It's quiet, and I imagine it would feel much more like a break if you were out of the pharmacy for those 30 minutes.

It may be a tiny thing, but it would make me just a little bit happier.


Anonymous said...

Don't sit there and fume about it, ask them to leave. Tell them that if they are on break they should be in the break room or somewhere else, not in the pharmacy.

You could frame it such that if the labor board should come in and see you back here in your work center while on break we could potentially get in trouble.

I cannot really say much on the fact, my techs always have something to do and enjoy the time out of the pharmacy. Also, I get a half hour break, the phones shut off and I can leave the pharmacy go eat my lunch in peace, read part of my current book etc...

Perhaps the pharmacists in your company should get together and ask for a lunch break...many others get them!

Pharmacy Mike said...

I don't need a lunch break. I get all the time I need now. We usually have at least 2 pharmacists on during th day, which allows me to take 10 to 15 minutes to eat. That's all I desire really.

I won't say anything because it's not a big enough issue to make a big deal out of. It's just a minor annoyance to me... just like 90% of the crap I write on here. I'm just venting.

Frantic Pharmacist said...

I agree with you. If someone's going to sit and eat lunch two steps from a phone, and it's ringing off the hook, they should be able to pick it up; if only to say "someone will be right with you." Otherwise, go somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

You know, its funny to hear this, because when I work (I'm a tech) I always sit in the back. We have a little nook that is almost completely out of earshot and definately out of view from the counter... it's a nice little hole to eat your lunch it without having to deal with the employee break room (in the middle of recieving and the meat department's freezers).

I can see that it would be frustrating sometimes, but then again when I'm on break and the phone is ringing off the hook, I'll answer it and say "Please hold" until someone on the clock can pick it up.

Pharmacy Mike said...

It's a problem in my pharmacy because it's so small. There's no space at all. The only place to eat lunch is to sit in the last aisle of shelves. However, if you sit there, you block the way to the fax machine and all the solutions and suspensions.

There's nowhere to go to be out of the way.

Anonymous said...

This could get to be more than a tiny pet peeve if said tech removes her jacket and spreads her checkbook and newspaper ads all over the front counter while on her break telling incoming customers to 'hold their britches' while the slow pharmacist takes a while to get there, or worse yet answers the phone with unsolicited and improper information, orders hot sandwiches with onions and then leaves the onions in the trash, or fries bacon (or broccoli) in the microwave and leaves the smells to linger, or turns the radio up to country music (so cannot hear the phone), or turns on a fan to chill out the most warmly dressed pharmacist.


Don't let the tech in the back become a tiny pet peeve. Use open and objective discussion. Otherwise, co-workers can practice that psychological ruse (don't recall the name) but involves subtle antagonistic behavior, that on the face doesn't appear too irritating and when the behavior is mentioned as irritating to a 3rd party, is made out to fault the original offended person.

Anonymous said...


I am a technician too, and we are understaffed and don't get our full 30 minutes lunch usually (especially as of late, as our company recently changed the operating system and it is SLOW). So when I clock out for lunch, I usually work through it and take my lunch earlier or later.

Usually my team buys lunch as a group and take turns either eating in the pharmacy or going to the break room for 10-15 minutes. I like to eat in the pharmacy (eating alone in the stinky break room is not my cup of tea) but when the phone rings or if there is a customer at the drive thru, I will get it if everyone else is busy.

One of the techs I work with will sit there for the full 30 minutes, ignoring everything, and although I know she's at lunch it does bother me a LOT that she doesn't help out.

pharmacy chick said...

the tech needs to leave the pharmacy. For starters, it looks bad for customers to see an employee who is balancing her checkbooks/eating/anything-other-than-working. If she is in the pharmacy its fair game to expect her to work. If you have a breakroom, and it appears you do, she needs to break there, or in her car, or on the sidewalk, anyplace but the workspace.
end of story. If she is off the clock, she needs to be out of the work area.

Shalom said...

I once had a tech...

She would insist on every last minute of her lunch break (I think she got an hour, which was an hour more than I got). If she got back ten minutes early, she'd sit her ass down on a stool in the last bay with her arms folded and stare at the wall until it was time to go back on shift. Also left at the pip of 6:00, regardless of what she might have been in the middle of doing. Of course she wasn't quite as punctual when it came to coming to work on time... she got away with that for months, though, because she "lost her swipe card" and had the manager clock her in instead.

She also went out of her way to make my life difficult. I finally got tired of her passive-aggressive BS, and told my district manager that either she left or I would. So he replaced her with her sister, a tech in a nearby branch of the chain, who was having personality conflicts with her pharmacist and couldn't continue there. Funny thing, the sister turned out to be the best tech I've ever had. Such a pleasure to work with her, it was like night and day...

Anonymous said...

hahaha well put

Keith said...

I hate to say it, but you have become "institutionalized". You think that you only need 15 minutes for lunch. Are you a pharmacist? A professional? How many professionals only get 15 minutes for lunch and have to eat on the job? Sorry, it is time that you demanded more! You should get a minimum of 30 minutes for lunch and you should be able to leave the pharmacy too.

Anonymous said...

If an employee times out, they time *out*. Don't be in the lab. Period. It's frustrating to see another person in the lab sitting on their butt...and usually getting in the way because of it, unless you're in a shiny big lab.

It's another thing if you just ask for ten minutes to sit and scarf something down or wander the store briefly to get a drink.

Our front and PIC look the other way when techs request a short, five to ten minute break, sit in the back, walk around the store, or stand out in the back for some air. Our only requirement is remove your lab coat.

You'd be surprised how many DON'T take off their coats, leaving, breaks, anything off the clock. That's my pet peeve and my PIC is going to be hearing about how their and front's "request/reminder" is being ignored.

PharmDood said...

As a tech, I have had an entirely different experience.

I personally HATE my lunch break. It steals 30 minutes from my check and usually we are expected to stay and eat in the pharmacy just in case things get out of hand.

The only social excuse to leave the pharmacy on our lunch break is if we are going to get food for the PIC.