Monday, December 21, 2009

Blank Expressions for the Holidays

There are few things that irritate me more than the blank expression of a customer who simply does not understand what you're telling them or looks completely unable to do anything for himself.

Today, we had some woman come to the counter. She was out of her Xanax. We contacted the doctor for refills the day before, but we still didn't get a response. We told her this, and her response was to stare blankly at us without saying a single word. She just stared. She wouldn't move from the counter. Didn't ask what she could do to help. Didn't complain about her doctor's office. She just stared.

I felt like saying to her, "What the fuck do you want us to do?" I bet that would have gotten some response. Or maybe not. Who knows?

I'm a little more sympathetic to the dumb stare when it comes from an elderly person. However, all I can think about when seeing it is if I get that way when I'm old, I want someone to just shoot me.

I'm dead serious. I do not want to be a forgetful, half-retarded old man. I've spent my whole life up to this point having a fairly sharp mind. I can't imagine not being able to grasp simple concepts. I don't want to live a life in which I can't do things for myself. If and when the day comes when my mind deteriorates to that point, I want someone to just put me out of my misery... because I will certainly be miserable at that point.

I look at these people and think that at one time in their lives, they must have been more like me. They must have been young, energetic, and quick-witted. That realization scares me because it just seems inevitable that we all end up that way. That's why I'm doing everything I can now to keep myself healthy and active. If it's in my fate to be just like every other elderly person, then I'm going to fight fate with everything I have.

I simply refuse to be that way.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Day Late on the Update but Definitely Worth the Wait

I feel like a teenager when I talk about this stuff, but considering how low I've been the last few years, this is great to write about.

Where to start???

OK... First date. I met her at her place, and we ended up going out for dinner. She likes to eat out just as much as I do. A BIG plus! We had a pleasant dinner, and then stopped at a bar for drinks afterwards. We were out until almost 2 in the morning before returning to her apartment. She made hot chocolate for us, and we just kind of talked and joked around until 3 AM. I had to go home at that point. It was an hour drive back to my place, and I had to be at work at 8 in the morning. I left, but I couldn't get up the nerve to try to kiss her goodnight.

Sounds familiar, right?

I woke up after only 3 hours of sleep and somehow made it to work the next day. A couple hours in, she texted me asking how I was doing and if the drive home was ok the night before. That set us off basically text messaging back and forth all day again, which led to another LONG conversation online at night.

At the end of the conversation, we talked about possibly getting together again the next day (Sunday) to go out to a restaurant we had talked about during our first date. However, she said she wasn't sure if she'd be able to fit it into her schedule.

That planted the seeds of doubt in my head... again.

Maybe she didn't really like me that way. Maybe she only wanted to be friends. What happens if I tell her how I feel, and she doesn't feel the same way? Since she's friends with some of my friends, wouldn't that be awkward?

Thoughts raced around my head all day as I waited to hear whether she was going to meet me tonight or not. Finally, she texted me around 2 asking if I still wanted to go, and of course, I did. It seemed like a casual invitation though. I was actually starting to worry that she might decide to bring a friend with her or something.

After work, I had a mini freak out. I realized it was pretty much now or never. We couldn't keep going on the way we were. We had been staying up until the wee hours of the morning talking for like a week straight. I've never been so short on sleep in my life, and it must have been the same way for her. Either we were going to go somewhere, or it was just going to go away entirely.

So, I did what only Pharmacy Mike would do... I analyzed the shit out of the whole situation. My problem: I wasn't sure if she liked me or not. After putting all the facts together and thinking of things from her perspective, I came to the conclusion that she had to like me. She stayed up until 3 in the morning talking to me one night when she had to work the next day. We had a 3.5 hour phone conversation. Not only did we have our "coffee" date Friday, but she actually canceled what she had planned in order to make more time for me that night. Then, instead of coffee, it ended up being dinner, and instead of just saying goodbye to me when I got to my car, she invited me into her apartment. Even the whole date tonight required her to completely rearrange her schedule and go way out of her way to make time for me.

It became obvious that no sane person would do those things for "just a friend." I thought about how I approach my friends, and how I would never go that far out of my way just to hang out or talk to them. No one would. She had to like me.

In addition, what business did she have not liking me? I'm not the most confident person in the world, but I look at a lot of other guys with girlfriends and think that I'm a better catch than they are. I'm not bad looking. I'm lean and athletic. I'm smart. I have a job that pays me a 6-figure salary. I'm honest and sweet... and nice. Seriously, I'm like nice to the point of sickening sometimes. If she didn't think I was worthy to date, who the hell was she waiting for?

In any case... After all that thinking, I decided I would just go out, enjoy dinner with her, and then just tell her exactly how I felt afterwards as I was saying goodbye to her. And that's exactly what I did. It wasn't the smoothest delivery in the world. I kind of stopped and started and mumbled my way through it, but I got it out. Then I kissed her, and with that huge weight lifted from my shoulders, I was able to talk to her about how that was probably the most nerve-wracking thing I've ever done in my life.

I'm seeing her again Saturday. Now, I can truly relax knowing she's in the same place I am.

Wow... that was a long time coming, huh? I feel like this is the culmination of everything I've been through over the past 3 years. Things can still go wrong from here. There's one more hurdle to jump over before I'm 100% in the clear. Right now though, I'm just happy... and relieved.... and proud of myself.

Thanks to all my readers for the advice.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Here's How It All Went

As I said, I got the date. I actually asked her out via text message. I didn't want to do it that way. It wasn't the plan, but it was the only opportunity, so I just went with the flow. I kind of smoothed it in there. We were joking about how I kept her up late talking the last few nights, and how coffee was the only thing keeping her awake at work. She joked that I owe her a cup of coffee, so when I texted her, I basically said let's go get that cup of coffee I owe you. She agreed.

I called her on the phone tonight to kind of figure out the details. We ended up talking for 3 and a half hours. We're going to meet up and go out around where she lives.

This is where I'll mention the one hiccup in this whole thing. She lives over an hour away from me. We both grew up in the same town, but she took a job an hour away. Last month, she moved to an apartment 5 minutes from her work.

She spends enough time back in our hometown where I'm sure the distance won't be that big of a problem. It might get a little annoying driving over an hour each way to see each other. I'm getting WAY ahead of myself here though. I still have to see how the night goes.

By the way... I have to work Saturday morning. I'm driving over an hour to meet up with her at 9:30 at night. I'm assuming that I'll be out to at least 1:00 AM. Then, I won't make it back here until after 2 in the morning, so that I can get up to get ready for work less than 5 hours later. It's going to be a tiring night. I might actually have to start drinking coffee to date this girl.

She must like me, right? All the late night chats, the 3.5 hour phone call tonight, agreeing to go out with me... She must be interested, right?

No matter how things end up turning out, I have to be at least a little happy with myself. I mean, these are big steps. It's probably your average Friday night for a lot of guys, but this is the first date I've been on in almost 2 years. In this situation, I actually took the initiative more than I ever had in the past. I met her in person. I reached out to talk to her after meeting her. After taking a little while to get to know her, I asked her out. I'd say I'm progressing in leaps and bounds compared to where I was just a year ago.

Last December, I wrote a year in review post in which I mentioned that I'd probably look back at 2008 as a major turning point in my life. I also wrote that I wasn't even sure if I was a relationship person at all. How things have changed... If 2008 was the turning point, 2009 was me taking off running after the turn.

Wish me good luck tomorrow night. You can expect an update Saturday night. LOL... My blog has a purpose again.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Update to Follow

It's early, and I have to get to work soon, so I don't have much time. I just wanted to update everyone. I got a tentative coffee date for this Friday. I say tentative because it won't necessarily be coffee. It just kind of fit into the conversation. However, I have a day and a time if not necessarily a particular activity. I'll clarify later.

Thanks to everyone who chimed in with advice. It seems weird to be getting dating advice from strangers on the internet. However, I think a lot of people get all kinds of advice before asking someone out. They just get it from their friends. Since I'm a little shy, and my friends aren't great for doling out dating advice, my blog seems to be a better place for me. Quite honestly, anyone who reads my blog regularly knows more about how my mind works than any of my friends. Ok... That might be a little sad.

By the way... I like how everyone kept saying, "My husband/boyfriend is a nerdy internet guy..." It's funny because I guess I am nerdy in many ways. On the other hand, I did score 20 points in my basketball game this week. I'd like to know how many pharmacy nerds can do that! haha

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I Need Advice

I mentioned a couple posts ago that I have been talking to a really nice girl. I've now hung out with her on 3 separate occasions. They weren't dates. The last couple of times, she invited me to go out with her and a friend. We had fun both times.

I really like this girl... a lot. We talk often online. The last couple of nights we were up past 1:00 AM talking. I get along with her really well. She's a sweet girl, and we share a lot of interests.

Basically, I want to know what should be my next move? I'm starting to feel like if we keep talking like this without anything more coming out of it, she might get either annoyed or disinterested. I don't want that to happen. I want to ask her out on an actual date. I've been trying to work up the courage for the past 3 weeks. I just don't know how to do it. I don't want to come on too strongly, but at the same time, I know that I have to at least make some kind of move.

I'm not smooth. I'm not the most charming guy in the world. I don't know how to be all cool about things like this. However, I am good at being honest. I was thinking that the next time I talk to her, I should just lay it out there and see what happens. Something like this...

"I'm not smooth, so I don't really know a better way of asking. I just think you're a really nice girl, and I like talking to you a lot. I was hoping we could go out some time for dinner and maybe some drinks."

Something along those lines... It sounded better in my head than it came out on the screen. Some people have told me the best thing is to casually ask her if she'd like to join me going to something I was already supposed to be going to. For example, if I was planning on getting drinks on Saturday, ask if she wanted to come along. That's a good idea, except I don't have stuff like that going on unless someone asks me first. If I haven't hammered this home already, I don't have the most eventful life.

I'm not good at dealing with all this signal reading. I just think it always works best for me to be open and honest. Let her know that I like her. Let her know I'd like to go on a date with her. Just be sincere and honest.

So, I think that's going to be my game plan. The next question is when should I do it? I've spent several hours talking to her online the last couple of days. The day before that, we spent the day text messaging each other back and forth. We've never really talked on the phone, so it feels a little weird just calling her out of the blue to ask her.

Should I though? Would it be best to call her? Should I wait a couple days to give her a little space? We've done a lot of talking recently. I don't want to become annoying. Should I just wait until the next time I get a chance to talk to her online, or would it be better to act quickly?

I want opinions here... preferably female opinions. I'm at the point right now where I'll actually listen to advice from random strangers over the internet. I swear, if a number of people comment telling me to call her now, I'll call her within the next 5 minutes. I don't want to screw this up. I don't want this to be like all those other times when I do nothing and let the girl get away. I like this girl too much.

Advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Electronic Prescriptions: Now We Can Clearly Read All the Errors

I might be the only pharmacist in the world saying this, but I don't care. I'm so sick of electronic scripts. I swear I spend more time calling doctors' offices clarifying electronic scripts than I ever did for written ones.

The problem with electronic scripts is that you actually have to know how to use the program in order to send them accurately. Now, I have no idea what the software interface looks like. I just know how they show up on my computer, and often, there's some sort of problem with them.

The most common problem is whoever is inputting the script (medical assistants, RNs, and seemingly rarely the physician) keeps selecting the wrong drug. I can only assume that the interface is similar to our pharmacy computers where you type in at least part of the name of the drug and then choose the correct one from a long list of options. The problem is that while pharmacy employees work with these drugs every single day and are well aware how they're named and supplied, doctors' representatives seem to not really know which is the correct drug to choose.

Here's an example...

Drug: Tussirex
Sig: Take 1 teaspoonful q 12h prn
quant: 4 ounces

I don't even know what Tussirex is. Upon looking it up in the PDR, it apparently existed at one time as some sort of cough medicine. I've never seen it, and I'm pretty sure it doesn't exist anymore. Of course, any pharmacist knows that it was supposed to be for Tussionex. However, I can't just assume that. I've seen physicians write for products that are no longer available plenty of times before. Therefore, and especially since Tussionex is a controlled substance, I had to call the office to verify it. As you could have guessed, by the time we got the script, the office was closed and was no longer accepting phone calls. When we finally contacted the office a day later, the nurse confirmed what I already knew; She had selected the wrong drug.

Problems like that are amazingly common. Wellbutrin is another one that drives me crazy. Whenever I see an electronic script for Wellbutrin, there's probably about a 50% chance it was inputted incorrectly. There are 3 different formulations of Wellbutrin. There's just plain old Wellbutrin, the 12 hour Wellbutrin SR, and the once daily Wellbutrin XL. It's not at all uncommon to see scripts that read just like this...

Drug: Wellbutrin SR 12 Hour 150 mg
Sig: Take 1 tablet once daily.
quant: 30

This drives me insane because there are so many things that could be wrong with that script that even after calling the office, it usually takes forever for me to get it resolved. Was it supposed to be for Wellbutrin SR? If so, are they really only taking it once a day? Shouldn't it be twice daily with a quantity of 60? Or did the doctor really mean Wellbutrin XL, and someone just selected the wrong Wellbutrin? AHHHHHH!!!!

Then there's the ones that come across with completely messed up directions...

Drug: Klonopin 0.5 mg
Sig: Take 1 po qd po 1 po HS (30 days)
Quant: 60

That's exactly how the script came across. My first thought was that the doctor meant for the patient to take it twice daily. That seemed to make sense. The quantity was for 60, and it said 30 days in the directions. It looked pretty obvious to me, but once again, it was a controlled substance, so I just wanted to double check. Of course, I couldn't get anyone at the office right away, so I had to leave a message. Five hours later the doctor called back to say that it was only supposed to be 1 tablet at bedtime, and he had no idea why the script got messed up like that.

A lot of pharmacists probably would have filled that as twice daily, and it would have been an error (albeit not really the pharmacist's fault) because it wasn't what the doctor intended. That leads me to wonder just how many scripts are filled incorrectly due to someone in the office choosing the wrong drug or inputting the wrong directions? I'm guessing more than a few.

I think that electronic scripts were aimed at solving one prescribing problem: Bad handwriting. However in doing so, they opened up the potential to make plenty of other mistakes. In reality, bad handwriting was never the biggest source of prescription errors. The biggest problem causing incorrectly written (or filled) prescriptions is not double checking them before they go out the door. Prescribers (or whoever is actually writing the scripts, which I know often times is just the medical assistant, and the doctor just scribbles his signature on it) just quickly write out a script without ever giving it a second look. Therefore, careless mistakes are made. Usually the handwriting is at least good enough for pharmacists to figure out. I really don't call offices that much to clarify poor handwriting. Most of my calls for clarification involve the actual content of the prescription. Wrong drug, wrong dosage, wrong directions, wrong or missing quantity, etc. Without making double checking mandatory, these errors will continue to happen whether the scripts be hand written or electronically sent.

What I don't understand is why there's no emphasis on double checking the script before it ever leaves the office. Pharmacists double and triple check every single prescription before it leaves the pharmacy. If I'm the only person working, I will type the script myself. Then once the label prints, I will check what I typed against the hard copy. Then, I will grab the drug from the shelf and check the NDC on the bottle vs. the NDC on the label. Then I'll count it out. If it's a control, I'll double count it. Then, I'll check the name on the bottle vs. the name on the pharmacy receipt that gets stapled to the bag. Finally, I'll verify the patient's address before giving the prescription to them.

Notice that there's a half dozen checks in there for each script I fill. However, prescribers don't seem to even do a single double check. I know decreasing insurance reimbursements have them strapped for time while trying to fit as many patients in as possible. However, I can't imagine that it would take more than 5 seconds to check a prescription one just wrote for accuracy.

There's no excuse for the number of mistakes I see. Absolutely none at all, and since electronic scripts, at least from my observations, aren't doing anything to cut down on these mistakes, what's the point?

Monday, November 23, 2009

What's this??? I'm Actually Happy.

I guess it was a gradual (some would say it was at a glacial pace) process, but the realization hit me suddenly within the last couple of weeks. "Holy crap! I'm not miserable anymore. I'm actually happy." Not only am I happy, but I'm optimistic. I'm actually looking at the positive side of things instead of constantly dwelling on the negative.

It wasn't a magical transformation. It took a lot of hard work on my part. I didn't set out with happiness in mind. I wanted to take things one step at a time and see where I ended up. The first thing on my agenda was getting healthy and physically fit. I cleaned up my diet. I greatly cut back on most processed foods and anything with added sugar. Then, as I've stated several times in this blog, I started an exercise routine, and I've been pretty consistent. It's been almost 3 months since I started, and I feel more fit than I have in a very long time.

Being healthy and in-shape is a wonderful thing because it not only affects your body but also your mind. It's been pretty well documented that lack of physical activity can lead to depression. There was even a study that came out recently saying that processed foods (i.e. non-whole wheat carbs, and foods with added sugar) were linked to depression. It's become abundantly clear to me that we really are what we eat. If you have a poor diet, you're going to feel like crap mentally and physically.

Becoming healthier changed my entire mood. I just felt better overall. I felt more confident and less miserable. I had more energy, and therefore, I had more desire to go out and do things. I started hanging out with friends more often. I branched out and met some new people. Again, there was no particular goal in mind. I just decided that I no longer wanted to watch life pass me by.

My more active social life ended up expanding my circle of friends. I mentioned a couple months ago how I was dying to go on a vacation. Well, along with one long time friend and a couple other relatively new friends, I booked a vacation in February. It's only a 5 day trip, but I'm very excited for the chance to travel with a bunch of friends to a place I've never been.

I've also been talking to this sweet girl that I met not too long ago. We've hung out several times and talked on several other occasions. She's a very nice person, and I think I just might like her. We'll see how things unfold, but for now I'm just happy that things seem to be falling into place for me for once.

There's that saying "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." That was me for all these years. I wrote about my miserable life. I lamented on how I was alone, single, and seemingly going nowhere. I wished things would change. However, I didn't do anything about it. I just sat around hoping for some sort of miracle to fall into my lap and fix all my problems.

Finally, I realized that I had to do something or else I would be doomed to misery for the rest of my life. I didn't have any idea how I wanted things to play out, but I knew that the first changes had to be in myself. Without making those changes, none of this other progress could have occurred.

I move forward from this point without any regrets. I'm happy, hopeful, and looking forward to whatever the future may bring.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hand Sanitizer

There are no studies to back me up. Despite this, I'm convinced that the use of hand sanitizer in a non-institutional setting causes people to get sick more frequently. In institutional settings (i.e. hospitals or long term care facilities), studies have definitively shown that the use of hand sanitizer dramatically reduces the risk of spreading infections from patient to patient. However, to my knowledge, the use of hand sanitizer has never been studied in the general public. Just like we have different guidelines for treating community vs. hospital acquired pneumonia, I believe the use of hand sanitizer works differently in the community than in a hospital.

In hospitals, most of the patients are already immunocompromised. They're sick. They have open wounds, catheters, tubes, and other entry points into the body that aren't in your average person walking the streets. Hospital workers must frequently wash and/or sanitize their hands in order to prevent resistant bugs from being spread patient to patient.

In the community, people are relatively healthy. They generally aren't immunocompromised in the ways that hospital patients are. In addition, a healthy person is covered from head to toe in bacteria. Lots and lots of bacteria. However, this is not a bad thing. The normal flora covering your skin and mucosal linings help keep you healthy. The presence of this normal bacteria prevent more dangerous bacteria from adhering and forming growing colonies.

I postulate that hand sanitizer in a community setting is bad for you because it does exactly what it claims to do. It kills 99.9% of bacteria on contact. The only problem is that it doesn't discriminate between bad and good bacteria. It just kills 99.9% of everything on your skin. Therefore, upon eliminating the normal flora on your skin, bad bacteria are better able to latch on and replicate unimpeded.

People seem to have this idea that we should live in a sterile environment. They spend an inordinate amount of time cleaning and sanitizing themselves and every surface they might ever touch. It's next to impossible to convince these people that they actually have an immune system, and it does fight off germs if you let it. However, when you kill off your normal flora with sanitizers, you're weakening one of your body's primary defenses against infections.

I just wish someone would do a study on this. I'm almost positive that it would show people who use hand sanitizer regularly get sick more often than people who don't.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Money: The Great Divider

I went to this dinner party last night (yes, it was as exciting as it sounds). A girl I know just got a new apartment and wanted to have some friends over. The apartment was very nice. Hardwood floors throughout. Very spacious. We were all joking that it looked like an apartment you'd see on Friends.

A bunch of us were sitting in the living room in front of the television armoire, and someone decided to check out the TV inside. It was almost comical. There was this huge armoire, but inside was a tiny 19 inch flat screen TV, only a little bit bigger than the screen on my laptop. Everyone kind of joked about it, and I remarked that you could get a pretty nice 32" flat screen for around $300 these days. Of course, one of my friends looked at me and said, "Only $300? That's a lot of money! We all aren't pharmacists!"

This short anecdote illustrates how seemingly all my friends and everyone I meet, on some level, can't get beyond the fact that I make a lot more money than they do. I never talk about my salary. I don't show off expensive things. My clothes are just as normal as everyone else. I've worn the same moderately priced watch for about 6 years now. I do everything I can to not let on how much money I make. However, in the end, no matter how close friends we are, they still hold it over my head in some way.

Back when I was young, stupid, and still in school, I used to constantly talk about how much money I'd be making. I didn't brag about it. It was more of a statement of "wow, I can't imagine that." At the time, I worked with a pharmacist who was only a couple years older than me. She warned me that it's probably best to never tell anyone how much money you make because once you do, they start looking at you differently. I didn't understand why that would be the case. Money, while important to living a comfortable lifestyle, never factored into how I judged a person.

Well... maybe a little bit. I always had a little bit of contempt for the uber rich who had everything they could possibly want and still wanted more. However, $100 to $200 thousand per year doesn't make you uber rich. It makes you pretty comfortable.

In any case, upon becoming a pharmacist and noticing for myself how people looked at me when I told them I was making over $50 an hour, I stopped talking about money altogether. I never bring it up anymore. I try to act like everyone else. However, when I do that people will remind me about the money.

If I don't want to call a big raise playing poker...

If I talk about wanting to save money by cutting back on eating out...

If I'd rather not spend my money on some expensive item...

In all these cases, someone will inevitably cut in saying, "C'mon, you make more money than all of us combined."

Even every new person I meet will say to me, "You're a pharmacist? I heard they make a lot of money." I swear that's the first thing out of everyone's mouth. I'm so sick of hearing about it. It makes me feel bad for having a good job. It makes me feel like everyone else thinks I'm better than them in some way.

I've actually been thinking of some sort of career change, and I think a lot of it has to do with this issue. I can't do it yet because I still have loans to pay off. That'll only take a little over 2 more years at my current pace, and at that time, I think I'd seriously consider changing professions entirely. I want to do something that makes me happy regardless of how much money I make. I want a job I look forward to every single day. Maybe that job doesn't exist. All I know for certain is that I've never even bothered looking for it.

The other option that I've been kicking around is after my loans are paid off, donating half my salary to charity. I make $120,000 per year. If as a single guy, I can't live comfortably off $60,000 per year, then there's something wrong with me. At the same time, I'd be doing good for the world. Maybe I could even start my own charity foundation, although I would have no idea where to start.

Those are just some ideas I'm kicking around. I just wish I could explain to people that after a certain point, money doesn't make you happier. Once you get to the level where you can live comfortably, the only thing the extra money allows you to do is buy more stuff. Stuff doesn't make you happy. I'm not any happier having a big screen TV than I was when I was watching an old 20" TV in a 100 square foot college dorm room. My condo's granite counter tops and hardwood flooring don't care about me. They're nice to have and nice to look at, but they don't make me any happier. Money hasn't gotten me the admiration of women. If anything, making much more than all my friends has only served to alienate me.

OK... That's enough rambling for today.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Sometimes That Old Lady Isn't the One Losing Her Mind

In a pharmacy, this situation presents itself numerous times every week. Some old customer will come to the counter looking to pick up a prescription, except there will be nothing in the bin for him. Upon looking in the computer and checking signature records, we learn that he picked up the prescription he was looking for just 2 days earlier. However, he can't recall ever picking it up and swears to all that is holy that he checked his medicine cabinet a dozen times and that pill bottle just wasn't there.

Usually, this story always ends the same way. Several hours later, the old customer will call in saying he found his medication "way in the back" of his medicine cabinet. Thus, order is restored in the world.

Being so experienced with these situations, we were not at all surprised when the 82-year old Mrs. Smith came in one day trying to pick up a prescription that none of us could find in the bin. The computer said that it was filled 2 days earlier. One of our technicians checked the signature log and told Mrs. Smith that she had signed for the script on 9/25, the day after it was filled. Mrs. Smith couldn't recall ever coming to the pharmacy the day before. Nevertheless, the technician assured her that she must have it at home somewhere and implored her to check her medicine cabinet again.

A couple hours later, Mrs. Smith called the pharmacy saying that not only could she not find the prescription at home, but she had called her daughter, and her daughter said that they had been out shopping all that day and never made a trip to the pharmacy.

A different technician took this phone call. She also checked the signature log (which is a computer print out showing the patient's electronic signature and the date signed). The technician again informed Mrs. Smith that they she definitely signed for it on 9/25. Once again, Mrs. Smith was told to recheck her medicine cabinet.

"Mrs. Smith is really losing it," remarked the technician. "She really can't remember being here at all."

Two hours later, Mrs. Smith showed up at the pharmacy again. You can see she was getting noticeably frustrated. She swore on her life that she had not come to the pharmacy the previous day, and she demanded to see the signature record thinking that someone else must have signed it. Once again, the technician printed out the signature record. This time was no different than all the other times. Mrs. Smith's signature was unmistakable, and she signed for it on 9/25. The tech showed the signature to Mrs. Smith, and despite it being just about identical to all her other signatures, she was convinced that someone must have forged her signature.

Finally, the tech showed the signature log to me and asked if I thought the signature could possibly be a forgery. Let me note, that this was not a controlled substance. It was Benicar, a blood pressure medication. No one goes to a pharmacy looking to steal Benicar. I looked closely at her signature, and I concluded, like the tech, that it wasn't forged.

Therefore, I took the computer print out in my hand and approached Mrs. Smith. "Mrs. Smith, this is definitely your signature. You signed for prescription number 123456 on September 25... TWO THOUSAND EIGHT!!!!!!," I yelled out.

The entire day, we were driving this poor old woman mad telling her she signed for a prescription the day before when she knew she never went to the pharmacy that day. The whole day, we were remarking how terrible it was that Mrs. Smith was losing her mind. In reality, two technicians kept reading 9/25/2008 and thinking 9/25/2009!

I apologized profusely to Mrs. Smith (and fought the urge to strangle both technicians who put the poor woman through hell all day). I don't know what actually happened to the Benicar prescription that supposedly was filled 2 days earlier. I think we must have lost the label somewhere before it ever got filled. Therefore, I quickly filled the script for Mrs. Smith and sent her on her way. Fortunately, she was a good sport about it. I think she was just relieved that she was right the whole time, and she wasn't losing her mind.

On that day, an 82-year old woman proved to be sharper than the pharmacy staff. Lesson of that day: Don't automatically assume the customer is wrong.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Learning from Tragedy

Today, I learned that someone who graduated with me from high school committed suicide. I haven't seen him in years. I think I've ran into him maybe 2 or 3 times since I graduated. We weren't good friends, but I wouldn't hesitate to include him as one of my friends. He was always a good guy. Not overly bright, but he had a good heart. He always seemed like a happy person, so the news that he took his own life is shocking.

People always try to look for reasons or come to some sort of understanding when things like this happen. I certainly can't make any sense of it. I always thought he was one of those guys that had everything you could ask for. He was a good person. He was good looking and athletic. He had bulging biceps and shredded abs since he was 12 years old. He played basketball with me in middle school. Mind you, he had absolutely no basketball skills whatsoever. He was on the team because he was just about the most athletic kid you've ever seen. I'm fast. He made me look like I'm standing still. He could run, jump, and play defense... and that's all we asked him to do. He was happy to contribute however he could.

He was a police officer in a neighboring town, and from all reports, he did a very good job. I used to joke around with friends that I'd feel bad for the criminal that tried to run away from him. Unless you were Usain Bolt, you weren't outrunning him.

A "self-inflicted gunshot wound" is how the newspaper worded it. All my friends on Facebook immediately posted how it was a tragedy. They said things like "RIP" and "we'll miss you." You know... the standard things everyone says when someone dies. I couldn't help but think that if all of us had showed him how much we cared about him when he was alive, he may have not wanted to end his life.

Why do we always wait until after someone dies to show an outpouring of love and support? I'm guilty of this as anyone else. We take so many things and so many people for granted. We fight over little, insignificant things. We don't make enough of an effort to support the people we care about. Then we talk about how it's such a tragedy when someone decides to take his own life at such a young age.

I think it's a tragedy too... a tragedy that we weren't good enough friends to at least try to help him overcome his problems. I'm sorry that I didn't know he was having such great personal troubles. He was a good guy. He always treated others with decency and respect. A part of me feels like we failed him.

I don't believe in heaven or hell, so I can't make such throw-away statements as "I hope he's in a better place now." If things were really that bad for him that he felt the only option he had was to end his life, I can only say I'm sorry. I hope we remember the good in him and strive to cherish the friends we have.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I Hate Buying Jeans

I hate clothes shopping. I really do. Some people absolutely love the process of buying new clothes. I am not one of those people. I'm the type of person that likes to know exactly what I'm looking for when I walk into a store. I don't browse. I don't hunt for sales. Usually a trip to the store for me takes less 5 minutes. I walk in, proceed directly to the item or items I want, pay for them, then leave. No time wasted.

You can't do this with clothes shopping. You have to see what the stores have. You have to try things on. Ask associates if they have other sizes in back. The entire process is irritating to me.

I've been putting off buying new jeans for a while now because of this. I own two pairs of jeans. I've had them for a couple years now. I alternate the pairs. However, a couple months ago, one of them got a rip in the knee. At first, it was a small tear, so I kept wearing them trying to pass it off as something I did on purpose (it may have worked if this was the early '90s). Unfortunately the rip got bigger and bigger, so I eventually had to put those aside as junky jeans that I would only wear around the house.

That left me with one pair. Well, having only one pair of jeans means that they get washed twice as often. That along with wearing them twice as often ends up wearing them out twice as quickly. Of course, being a couple years old, they were already worn out. Without an alternate pair, their condition got worse pretty quickly.

So, today I finally bit the bullet and took a trip to the mall to buy new jeans. This brings me to the overall point of this blog post and probably the biggest reason why I hate jeans shopping. It is extremely hard to find a pair of jeans that fit me.

I'm going to tell you a little something about my physique. As I mentioned before, I exercise fairly frequently, and I eat pretty healthy. I'm 5'9" and weigh 160 pounds. I'm not all shredded like an Abercrombie model. I don't have a 6 pack, but I'm probably only a few body fat percentage points away from one. No normal person would ever call me overweight.

However, I cannot fit into a pair of nice jeans for anything. The reason? For my size, I have a huge ass and big legs. Think of a guy version of Jennifer Lopez. It's not fat. My lower body is all muscle. My quads are ripped with all the muscle groups readily visible. My legs are just very strong for my size, which is probably why I'm as quick as I am.

Of course, this doesn't help me find a decent pair of jeans. If you were to take a tape measure and measure my waist, it would be less than 30 inches. However, if I bought pants with a 30 or 31 inch waist, they're made so tight in the legs that I can't even got them up over my thighs. Today, I had to try on 4 different sizes until I found one that fit. It ended up being a pair with a 34 inch waist. Then, I run into another problem. They fit great in the legs, but they're so loose in the waist that I have to tighten my belt to the last hole just to keep them up. The waist of my jeans end up looking like they're scrunched tightly together with a draw string.

The whole situation is just very frustrating to me, and I find myself asking who are they making these jeans for? Seriously, you would need to have no ass and legs like a toothpick to fit into the jeans that coincide with my actual waist size.

You know it used to just be women that had to worry about clothes made for unrealistic body types. After all, it seems like designers think your average woman has a body like this:

As gorgeous as I think Mila Kunis is, her ass isn't exactly a shining example of the female figure.

Apparently, designers have noticed the trend in women, and tried to copy it in men by bringing skin tight jeans, that I thought we had left behind for good in the '80s, back to the mainstream. The only guys that can fit in them are the effeminate ones. Do women really like their men to be scrawny with chicken legs?

It's not like I'm only talking about top of the line designer jeans here. I'm not looking for Calvin Klein or Gucci (do they even make men's clothes???) jeans. I'm talking about the middle end stores like J. Crew and Banana Republic.

As a guy with strong, muscular legs, the only options I'm left with are to purchase low quality jeans (from Walmart or something) or stick with decent jeans but have to buy them 5 sizes too big in the waist just so my ass can fit into them. I choose the latter option and invest heavily in belts.

I realize this was a feminine sounding rant, but it really was the thing that pissed me off the most today. My next post will have to be about basketball or something to balance this out.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

What Does It Mean to be "Nice" Anyway?

"Nice" is one of those words that doesn't really have a meaning, at least not one that I can tell. Every day, all I hear is "you're a nice guy," or "Mike's so nice." What does that even mean?

Seriously... What does it mean to be a "nice guy?" As far as I can discern, being "nice" is about never saying anything that might offend someone. See, I'm nice because I avoid confrontation. I'm nice because I don't say bad things about others. That's the extent of it though. It just seems to me that being "nice" is about being so bland that people can have no strong feelings toward you whatsoever.

"Nice" shouldn't be mistaken with being "kind." A "kind" person is one who is constantly helping others and putting others before himself. A "kind" person is a giving and sharing person, and one who's always ready to compliment someone or congratulate someone for a job well done.

Being "kind" is a very good thing. Being "nice" just seems to be meaningless. That's me though. I'm a "nice" guy, but I'm often not an overly "kind" guy. That's not to say that I'm a mean spirited person. Far from it. There are times when I'm kind, but not really on a regular basis. I'm just "nice."

The other day, one of our technicians (a middle-aged woman) said to me, "You're a nice guy. If you can't find a girl, it's because you're not looking hard enough." True as that may be, it's not exactly like when I'm super successful when I try to meet girls. It's not like I've never tried before. They're just not that into me.

The reason? There's nothing to me. I'm not interesting. I'm not fun. I'm not outgoing and gregarious. I don't have many interests or passions. I'm just "nice," and that's what I always hear.

eHarmony girl (like 2 years ago now) told me "You're a really nice guy, but I'm not ready for a relationship now." I'm just so sick of the damn "nice" label. I mean, it's good to be nice if there's something else to you. If you're fun and interesting, then being nice is just kind of an added benefit. However, if you're like me, and all you have is being "nice," that's the formula to remaining single forever.

How do I fix that though? It's just the person I am. I can't change it. I can't just decide to be more fun and interested in more things. It doesn't work like that. At least I don't work like that.

It seems that while I have plenty of admirable traits (honesty, hardworking, loyal, smart, nice), the combination of them all just makes me boring.

Obviously, I'm in the middle of a very reflective time. I'm trying to work some things out in my head. It's becoming clearer and clearer to me that pretty much nothing in my life gives me a sense of fulfillment or purpose. I have a job I sort of like but don't really believe in. I moved into a condo that most people would say is very nice, but despite the entire place being newly renovated, it just doesn't feel like my own. I'm thinking I need to make some kind of radical change in my life, but I have no idea what. I'm not really sure what else I could do. Moreover, I know that right now, even if I knew what I really wanted, I wouldn't have the courage to go out and chase my dream.

I'm just stuck in this rut, and I keep digging myself deeper and deeper.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Today My Past, Present, and Future Flashed Before My Eyes

The phone rang.

On the other end was a voice I've heard so many times before. It's been some time since I've talked to that voice, but there were many years when it would be the first and last voice I heard each day.

I didn't know why she was calling me. I guess I didn't care. She was a part of my life I had left behind, nothing more than a fond memory of a more innocent time. We talked for a little bit, just like old times. We always could talk to each other. We were always better friends than relationship partners. Even during the worst times of our relationship, we still had that bond of friendship. It might be more distant since we haven't spoken in quite some time, but it's still there.

After about ten minutes of chatting about some random things, she paused for a moment. The next words out of her mouth would have scared me to death eight years ago.

"Mike... I'm pregnant."

During our time together, those words were quite literally the worst thing she could have ever said to me. We were barely out of our teens and still in college. Neither of us had a dime to our names. An unplanned pregnancy would have altered our lives forever.

She's 28 now. She's been living with her boyfriend for over a year. He's a big city lawyer and makes probably close to twice as much money as I do. The pregnancy wasn't planned, but seeing as they're both adults and financially stable, it's not like the timing was bad.

I heard those words, and I was hit with a wave of emotions like I've never felt before. I was happy, proud, sad, nervous, and scared all at the same time. I congratulated her, and we talked about the whole thing. We spent nearly an hour on the phone just talking and laughing and speculating about her unborn child. It was a good conversation... Really nice.

I hung up the phone, and I couldn't stop smiling for a while. I was happy for her. Overjoyed actually. She's an incredible person, and she's gone through so much in her life. She's one of those women that were just born to be a mommy. She loves kids and loves caring for people. For the last few years, she had been struggling with physical and emotional problems (that she attributes to our breakup). To hear that she finally got her life together and was going to have a baby made me really happy.

Happiness was the predominant emotion, but there was some sadness and regret not to far from the surface. When we were together, we often talked about "our kids." I wanted a girl. For one, the idea of having "daddy's little girl" really appealed to me. Secondly, since my girlfriend was so small (and I'm not exactly a big guy either), I knew whatever children we had together would grow up to be small. It's easier for a girl to be short than it is for a guy. Short, petite girls are cute. Short guys... not so much.

Back then, I always thought that whenever she finally did say the words, "I'm pregnant," I'd be the first one to hear. I'd be the one there to hug her and hold her. I'd be the proud and happy father-to-be. I'd get to tell all my friends "we're having a baby!" I'd get to go to the ultrasound appointments and take care of her.

As I type this, I'm holding back tears. Not because I wish she was still with me and having my baby, but because it's a moment I may never get to share with someone. I may never get that moment of pure joy that you get when you first learn that the woman you love more than life itself is having a baby with you.

Occasionally, I've written about how I don't really know what I want out of my life. I've said that I'm not even sure if I ever want to be in a relationship. Well, times like today remind me of who I really am... Who I'll always be.

I'm that proud father kind of guy. I want to teach my son how to throw a baseball and shoot a basketball. I want to bring my daughter to her dance recital. I want to help my kids with their homework, watch their baseball games, see their faces as they unwrap gifts on Christmas.

There are so many dead beat dads out there. So many guys that don't deserve to have children, but they have several from several different women. Then there's me... Someone with all the traits you'd look for in a good dad, but there's a good chance I'll never be one. And it'll be such a waste.

Every day I look in the mirror and I see an image I hardly recognize anymore. The hair is getting greyer, and the hairline isn't where it was when I was 18. The fine lines, wrinkles, and saggier skin remind me that I'm not young anymore. I don't feel any different than when I was 18, but people sure don't look at me the same way. I regularly get referred to as "sir." No one cards me when buying alcohol. Why would they? I'm nearly 30 years old.

I'm nearly 30, and I'm still alone. I've had one real relationship in my life, and that one ended 4 years ago. As the years go by, instead of becoming more refined and sophisticated, I've become simpler. I'll never wow a girl. I'll never sweep someone off her feet. I'm boring. The only way I'm getting a girl is through pure dumb luck.

For now, I sit in this barren room in my newly renovated condo and type my thoughts out to strangers because there's no one else I can talk to. I'm still happy for my ex, which goes to show that I really don't have romantic feelings for her anymore. I just hope one day I'll get to share that moment with someone, even though I know that the chances of that happening keep getting smaller and smaller.

It Was Too Long to be a Comment

This was supposed to be a follow-up comment to the last post, but since I kept writing and writing and writing, I figured I might as well make it a new post.

I go in early for myself. It has little to do with the patients. Yes, they may benefit from speedier service and because I have more time to talk to them about their medication. While those are positives, they're not why I go in early.

I don't believe there is a remedy to the situation. I think that most people out there just function in this way. It's their nature. Yes, you can try to impose rules and crack the whip in order to get them to work harder and be more focused. However, in the end, they don't become better workers because they want to be. They become better because you forced them to become better. They don't appreciate you for it. Instead, they hate you for making them work so damn hard. They think you're unreasonable.

It's the same thing in every environment I've ever worked in, pharmacy or otherwise. There are always people that fight over who gets to do certain daily tasks. They'll argue about who takes too many breaks, who comes in late, who leaves early, etc. You replace the problem workers with new ones only to find out that your new workers have the same problems.

The situation actually doesn't stress me out that much. Yes, sometimes when everyone else is slacking off, and I'm the only one working, things can get a little crazy for a while. However, I usually don't feel stressed as much as I feel that I'm being treated unfairly. Why am I the only one busting my ass? Why do I bother doing what I do when everyone else can get away with doing so much less while still getting paid the same?

Moreover, why when it comes to being hired or fired does seniority count more than job performance?

We had an intern at our store for several years now. She started before she was even in pharmacy school working as a tech. Then she worked as an intern throughout her entire time in school. She'd work weekends. She'd cover people's vacations. She'd come in when someone would call out sick. She worked hard, and she did a very very good job.

Well, she just got her pharmacist's license. What should have been one of the happiest times for her turned bitter sweet when our DM told her that there are no pharmacist positions in the company for her.

She had worked with the company for over 5 years. She was a great intern, and she's going to have a great career as a pharmacist. She's extremely smart, works hard, is constantly striving to expand her knowledge base, and gets along very well with all the customers. However, she can't get a job with us. Meanwhile, my company has some pharmacists that quite literally begged to be fired still on payroll.

One floater in particular was so bad that several stores refuse to have him sent there anymore. He'd go in 30 minutes late, close the gate 30 minutes early, spend the entire day bad mouthing to customers and staff, in addition to constantly saying how much he hates the DM and everything to do with the company. He still gets his hours. He still collects his paycheck. Our new pharmacist, on the other hand, has done everything right, but simply because she got her license during a hiring freeze, the company has nothing for her.

It also bugs me because if my company ever decided that it needed to start laying off pharmacists, I would be one of the first to go because I'm one of the newest pharmacists. I work harder and do a better job than probably 90% of the pharmacists we employ, but if it ever came time to cut someone, my name would be near the top of the list.

It just goes to show you that if you work for a chain, you're nothing more than a license to them. If they need more licenses they hire more people. If they need to get rid of licenses they just pick the ones they hired most recently. They don't care how hard you work. They don't care how much your coworkers and customers like you. It's all about the chronological order in which they hired you.

That's why I feel there's almost no point in even complaining to management about laziness or poor job performance. They might give those offending workers a slap on the wrist and a stern "you better start working harder" talk. It might even work for a couple weeks. Then, they'll fall right back into old habits. When you bring it back up to management, they'll start getting annoyed and questioning why you're the only one that seems to have a problem. Then, you end up being the one that's on watch. The truth is that management doesn't really care unless enough people come forward that they have to care. If it's just one person, they don't want to be bothered. Managers are just as lazy as every other employee. They just stuck around long enough that someone decided to make them managers.

Of course... I'm speaking generally here. I know there are plenty of sparkling examples of good employees and good managers. One thing's for certain though. They certainly are not the majority.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

People Will Get Away With Whatever You Let Them

It had been a busy work week up until today. It was my turn to open the store. Like usual, I arrived at work 45 minutes before we opened in order to fill all the prescriptions called into the refill line the night before and organize the place so that we could start the day smoothly.

My coworkers, along with probably every other normal pharmacist out there, get to work right when we're supposed to open. When I come in an hour later, the pharmacy usually looks like a bomb went off with prescription labels all over the place, voice messages yet to be checked, and customers waiting in line. It looks like chaos to me, but I guess most people don't mind it. It drives me crazy though, so I've decided that, for the sake of my own sanity, I will get there extra early in order to have everything done, so we're not playing catch-up. I don't get paid for those 45 minutes, but to me, the peace of mind is totally worth it. Plus, I get to spend the first 45 minutes of the day listening the music on my PDA instead of whatever generic garbage that happens to be on the radio.

See, I know I'm strange in this regard. I don't expect anyone else to be like me. That's not the point of this post. The problem I have is that my coworkers see that I've done all this work and just assume that means I'm going to do everything all day long.

It's the same thing all the time. They stroll in and before they do anything, they look for breakfast. Then, they spend 10 minutes eating breakfast. Then they look around to see just how much work has piled up, and if it doesn't look like that much, they decide it means they can take another break. One of them might take a walk around the store to see if there's anything she needs to get for home. One of our pharmacists sometimes announces, in the middle of the day, that she has to go pick up something at Walmart, and then leaves for 45 minutes. They'll all sit down and have conversations about who the hell knows and watch me while I do everything.

Today, right around noon time, the second pharmacist decided that she wanted to go into the store's backroom and watch as our pharmacy manager built us some shelves for the room where we keep all the old prescriptions. If she wanted to take 5 minutes to check it out, I'd have no problem with it and wouldn't be complaining now. SHE TOOK AN HOUR!

During that hour, I got swamped with work. One of the technicians, realizing I was getting killed tried paging her back to the pharmacy. She didn't come. Fifteen minutes after the page, she strolled leisurely back to the pharmacy, apparently having seen enough of the shelves. Then she acted completely shocked that I might have gotten busy and backed up during the busy lunch hour trying to do the work of 2 pharmacists by myself.

I guess I bring it upon myself. When I'm at the pharmacy, I spend the entire time working. I don't come to socialize. I don't come to grocery shop. I don't drop what I'm doing in the middle of the day and run to the store down the road to pick up some shoes (I'm not making that up). If there's work to do, I do it. If by some small miracle, we're all caught up, and there's nothing at that moment to do, I wait until there is something to do. Then I do it.

The kicker is that I sometimes get jokingly accused of stealing everyone's work. They'll see scripts start to come in, and they'll say, "Oh, Mike's here. He can handle it." Then they go right back to talking or otherwise wasting time.

Maybe I wouldn't steal anyone's work if people actually did the work when they were supposed to. It just seems to me that for a lot of my coworkers (and I'm sure it's the same way with most people) unless you constantly stay on them to keep busy, they'll do everything but what they're supposed to. Sometimes, I swear half of them need Ritalin. They have such short attention spans when it comes to working. They'll fill 3 or 4 scripts and then get sidetracked for the next 5 minutes because they have to talk about someone who just walked by with ugly shoes.

Yes, I know what a lot of you are saying. "Stop whining about it and say something to put an end to it." You're right. That's what I should do. However, I'm spineless when it comes to confrontation with coworkers. In addition, this is my blog, so I can complain about whatever I want (and I often do.)

The point isn't whether I should or should not be cracking the whip on these people. The point is that I shouldn't have to. Everyone knows what they're supposed to be doing at work. Why do they have to be continually told in order for them to do it?

The other day, one of our techs (our lead tech who thinks she's too good to wait on customers) looked at a customer in line, then walked right past them and out of the pharmacy. The customer looked exasperated to be ignored like that. I watched it happen, but I figured there had to be some sort of explanation. Maybe she had just put the phone down and ran out in the aisle to check the price on something. Maybe she was going out to help someone find an item. Not knowing what was going on, I dropped what I was doing, and went to help the customer at the register.

You know what that tech was doing? She went out into the aisle to get a chew toy for her dog. She walked right by a customer, so she could go buy a fucking chew toy! That one almost made me lose my cool. That time I know I should have fucking let her have it, but once again, I'm a wimp.

I've watched my coworkers look at customers in line, but then let them wait there for a minute while they finished a conversation.

I've seen my pharmacist coworkers completely ignore a customer asking a medication question, which causes me to stop what I'm doing to answer it. Know what the excuse often is? "That was a 'Mike question'" meaning that they thought I'd know the answer better than them, so they let me take it. You know... in a lot of cases, I actually don't mind them deferring to me on medication questions. I'm not exactly an encyclopedia of pharmacy knowledge, but there are some areas that I consider myself very well-versed. Therefore, if a question comes up in one of my strong areas, I don't mind playing the role of "resident expert." However, when they start deferring to me before they even hear what the question is, that's just being lazy.

I thought all this lazy crap would go away once we got rid of Betty. It hasn't. In a lot of ways it got worse. Interestingly, the fact that Betty was so lazy and such a shitty pharmacist made everyone work a little harder to not be like Betty. After all, you can't really complain about someone if you pull the same shit. Her extreme laziness also forced everyone else to pick up a little more slack just to get the work done. Now that she's gone, much of the staff has relaxed and collectively filled the void of laziness she left behind.

I guess their laziness is what makes me valuable to the pharmacy though. My coworkers think I work so damn hard and do such a good job simply because I do what they all should be doing. The truth is that I feel like I could be doing so much more, and I continually try to improve on the areas where I feel I'm lacking.

That's the main difference between me and what seems like most other people. Most people do some work and are satisfied with themselves for being productive. I'm never satisfied with anything I do. I always feel I should be better. I always feel like I'm not working hard enough. It's just not in my nature to be like them.

Back to my original point (I'm getting really sidetracked) about coming in early. I come in early so that we never have to fall behind during the day. When I get a new script, I can do it right away without having to worry about 30 scripts on the refill line that need to be done. However, because several of my coworkers seemingly only work when we start falling behind, my coming in early ends up not making a difference. We end up falling behind anyway because they don't start working until they see a pile of script building up. I end up running around like crazy either way.

Pretty much the only thing I get from coming in early now is a couple extra hours of peace in the morning. I'll still take that over being crazy busy during those 2 hours. It just shouldn't be like that though. I come in early so that we're caught up. If everyone did the work they were supposed to do, we would never all behind.

Ok... I'm having such a hard time writing lately. Everything I write comes off sounding disjointed. Back when I didn't have any readers and was completely anonymous, I wrote about anything I wanted as much as I wanted. If I wanted to write 30 posts in a row about how my life sucked without my ex, I could. Now, I try to not be so repetiive, but it's taking away from my writing quality.

Hopefully, I'll get back on track soon.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I Don't Think People Understand the Importance of Exercise

The thing that bugs me most about my fellow coworkers is the frequency that a few of them call out sick. Now, I entirely understand that people do actually get sick from time to time. Moreover, I'm not talking about someone that develops some kind of chronic disease like an autoimmune disorder or something rare and random like that. However, we have several people on our staff that call out every single week, and it always seems like it's for the stupidest reasons.

"I have a cold."

"My back hurts."

"I'm nauseous."

I also see a number of my friends who are constantly getting sick and complaining about being sick. I think I'm starting to detect a pattern...

OVERWEIGHT people who live a SEDENTARY lifestyle get sick far more often than people who exercise regularly.

I know that the medical community has known this for quite some time. However, I'm writing about it now because it has become so abundantly clear when comparing myself to the people around me.

I've mentioned in this blog before that I rarely get sick. I've never called out sick for work a day in my life. I haven't taken an antibiotic or gotten a prescription filled since I was a freshman in college 9 years ago, and that was for a relatively minor sinus infection that had I known then what I do now, I wouldn't have gotten that prescription either. I don't get headaches. I don't get the sniffles. I get a minor sore throat and a stuffy nose maybe once or twice a year, usually in the winter months, and the symptoms usually go away on their own within 2 or 3 days.

As I also stated before, I take absolutely no special precautions to avoid germs. I don't shy away from contact with other people. I don't constantly wipe everything down with alcohol. I don't carry a bottle of Purell with me wherever I go. I don't excessively wash my hands every 5 minutes. Basically, I don't do any of the things that germophobes do, yet I find that they happen to get sick much more often than me.

The only reason that I can come up with to account for my resistance to colds is that I exercise quite regularly, and, for the most part, my diet is relatively healthy. I do slip from time to time, splurging on pizza or a restaurant like Chili's maybe once a week. I also have a weakness for Octoberfest beer, but the season will be over soon, and I can cut those empty calories out of my diet too. Other than those few indulgences, my diet consists mainly of chicken, brown rice, eggs, broccoli, oranges, bananas, whole wheat bread, and milk.

I do some form of exercise almost every day. I follow a body weight workout routine 3 days per week. In between workout days, I try to get in a session of high intensity interval training (HIIT). However, HIIT generally leaves me feeling like I want to die after about 10 minutes (and that's how it's supposed to feel), so if my legs aren't quite up to it, I substitute going down to the park and shooting some hoops for 45 minutes to an hour. Saturdays are usually my rest days, but many times I'll go shoot hoops or some other form of light exercise for a little bit. On Sundays, I usually play a couple hours of full-court basketball in the morning.

That is a routine week for me. I don't even feel like I'm in that great of shape. However, compared to the average person, I'm like an Olympic athlete. Everytime when I hear the regular absentees call out of work sick again, all I can think is that maybe if they got off their asses and exercised every once in a while, they might be healthier (as in sick less frequently).

Really, it doesn't take long to work out. My body weight routine takes me 45 minutes. HIIT takes 10 to 15 minutes at the absolute most (trust me, if you're doing it right, you're not going longer than 15 minutes) 2 or 3 times per week, and that will take care of your cardio. That's a total of 3 hours of exercise per week right there. No, it's not professional athlete level, but it's sufficient to maintaining some form of physical fitness. No one can say they don't have 3 hours per week they can devote to exercise.

I've ranted about health care several times on my blog. As everyone who reads my endless drivel knows, I'm a proponent of Universal Health Care. However, I feel the absolute most important thing we can do as a nation to improve our health care is to do a better job teaching people how to be healthy. We need to start at a young age and stress the importance of exercise. We need to begin teaching children as early as elementary school how to eat right. We have wars against drugs and smoking, but when it comes to the food we eat and our level of exercise, we seem to be very passive. Eating right and routinely exercising are probably the single best way to improve the health of the nation. Healthier people spend less money on health care. Healthier people are more productive at work. Hell, healthier people are happier people in general.

I work in a grocery store, so it's quite common for me to hear overweight, out-of-shape people trying to decide what and how much to eat by reading the caloric content and other nutritional facts on a box of muffins or crackers. I still get shocked when I see people pushing around carriages full of regular Coke or Pepsi. Maybe it's because I gave up regular soda so long ago, but I'm shocked that people still buy non-diet soda.

I understand if people are confused over which kinds of fats (saturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, trans) are unhealthy. Nutritionists can't even seem to decide what kind of fats are bad for you. However, I thought everyone knew that all the added sugar in soda was unhealthy. Maybe everyone does know that, but they just don't care. That's probably the case, and honestly, I think that's a tragedy. People shell out big bucks for medication in this country, but in many cases, the most effective way to treat their conditions is lifestyle modification. For example, people with metabolic syndrome will probably be on a statin for cholesterol, an antihypertensive, and/or an oral diabetes medication like metformin or glipizide. However, want to know the absolute best way for these people to improve their health and prolong their lives? LOSE WEIGHT THROUGH EXERCISE AND EATING HEALTHY.

It's easier to take the pill though, isn't it? Medication is becoming a way for people to, once again, shift responsibility away from themselves. Even the way the medical community names these "diseases" shifts blame. For example, metabolic syndrome makes it sound like something that just randomly went wrong with your body. If you have high cholesterol, heart disease, and insulin insensitivity, it's not because you're overweight and out of shape. It's because you have this "syndrome." So you go and take medication to treat your "syndrome," but that medication better work well and not cause any side effects or else you'll go screaming to doctors, pharmacists, and pharmaceutical companies about how they're trying to kill you with these dangerous drugs.

Let's shift the blame back where it belongs. Instead of calling it "metabolic syndrome," let's call it the "Disease of the Obese and Inactive." Instead of prescribing drugs, you prescribe proper diet and routine exercise. Tell them that they're the ones who got fat and out of shape, and the situation will not go away or improve unless they lose weight and exercise.

Of course, this would be bad for business in the world of pharmacy, so maybe I really don't wish that. I sort of like feeling like I have a super human immune system. I also like having a job, so I guess I retract everything I've said up to this point.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Thanks For the Responses

Thanks to all who commented regarding Walgreen's pseudoephedrine tracking system, as well as several commentors who explained that the law is a little different in other states.

Your comments made it very clear to me that the problem lies in my own company's system for tracking pseudoephedrine. It's glaringly obvious that our paper log book is not sufficient to ensure we properly follow the federal law (regardless of how dumb I think that law may be).

I plan on bringing the issue up to my superiors and seeing if I can get anywhere with it. My guess is no, but it doesn't hurt to try.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Is This True?

The walgreens system is computerized and will not let you sell the product if it is over the daily or monthly limit and the data is readily retrieveable.

That's what someone left as a comment to the last post. If that's true, then I have a bone to pick with the Walgreen's pharmacist down the street from us who told me he had no way to find a specific person's history in their electronic database. If it turns out that it's readily available, then he was being lazy (and that's not even a busy store), and I'll be calling him back soon.

Is it possible that it could differ from state to state? It doesn't make much sense, but I'm completely oblivious to other state's laws.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Dumbest Law

I absolutely hate that we're required by federal law to keep track of pseudoephedrine sales. For one, I don't see how people turning Sudafed into methamphetamine is a problem for me. Honestly, I couldn't care less if people are getting high off the stuff. Shit, they can make all the Meth they want. It's never affected my life one bit.

I have the same attitude towards the whole "war on drugs." Do I think people should do drugs? Absolutely not... except if they're getting prescriptions drugs at MY pharmacy. I think it's important to educate people on the dangers of drugs, but, in my opinion, that's the best we can do. If after learning the dangers, people still want to get high, then I say we let them. They were warned. If they still choose to do drugs, then they can only blame themselves for fucking up their lives.

Moreover, I hate how we pick and choose which drugs against which we stage this "war." We're made to keep track of Sudafed, a drug that's been sold over the counter for fucking decades, but when it comes to alcohol, nobody cares. What the fuck is that? Alcohol has killed more people and ruined more lives than methamphetamine, heroine, and cocaine combined, but we have commercials for Budweiser before every fucking sporting event. It's especially weird when you compare it to a drug like marijuana, which has an adverse effect profile that pales in comparison to alcohol. But judging from commercials, if you get drunk, no matter where you are, you'll probably be surrounded by models in bikinis, whereas smoking pot will destroy your life. If we're going to fight a war against drugs, then I say we should be consistent and fight against all drugs.

I digress... Besides the above reasons, the biggest reason I hate the "Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act" is that it's completely unenforceable. I'm a firm believer that a law can only be a law if you can enforce it. The whole Sudafed log book thing is really just designed to be a speed bump to try to deter people from buying massive amounts of pseudoephedrine and making methamphetamine, and like most speed bumps, there are plenty of ways around it.

First of all, there's no central pseudoephedrine database that all pharmacies can access. I have no idea if the person that just bought 2 boxes of regular Sudafed from me has a stuffy nose, or if he's bought 2 boxes of Sudafed from every pharmacy within 5 miles over the last 24 hours. A person can literally go from pharmacy to pharmacy buying Sudafed, and as long as he stays within the daily limit at each store, no one would think twice about it.

Secondly (and this is the reason for this post), some pharmacies do not even have a good system for tracking pseudoephedrine sales. For example, my pharmacy keeps a log book. This log book is a simple, old-fashioned binder where we write down the customer's name and address along with the product he bought. In a slow store, this might work fine. However, when you're filling 400 scripts per day, and there's literally 5 or 6 different employees who might be at the register during the course of the day, it's really hard to keep track of who bought what and when. I'll admit, we generally do not look through the log book to check if the person is within the monthly limit of pseudoephedrine. In fact, a customer could probably come at 9 in the morning, buy 2 boxes of Sudafed, and then come back 8 hours later and buy 2 more boxes from a different cashier, and we wouldn't even realize it. We're just too busy, and it takes too much time to always check.

This became clear to me over the weekend when one of our clerks thought that one of the pseudoephedrine-purchasing customers looked a little sketchy and decided to look back through the log to see if he had a history. Well, she found out that he had purchased Sudafed 12-hr about 15 times during the months of July and August. Technically, he was within the legal monthly limit. However, after reading the article The Angriest Pharmacist mentioned, I decided that some asshole undercover narcotics agent might consider these sales "reckless" and arrest me on felony drug charges.

I brought the issue up to my pharmacy manager, who kind of laughed it off. I don't think it's funny though. A paper log book is not a good enough on-the-fly tracking method. Sure, we can look back and see who got what, when, and how much if we were alerted to someone who might be buying a heck of a lot of pseudoephedrine. However, it's very unlikely we'd ever deny someone the sale on the spot because we just wouldn't have the time to thoroughly analyze the book. I suggested that we try to bring our situation to corporate (along with a copy of the article to which Angriest linked) in order to try to get an electronic tracking system.

Upon calling the closest Walgreen's in order to ascertain if our Sudafed Guy had been getting it at other pharmacies too, I was told by the Walgreen's pharmacist that even though they have an electronic system that monitors and makes sure no one is sold more than the legal limit, the pharmacist cannot actually access the records and search for a particular customer's purchasing history. Therefore, he could not tell me if our Sudafed Guy was getting Sudafed from them too. He just knows that if they did sell it to him, he would be within the monthly limit at Walgreen's.

What good is that? Just like I said, even with the electronic tracking system, there's nothing stopping someone from going pharmacy to pharmacy purchasing the legal limit. Therefore, like I said, the law is simply meant to be a deterrent making it a little bit harder for someone to acquire enough pseudoephedrine to make methamphetamine.

While I think a law as a deterrent is pretty stupid, it wouldn't upset me so much if not for the fact that, judging by the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics actions against that pharmacist, the federal government takes the law very seriously... so seriously that they're arresting pharmacists because they're selling perfectly legal quantities of pseudoephedrine to "suspicious" customers.

If you want to have your stupid law, fine. Just don't pretend that it makes a difference. Yes, it seems that ever since the law has gone into place, there have been far fewer methamphetamine labs in the United States. However, despite fewer labs, the supply of methamphetamine on the streets has stayed roughly the same. The reason? Mexican producers have noticed the increase in U.S. demand of their methamphetamine and have increased shipments into the country using the cocaine shipment routes from the '80's. Therefore, just as many people are getting high on Meth now as they were before the act was implemented. Doesn't sound too successful to me.

All the federal government is doing now is taking the focus off the real methamphetamine dealers and putting it on pharmacists, thus adding another responsibility to our ever growing pile. When will this shit end? We get so bogged down in following the stupid laws that we forget the whole point of the law in the first place. It's the COMBAT METHAMPHETAMINE EPIDEMIC ACT. The new law didn't do a damn thing to stop the epidemic. It's now simply inconveniencing pharmacists and possibly turning them into felons for selling a drug that has been perfectly legal for decades. The stupidity never seems to end.

Monday, August 31, 2009

I Want To See Some Palm Trees

One of the biggest disadvantages of being alone is that I have no one to go on vacation with. I haven't gone away for vacation in almost 2 years now. I know, I know... That may not seem like a long time to a lot of people, but I've been dying to go somewhere for a while now.

The truth is that I've never really taken a vacation where I got to do what I really wanted to do. My most recent trip was to Miami a couple years ago. I went with a few friends, and I got dragged to clubs, bars, and through the entire Miami night life scene. Some would have a grand time on that kind of trip. I think anyone who has read my blog for a reasonable amount of time would know that night life isn't exactly my style.

I just have this overwhelming urge to go somewhere with beautiful beaches, lush scenery, and warm weather. I'd love to go to Hawaii or somewhere in the Caribbean. I want to spend about 5 days just relaxing in the sun, sand, and ocean. I want to go see the sights that I want to see and have nice quiet dinners. I'm not in college. I don't need to go away and party. I would say that phase of my life is over, but I never went through it in the first place.

Every time I get a vacation week off from work, I get bombarded with a million questions about where I'm going and what I'm doing. There's only so many times I can tell people I'm just going to be relaxing at home until I feel like a complete loser. I know they're just harmless questions, but how am I supposed to answer them? Sometimes I just want to shout, "LOOK! I'm single and at an age where most of my friends are either married, engaged, or in long term relationships. Who am I supposed to go on vacation with?"

I know some people travel by themselves, but I just can't picture myself doing that. I think I'd just be miserable the whole time thinking how lonely it is to be in such a beautiful place by myself. Therefore, I'm stuck here and forced to listen to everyone else talk excitedly about their vacations.

And just to make it clear, I have no desire at all to brag about my vacations to everyone I know. I generally don't like talking about my personal life. (Instead, I just tell everything about myself to the world via the internet). I just want the experience. Hot sun, warm water, palm trees.... Just a few days of that is all I want.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Six Years Ago, I Knew. I Don't Know Why It Was A Mystery To So Many Others

I've had my current email address for over a decade now, and sometimes I like to take a walk down memory lane and read old emails I sent and received. I stumbled across this email dated February 23, 2003, and I thought I'd share it with you:

All I know is that this is a scary time. I don't know why we are so bent on starting a war. It seems like he is not doing anything wrong. We only guess that he has nerve gases. We have no real proof other than a couple of satellite photos that don't tell you anything. Saddam said it; Bush will start this war whether or not he complies with the UN. Bush is actually pushing Saddam to do something. Someone needs to assassinate him. lol. I'm not even kidding. I hope someone shoots Bush. This is ridiculous. Our country looks so bad right now because of him and his stupid Iraq policy. So what if Iraq has connections to Al Queda. So does every single country in the world that has Arabs in it. For god's sake, we're probably financing Al Queda without even knowing it. I don't understand any of this. Saddam hasn't done anything in over 10 years. He hasn't attacked anyone. Hasn't threatened anyone. Hasn't done a damn thing, and now all of a sudden we are starting a war with him. We, the US, are starting a war. The world's policeman is turning into the world's bully. We're supposed to stand for peace, but we're starting war on a country that hasn't done anything to anyone in over 10 years. Meanwhile, N Korea is over there threatening everyone with nuclear weapons and we ignore them. I don't see the sense in that. We attack the country that is under such close scrutiny right now that they couldn't attack anyone if they wanted to, but N Korea, a country that no one can even get into, is allowed to make nuclear weapons and threaten us. We're spending trillions of dollars on this stupid war, and at home, everyone is losing their jobs. How exactly is he making the world better again??? The economy is the worst its been in probably 15-20 years. Our war policies are looking exactly like the Vietnam war policies. We're going after a bunch of ghosts. The threat just doesn't exist... at least not to the point that he is making it seem. If we drop this whole war idea, Saddam is not gonna bomb us tomorrow. The whole thing is just stupid, and of course it's perpetuated by the biggest moron to ever lead a country in all of history.

Remember... This was from February 23, 2003. It was a full month before we invaded Iraq (which a quick wikipedia search tells me was March 20, 2003). I was barely 21 years old at the time. To say I was naive and inexperienced would be an understatement. However, I somehow knew what the President, his cabinet, his advisers, Congress, and about 50% of the population of our country did not. Could everyone really have been that stupid?

This is why I have very little faith in humanity. This is why I stay home by myself on most days instead of going out and mingling with the rest of the world. It just seems that ever since 2000 (and I only go back that far because that's when I started to pay attention), when given a choice, we always make the wrong decision.

In 2000, it was Bush vs. Gore. I'm pretty sure everyone in the country knew that Gore was smarter, more politically experienced, and more knowledgeable on foreign affairs than Bush. However, gosh, we just didn't like the way Gore sighed at Bush's stupidity in that first debate. In addition, Bush seemed like a guy we'd like to have over for a barbeque, and that's clearly the most important attribute of a potential President of The United States.

We go to war with Iraq in 2003... for no reason whatsoever. We stay in Iraq for over 6 years (and counting) because we wouldn't want to leave until "mission accomplished." Of course, when there was a never a point to begin with, it's hard to accomplish anything.

In 2004, we re-elect Bush despite the fact that the economy tanked, he unapologetically gave every single break imaginable to the wealthiest 1%, and started a war for no reason with no intentions of ever stopping it. Meanwhile, Republicans somehow made John Kerry's military service and awards look like a bad thing, and they coined him as the "flip-flopper" because he actually took his time and reasoned out his decisions instead of just being "the decider" and acting quickly regardless of the facts.

We finally did something right in 2008 when we elected Obama. This was a man running on an agenda of "change" and "hope." He was a progressive democrat who promised to bring about the changes this country desperately needed. Of course, when he got into office and started drafting policies to enact this change, people stepped back and said, "Whoa... I thought that "change" he kept talking about was just beautiful sounding rhetoric. I didn't know he really wanted to change things!"

Thus, we're now in a situation where Obama can't get nationalized health care passed because even the democrats (who are taking just as many campaign contributions from the pharmaceutical and insurance companies as republicans) don't want to rock the boat and possibly upset the shareholders of Aetna, Cigna, United Health Care, or any of those other altruistic corporations. Now, instead of getting a system along the lines of EVERY OTHER INDUSTRIALIZED COUNTRY, we'll have to settle for Co-ops, which are run by the very corporations that were the problem to begin with.

I wish I could say I have hope for our nation and our planet, but I don't. People are too stupid and too easily fooled. When a 21 year-old kid, who's biggest daily concern was which dining hall to eat at, is able to predict the outcome of what turned out to be possibly our country's biggest foreign policy blunder ever, it doesn't say much about the people who are actually in charge.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Who Comes Up With These Ideas?

I may be stepping further out of the realm of anonymity in this post, but at this point, I don't care. Something has to be said about these completely asinine rules my corporate office is enacting.

My chain is one of those wonderful ones that give away antibiotics for free. It was supposed to be a temporary thing, but because of the program's "great success," corporate keeps extending this "promotion." Apparently, corporate's idea of "great success" entails prescription counts falling, my store alone losing about $10,000 per week in dispensing fees, not attracting new long term customers, and not pushing any additional OTC products. Corporate says they've gotten great feedback from customers. Sure... You can get a lot of great feedback by giving shit away for free. Hell, I bet if we dispensed everything for free, we'd get some truly glowing customer reviews.

The evils of free antibiotics aren't what I really mean to write about though. It's the procedures that they make us go through in order to give a customer a free antibiotic. First of all, these antibiotics are only free for a certain advertised days supply (which is really just a preset quantity in the computer for each drug that will print out with no charge). If we're going strictly by our advertisements, anyone getting 30 day supplies, for example, of antibiotics must pay for them. Of course, if we're going by how we advertised the program, ALL antibiotics would be free of charge too, which is far from the truth. However, instead of making customers pay for maintenance antibiotic scripts, we're told that if customers question the price, we're to edit the script so that it only goes through for the number of pills that is allowed for free. Of course, going back and editing those scripts forces us to do extra work... extra work for free because it's in the name of a FREE ANTIBIOTIC.

That's not even the peak of the idiocy of these policies. Because we cannot put a price of $0.00 on a medication, corporate had to set the free quantities of these antibiotics to be $0.01. When the program first started, we were instructed to simply cross out the 1 cent charge and give out the prescription for free. Simple. Hassle free. Therefore, we all should have known that wouldn't last.

Because corporate policy dictates that it must take every simple procedure and add at least 10 pointless steps to it in order to accomplish the exact same thing, the procedure was changed. Now, the "free antibiotic" has to be rung into the register, and we're instructed to ask customers for their store scan saver cards. Upon scanning their cards, the 1 cent is removed, and the price goes to zero.

Now, this almost makes sense. You see... If the idea was that you had to apply for a store scan saver card in order to take part in the free antibiotic promotion, I'd almost not oppose the free antibiotic program with every fiber of my being. After all, it would actually be an active attempt by our store to recruit new customers and bring in more business. Like I said... It would almost make sense.

However, it turns out that while we're instructed to ask for their savings card, the customers aren't actually required to have one. If they have a card, great! If they don't have a card, we'll just put in some code in the register, and the antibiotic prescription goes back to being free. So, if the customer doesn't have to have a scan saver card, then why the fuck are we even bothering to ask them for one?

Corporate's answer: We're supposed to have card applications at the pharmacy counter for customers to fill out if they don't have a card already and are picking up a free antibiotic prescription. My response to that: Fuck you! Obviously none of those corporate geniuses have seen how long it takes a customer to fill out a HIPAA profile release form or to even do something as simple as write a check. That's all we need in the middle of a busy day is for customers to be holding up the line as they take 10 minutes to fill out a fucking scan card application at our counter.

Here's another corporate policy that went from simple and straight forward to pointlessly convoluted. Like many pharmacy chains, we offer to flavor suspensions and solutions for people who can't stand the usual taste. Several years back, it couldn't have been simpler. If a customer wanted something flavored, we'd charge them a small fee (something around $3.00) and add it to the cost of the prescription. Simple, straightforward. The customers are happy because they get an extra service performed for a very small fee. We're happy because not only did we make the customer happy, but we got paid for our effort. It was a win-win situation. Then at some point in the past, corporate decided that win-win situations apparently suck for business, so we stopped charging for flavoring. After all, our pharmacists really have nothing better to do than spend our time performing services that don't help the business at all. Well, at least there wasn't any additional paperwork, so other than not getting paid, it wasn't really a hassle.

No hassle? "That can't be right," decided corporate one day. "Let's add a few more steps to the process." Now, when a customer wants something flavored, we're supposed to enter it into our computer system and get a label to print out with a small fee. Great! We're going back to getting paid for flavoring!

NOPE. You see, that small fee will be entered into the register at which time we're instructed to ask for the customer's scan card. Scan the card, and the fee vanishes, kind of like a stain in one of those Billy Mays OxiClean commercials. At this point, it becomes just like the free antibiotic bullshit. If they don't have a card, we just enter a code into the register, and the fee for flavoring comes off anyway. This begs the question: If everyone is just going to get the flavoring for free anyway, then why are we even bothering printing out a label with a price on it in the first place? If everyone gets it for free, then why did they even put a price on it? And if they knew everyone was going to get it for free, why didn't they just make it $0.01 like the antibiotics? Why does the label say a few bucks before scanning their cards? It makes no sense.

Those are just 2 examples of corporate taking simple policies and adding a bunch more steps for the ultimate purpose of accomplishing THE SAME DAMN THING as before.

While I'm ranting, I might as well throw in our policy on gift cards. Now, with the shear volume of gift card promotions that places like CVS and Walgreens run, I know they must have a simpler policy than ours for handing them out. It takes us like 5 minutes to give out a gift card, and that's after the prescription has been typed, checked, filled, bagged, and the customer is standing at the register waiting to pick it up. We have to enter each gift card into a gift card log. Then we have to fill out a form that goes into the register that lets our cash office know that a gift card was given out at the register (because the gift card log and coupon in the tray aren't enough). Then we have to activate the stupid gift card which is often a trying process for some of our less than stellar cashiers. It's not impossible for us to spend an hour per day simply handing out gift cards if it's a busy day in the middle of a gift card promotion.

See... This is really the only part of retail pharmacy that I can't stand. I don't mind screaming customers. I can tolerate moron receptionists and doctors with god complexes. I just hate being a bitch to our ridiculous corporate policies and procedures. I guarantee that I spend twice the amount of time every day trying to be compliant with corporate policies in order to avoid being penalized in our own internal audits than I do counseling patients. If the policies at least made some kind of sense, I might even be able to tolerate those too. However, 99% percent of them seem to be thought up by some moron sitting hundreds of miles away in an office somewhere just trying to figure out ways to waste our dollar per minute time.