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.


Chrissie said...

Oh, I can totally relate to techs who think they're too good to actually wait on the customers. I'm working right now with 3 techs and one pharmacist intern and just me as the pharmacist and it seems like I'm at the cash more than any of them. One of them actually says, "someone will be right with you" as she fiddles around with an Rx for someone who isn't even waiting. Drives me insane. But I've been at this store for less than 2 months so I'm not going to rock the boat just yet. And also, am wimpy as I don't think I should have to tell someone who has been a tech possibly longer than I have been alive to deal with the damn customers already.

Anonymous said...

These people need to be fired.

All of them, even other R.Ph's. Incompetent workers need to realize there's no tolerance for their approach to "work" any longer. I learned quickly. Thought I had made it after graduation, put my feet up and didn't really want to work, just get a check. Was out the door in weeks. This happened 3x before I got the message.

A few tough generations of ass-busting Americans gave the heirs to this country a dreamscape to live in, and look at the laziness created as a result. I see it all day in biotech - people my age sitting at their desks, Facebook-ing, texting, LOL-ing, MySpace-ing, Tweeting.

Kick them out the door. Your management and/or firm needs to stop tolerating this. My O.

-Genentech Allstar

Anonymous said...

Mike, this blog begs for deliverance.

Others have been in this situation--I didn't feel wimpy, just afraid that someone's head would be lolling on the counter if I ever 'lost control' i.e. went postal.

I wonder if there is any remedy to the dilemma without quitting. Because, eventually, without relief, it leads to ulcers, depression, thyroiditis or other auto-immunity problems and a sense of self-loss, etc., and if the reward for selflessness (i.e. not asking to be paid for coming in early) is only the patient's appreciation, then self-worth becomed tied up in some unappreciative patient who has no idea of hell and high water you've been through to provide good service.

Hopefully, some respondents have suggestions for how to handle this set of furuncles.

Anonymous said...

I'm in a totally different field, but you find the same kind of co-worker everywhere. One of mine came to work at 10:30 a.m. yesterday (we start at 8) and then left for the day at 2:30 to GET HER HAIR DONE. But the boss is the same way, so the co-worker with nice hair doesn't get called on this crap. Meanwhile, those few of us with some kind of work ethic end up picking up the slack not because it's right or fair but because I couldn't look at myself in the mirror if I didn't.

Love the blog, BTW.

Anonymous said...

Here's a tip..don't come in early and don't do anything without getting paid for it. I know, our pharmacy got overhauled and we lost some slow pharmacists. At first it was great. But then everyone sunk back to their bad routines. I only have 1 reliable tech and the rest are like the chew toy tech..lazy. Learn to leave work just like your coworkers leave you work. I come into a mess and I leave the job with a mess. I don't get paid to clean up a slow person's mess. When it is me and another good pharmacist the place is spotless. Until you accept that lazy people don't change and they don't want to work, you will be miserable. signed, can't wait to retire