It seems that there is an American sport called, “Let’s bash the French.” At one point a half decade ago, it got so out-of-control that they changed the name of a favorite deep fried potato to “Freedom Fries” in the cafeterias and restaurants in government buildings in Washington, DC. Recently, however, I have found reason to respect the French.
Drug Topics just printed a JP AT LARGE column in which I talked about having to wait for my prescription while the pharmacist and his pink-smocked ancillary staff finished up a whole roast chicken and all the trimmings for lunch. “Interrupt our lunch? How stooopid, Monsieur Americain.” The year was 1976 and I clearly was far from home.
The meal included a bottle of wine. At lunch! I found this to be exceptionally civilized. In that column, I made light-hearted fun of the way we do lunch in pharmacy in America. I suggested that Tom and his techs, Marsha and Olivier, at CVS give a chicken a try. I talked about how it made me laugh so hard that I hurt myself.
Now, today, I read in The New York Times another eye-opening trait of the French. They believe that THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS WRONG. A French merchant will not admit that she is wrong and it is impossible for her to apologize. It is just the way it is.
I like it. I have for sale, right here on this site, a little book that I wrote in 2006. “JP’s 20 Simple Rules for the Successful and Satisfying Practice of PHARMACY”. Rule Number 18 is: THE CUSTOMER IS NOT ALWAYS RIGHT. Actually, in the pharmacy, the customer is NEVER right.
The trick in France is to somehow get the offended customer to admit that the mistake was his or her own fault. I like that too, but what do you do when a non-pharmacist manager butts his or her nose in and accuses you of the dreaded crime of BEING RUDE? There are no pharmacy workers out there, with any miles at all on their careers, who have not been accused of being rude. I am beginning to think that customers are very smart rats and have learned that throwing around the “R” word will get a knee-jerk reaction from DNA challenged store management.
All they have to do is say, “The pharmacist was RUDE.” The retail managers go apoplectic over the “R” word. Why is that? Customers don’t like your tone of voice. RUDE! You smile at the wrong time and you are a smart aleck who is RUDE.
I was stopped by a customer with a bottle of Imodium in her hand. I apologized and told her that I was on the way to the wash room. I would counsel her on my way back to the pharmacy. RUDE! What do they want?
“But, she is wrong,” I remember squealing to a little, bald, protruding-belly manager. “She does not have any refills.”
Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch dvd “Call the doctor.”
“No, I will not call anyone. She has no refills.”
He had his index finger in my face, waving it. “She said she has refills. Why would she lie about that?”
I pushed his hand down and moved away. “I will not call the doctor. It is an antibiotic from a year ago.”
He stormed away and came back later with his trump card. “Now she says that she will go to K-Mart because of your rudeness.” He was spraying spit around he was so worked up in his retail customer righteousness mode. “I want you to write a letter of apology to her.”
Of course, I refused to do anything more in the matter. My original inclination was to give her a ring and to TALK HER DOWN with an explanation about the inappropriateness of my calling about a refill on an old antibiotic Rx. Forget it. Why would I want to do ANYTHING for her?
This incident was probably a determining factor in my relationship with this manager. It was dicey and unpredictable right up to the day he was escorted from the store by company security for sexual harassment. I expected the next store manager to be an improvement. I was wrong. I learned that the “R” word is the “R” word and always will be the “R” word.
You know and I know that THE PHARMACIST IS RARELY RUDE. The customer is ALWAYS WRONG. I like it that way.