Apr 1, 2013
Tomorrow, Tuesday 4/2/13, will be my last shift working in a pharmacy. I don’t know what to think of that. Getting off my feet is necessary. I was diagnosed with progressive post-polio muscular atrophy in 1987. I attended a few clinics, but felt like a fraud. Here were people my age in wheelchairs and using canes and crutches. Some of them wore braces. I felt as if everyone was staring at me because I was walking around with seemingly no ill effects. Subsequently, in 2007, I was told by a neurologist who did an electromyogram that I could not hurt myself by working. We were back in a corner laboratory. Him, me and an impressive array of computers. The doctor brewed coffee and we had a cup of laboratory Joe while he inserted 4 inch 18 gauge needles deep into my leg muscles. He had me flex the muscle, and then made notations into the computer. He answered two questions. Victoria had to know if I would ever need a wheelchair. A profound “No”. I had to know if I would hurt myself by working on my feet. “No. You can’t hurt yourself, but you will know when you better hang it up.” That moment came about 18 months ago, during a 1:30 PM to 10:00 PM shift. I came home and announced to my ever lovin’, “I can’t do this much longer”.
That much longer comes at 4:00 PM tomorrow afternoon. Why did I continue to work for 18 more months? We had a place in Sarasota, Florida in mind to be where we ended up. We pulled the trigger on a condo in our dream gated community on the day after Thanksgiving in 2011. It was the bottom of the real estate bubble. It was one half the asking price in 2005. V put some money into it, but it is our forever place. Well worth the investment.
I also continued to work because I enjoyed it. The company that I work for is huge. I get the impression that the separate districts are somewhat autonomous. I doubt if it is this was in every company pharmacy, but I always took a half hour meal break. A real one. I liked to go to Pho 18, a Vietnamese Noodle restaurant around the corner. An absolutely brilliant cup of coffee and a few spring rolls took the place of that ubiquitous Snickers bar and 20 ounce Diet Coke that costs the same as one share of stock of Big Stupid. I ran my personal lunch program. If I had errands or needed to get out a little early, I didn’t take a lunch that day. It is amazing how good a Big Grab of Fritos, a few handfuls of fun-size Kit-Kats taste when you do not have to have that kind of meal.
I was scheduled only to work two days (16 hours) a week. I did plenty of favors and put in extra shifts, but I was part time. I qualified for profit-sharing retirement and a company stock fund. I bailed out of both two weeks ago. I was in both of these for barely 4 years. V is having tile floors put into our condo as I write this. Our forever place remember. This company treated me very well.
It competes with Big Evil and Big Stupid so the Masters of the Universe get all hot and bothered by the usual money-losers. Following the $4.00 prescription jackass is the model. Gift cards for transfers. On and on. There are metrics, but
anyone with sense can handle the metrics.
We can handle all of the bullshit that is killing our industry, because we have to right now. Do not bitch and complain. Say you are going to do it with a smile. Then, do it if you can. There are opposing forces in the industry. There are people with power on our side. You, be a force for change. Did you ever give your kid that candy bar because he whined for it?
The best part of my job has been customer service. Rx counseling and OTC counseling. When I get an OTC question, I never leave it at, “Left side of aisle 9”.
I always go right out front and triage. They tell me their symptoms and, after a few questions, I recommend an OTC product, suggest that they better see a doctor or tell them, “Get your ass to the trauma center right now.” I would rather OTC counsel than Rx counsel. It is what I was trained to do in the 1960s. It was called Counter Prescribing. It was what druggists did. I am proud to be a druggist, man. Pharmacists who are willing to play the role of druggist save our nation billions of dollars a year. Because these people would go to emergency without your triage skills.
So, I am done. Man, I am so relieved. We will be in Sarasota by next Sunday. I will then spend an extended period of time being a retired Florida guy. I will wear short pants and tee shirts. I have a straw Panama hat that looks silly, but it shades my head. I will read a helluva lot, get a small tan and swim. We will eat good food. Drinking superior coffee and reading the papers in the morning cannot be beaten. A glass of wine or a finger of scotch whiskey with V, on our lanai, at sunset is a good way to wind the day down. I will do this until I do not want to do it anymore.
When I want to, I will be coming back and going full-frontal on the culture that has been ruining our business. There is a whole list of them. We can start with the MBA Bean-Counting Masters of the Universe. Continue with Big Evil and what they have done to denigrate an honorable profession. I will intend on being a player in the crusade to get the message that working conditions are killing people to the people with power. Think television investigative reporter.
I will expect you and every one you can get together to join me.