My Daddy is a pharmacist and throughout my life I've bemoaned things like the long hours he works and the lack of time he has to spend with me because of it. I've been sad when I visited him at work and he was too busy to give me attention. I've whined to him over the phone while he patiently set aside a few precious minutes of his time to hear me out.
It wasn't until recently that I really began to think about all the hellish shit I've seen him put up with over the years. Some of the characters he has to deal with on a daily basis would be enough to have me heaving sobs and yelling at everyone in my path.
One of these characters is a dowdy woman, old before she should be old, swathed is layers of dirty clothing...addicted to every sort of medication known to man. Bolstered by Medicaid and Doctor's who are sick of her as her pharmacist is, she feels somehow entitled to more than she ever should:
"Randy! Oh dear, dear, dear Randy. Has the Doctor called in my new prescription yet? Oh my....No? Well, I suppose I can wait here...or maybe you can just fill it now. I'm sure he'll be calling you today."
Oh yeah lady. Let me get you some drugs right away without a prescription. I'll take your word that the Doctor will be calling soon, even though I could lose my license and livelihood by doing so. Yeah, I'll get right on it.
I can just see my Daddy's strained face, his fake laugh so as not to show his frustrations plainly.
"Sorry Gertrude. We'll just have to wait for him to call it in."
Another great character dealt with on a daily basis is the irate middle aged man. This character is the guy that scares the shit out of you in traffic cause he's laying heavy on his horn and yelling obscenities at you and every car in his general vicinity. Now imagine this asshole on the other side of your pharmacy counter, harassing your technicians when he finds out he has to wait for his wife's reflux meds.
"For fuck's sake. What the hell can possibly take you so long to put some pills in a bottle and hand them over to me?????"
Hmmm...could it be the 300 other prescriptions ahead of your wife's? Could it be the insurance information that has to be inputted before the pharmacist can even start filling your prescription? What I'm sure my dad wants to say is this:
"Chill the hell out and take a seat assmunch. You think your impatient nature and your wife's heartburn are more important than this cancer patient's meds? Or this old man's medication that will keep his heart from blowing up? Or this antibiotic for a 2 year old sick with pneumonia? If you don't like waiting, take a fucking hike and send your goddamn wife next time."
Instead he says this through reddened cheeks and gritted teeth:
"I'm sorry for your wait, Sir. We'll have your prescription ready for you as soon as possible."
The customer that I most dreaded dealing with during my short forays as an employee at my Dad's pharmacy was the CrackHead ManLady. You've seen this type before I'm sure, even if just on some gritty crime show about 'life on the street'. She/He is grey in color, very very thin and walks in a slow stalking manner befitting their obviously drug induced nature. Their hair is so greasy it falls in pieces in front of their hollow eyes. You want to feel sympathy for them, even have the urge to help them until they open their god forsaken mouths:
"Hey...hey you. I have some money here. Maybe you can help me out and match what I have....here. I need a pack of smokes."
If you give this person money, they WILL come back for more. And more. And more. And later that day they'll send their grandkids, or their cracked out teenagers to ask you for money for more smokes. Or mountain dew. My Dad's veneer doesn't even crack (pardon the pun) for this shady character:
"Do you have a prescription or a question?"
The picky lady is another constant presence at the pharmacy. She's usually an overly put together type with bad hair and even worse make-up. She'll have her purse hiked high over her shoulder resting on one saddle bag clothed in pleated khaki pants. She questions everything that could possibly be questioned, from the price of the prescription to the instructions for taking the medications.
"And why is this drug so much more than last time? Last time I know I paid $42.79 and this time you're asking me for $50. I know I have the receipt for my last purchase in my purse."
Okay lady. Let's sit here while you screw with your receipts for a half hour. I'm sure no one else has anything remotely important to do while you try to haggle with us over the price of the medications prescribed to you by your Doctor.
Instead of being rude, or ignoring this woman, my Daddy, tired and strained by a day of dealing with fat drug seekers, angry men, crackwhore panhandlers and needy children says this:
"Sure Ma'm. You can take a seat in the waiting area and get the receipt out, when you do we'll look over it together and I'll see if I can explain to you why the price is now different."
Now that we have all properly cringed and empathized with my Dad for his neverending patience with these horrid characters, I'll leave you with a short story my Dad told me of one of the funnier experiences he has had with a 'customer'.
After being alerted by a laughing technician that he had a customer on hold with an 'emergency question', my Dad warily answered the phone:
"Such and Such Pharmacy, this is Randy the pharmacist speaking, how may I help you?"
"Randy. I just didn't know who else to call!"
"Ok...how may I help you?"
"This is so and so, you know my teenage daughter Bla Bla, right?"
My Dad may or may not have looked them up on the computer before continuing with the conversation,
"Ok, do you have a question about your medication?"
"No actually, Bla Bla wants to go swimming with her friends today. She is only 13 and is on her period. Is it safe for her to wear a tampon?"
It is at this point in the retelling of this conversation that I burst out laughing and it's never been revealed how he dealt with the question. I hope he answered like this:
"Because I am a pharmacist and not an expert on teenage girls' menstrual cycles or the gynecological implements necessary to handle such situations, I'm respectfully asking you to HANG THE FUCK UP."