Thursday, July 30, 2009

Was a sunny day

It's 80 degrees, a beautiful summer morning with a gentle warm breeze. In a few hours I will be working in the windowless deep-freeze of the Acme chain pharmacy, filling upwards of 400 prescriptions at breakneck speed or is it reckless speed. You will approach the counter impatient as all get-go, with a crazed glint in your eye, and demand attending to. When informed your insurance won't pay for Cialis or Viagra, you will rant and spew forth invectives as your suburban neighbors look on, then I will politely point you in the direction of the baby aisle where you may purchase a pacifier. Later the techs and pharmacy staff check out your profile and bingo... tricyclic antidepressants. Knew it!

But mostly it's not the customers who stress me out, it's the pharmacy manager (better known as my boss) for this 1000 hour internship. Sally, a tall West African woman with a quick smile and hearty laugh, gets all glum when I walk in. It's understandable, saddled with this menopausal intern who after 30 years of side-stepping the profession is now in dire need of her tutelage.

So she won't play in the sandbox with me. A thirty year hiatus in pharmacy amounts to resurrecting the dead. The last time I donned the white jacket, the major drugs of choice were Digoxin and Inderal, and Talwin, the addicts drug of choice. Now I need to learn over 1500 drugs with sound-a-like names in look-a-like white oval shapes. When I walk in her smile fades, her posture straightens and often she points me to the register. How in God's name can I learn how not to kill you dear reader, when I'm mostly learning how to give change? "I'm a pharmacy intern, not a cashier." I say to her. The techs look away from there pills and revel in our tension.

I send off an e-mail to upper management: Is this the best use of your money, training a pharmacy intern on the register? I get no response. Send it off again. I call the district manager. He skirts, he slides, he's a slippery devil. It's to no avail, I get it...stop complaining.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Confessions of a Pharmacist

I'll start with avoiding a lawsuit. I'm rather naive about this sort of blogging ritual but the one thing I keep hearing is not to name names. So to avoid any messy litigation, the chain I work for will herein be named CVF or maybe Walblues, no I think it will be Acme drugs. Fictitious, but seems to make its point. In the future if I hear from any well-meaning lawyers out there, maybe I can actually name the chain pharmacy without losing my house, my cat, my son. Big brother really is watching, lurking somewhere behind men's hair dye, around the corner from chondroitin and Maalox.

I began working for Acme Drugs 850 hours ago which in part time parlance is about one and a half years ago... as a pharmacy intern, and in just a few months, will have completed my 1000 requisite hours. Then it's off to a pharmacy law exam which if I pass-never a sure thing-will magically turn me into a full fledged pharmacist. Basically there was a hiatus from pharmacy of approximately 30 years, working as a high school biology teacher (4 years), print broker (15 years), and NY Times freelance writer (3, unless you count rewrites). Of late, in this uncertain, last gasp economy, the broker business has plunged into freefall, the NY Times a tailspin (online and not paying), and that left the one lonesome annoying burr in my sock... pharmacy. But the surprising truth is... tada, drum roll... I really don't hate it. I sort of find it, well, total gravitas, in an overwhelmingly solemn way. The job is important. Nothing fancy, no cocky editors, no frou frou design firms checking 4- color dots. This shit is real. I could kill anyone of you out there by simply being in the middle of a really funny story, with a snappy punchline, as the techs double over in laughter and ... oops, procardia, not prozac... hypotension, fainting, dead on the floor in your suburban split level.