Wednesday, September 23, 2009

That's Life

Well I guess you could say the inevitable happened. I could hear it immediately in my husband's voice. Not quite getting fired, but a slow-bleeding death of half pay with the possiblity of no health insurance. Our finances and life as we knew it are definitely over. I panicked, screamed and ranted that no way would I work a full 40 hour week in pharmacy, that I wasn't prepared to be the breadwinner, not in such a choking, ulcer-inducive profession. But a few hours later I calmed down and now, a day later, I'm considering exactly that. What else can I do? It's been such a roller coaster, but I can't let my family fall apart.

So, this morning went back to my old haunt at the Seton Hall Library, same floor, same cubicle, same vaguely familiar Federal pharmacy law I'd studied over a year ago. I guess it beats just sitting around fretting. Proactive is my new motto. Oh right, Just Do It. Speaking of which, one bright point... we rented the Jersey Shore house. And still eating lots of raspberries. Driving home from the library Frank Sinatra's 'That's Life' came on the radio and it made me smile. I haven't yet cried.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tired of the fight

I'm recuperating from yesterday. My feet ache, though only a bit, and I'm just slightly hungover with that heavy, depressive feeling I get each time I work an 8 hour shift at Acme. It's that disconnect of nonstop frenetic work, while in earshot of the easy banter of coworkers who can count pills and giggle about boyfriends and schmooze with customers. It just weighs on my soul. Entering nearly 400 scripts and basically not one word from anyone, unless you count chastising the still inept intern.

I guess that's where the spoiled pops up again. I never held a job before where I truly had to WORK. In all my other jobs, albeit in my twenties (the last time I worked on a daily basis with people), whether as a cashier, or a teacher, or a camp counselor, I made connections with my fellow workers. You know... friends. Those days, when a conversation had a beginning, a middle and often a punch line, when a sentence meandered along with a noun, a verb, yes, even a predicate adjective, within some context of structure and form, and aah, just the memory of it...coherency.

"When did your mother die?"... ringing phone, second ring, third ring, "Hello, I'm sorry can you speak up...sure, date of birth... yes it's ready, yes it's the brand...and what did she die...No, Claritin doesn't make you tired... how did she die... sorry? yes flu shots are being given now..."

At times I tell myself I'm still in the early stages of the learning curve - though I'm about to be kicked out as a seasoned pharmacist- and I still need to focus, on every little thing. Maybe it will get easier with time. Or is it the way my neurons are wired. I just can't seem to multi-task like the others. My brain doesn't work that way. When the quantity is for 90 pills and I subtract from a full bottle of 100, I always have that moment of confusion. Wait... what are those ten doing in the pill counter and why are there four left behind. This would all be fine and well if the powers that be hired a few extra hands so that I might pause and think and breathe deeply instead of spinning like a tightly wound top from phone to computer to filling.

I know, I'm still fighting the system, I need to get with the Stockholm Syndrome and side with my captors.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A bisel angel

My blog is getting hits. I don't know who's reading this, or why, or even how you're finding it, but it's like a little angel is telling me to keep writing. Maybe I'm crazy, maybe this is all a joke, a gossimer-like figment, and will just as soon disappear. But for now it keeps me going, this little blog, this small confessional. I guess I'll see where it takes me. I do know it's not only about pharmacy. More like tomorrow is a new day, a fresh start in a world that could use some changes. Good Yuntiv, a good year to you.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Misery squared

Wowie!!! I actually made $4.98 so far with this blogging. Is it possible that I could actually make a living as a writer instead of a drug pusher? I know, I know, don't get too excited here. Seriously, I have not a clue how this blogging thing works, mostly I think Google is in denial ... let's not tell them all the page impressions are from my own hand. Whatever, it's half a lunch!!

Anyway, in keeping with my last post entitled 'misery', I did some more soul searching and figured if I'm truly that miserable with my pharmacy gig and my finances in general, I might as well jump in whole hog and embrace the misery. In other words, while I'm poor and stressed out-- and in keeping with the confessional theme, slightly overweight-- I might as well start studying for the MPJE, while eating oatmeal with blueberries and raspberries, while listing our rental property every 3 hours on Craigslist. In the words of Nancy Reagan, Just Do it. Not that I'm a republican.

What pisses me off is I already took the Massachusetts law exam a year and a half ago. Failed by one lousy point then spent 5 months in an isolation cubicle at Seton Hall library studying in total panic mode. For that exam I got an 86 which prompted my nine-year-old son to say, "You overstudied."

Then it was on to the NJ Board of Pharmacy pleading with them to allow me to take the exam then, rather than after the 1000 hour internship, claiming 'menopausal brain' as my defense. They'd have none of it, so here I am studying the same exact gruel, only I don't remember jack shit. I just don't know how to study for this exam. If you don't memorize every single amendment, from the Delaney clause to the Medical Device Amendment, then how can you be sure to pass such an arbitrary, nitpicky, test. So it's back to the grind...please pray for me.

By the way, who exactly is reading this blog? Just curious, feel free to comment.

Monday, September 14, 2009


Let's see, how best can I say this. Well, at the risk of sounding overly melodramatic, something along the lines of selling my soul each and every time I walk through those electronic doors at Acme. That paycheck is my sole motivation. Every ounce of my being wants to turn the car around and head in the opposite direction of pharmacy. It's simply force of will. In other words, needing the that my husband's architecture job is in jeopardy, and our investment property on the Jersey shore is not renting out, and temple fees for Hebrew school, on and on. I might as well be a stripper or a call girl, except for that glaring problematic issue of menopause. I truly don't know how people can do this full time, day in, day out, for years. It's such mind-boggling misery.

Today the computers were down, on this, a Monday, which by all accounts is expected to be a tough day. But they raised the ante once again, short staffed us, threw at us hundreds of people wanting vaccinations, with an ever so blatant chain-wide shutdown of basic computer functions... like, well, searching for the person's name in the computer. "What should I do?" the elderly couple asked who both needed Trilyte for their colonoscopy. "Go to CVF." I said, handing them their scripts.

And here's the rub...I seriously may have to do this more days a week. When and if I pass the law exam, the adult-mom-wife in me may need to weigh the stresses of our finances and jump in, or as it were, dive in head first fracturing my without a clue skull.

There's alway work-at-home mail order, as in Medco or Caremark, no?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The laws a-callin'

Since I never quite grasped the inner workings of corporate pharmacy (which I'm sure you've noticed by now), I was naive, or was it just plain lazy, about noting my internship hours. Sure I knew it was getting close, but I figured I'd continue working through the 1000 hours, plod through my small, parttime job and simply 'look into' studying for the MJPE exam, that obtrusive elephant of the NJ state pharmacy law exam.

So I was caught offguard when Sally informed me that my hours must be coming to an end and that next week would be my last. Typical of Acme, where the left side knows not from the right, I'm still on payroll at the Greenwood store. Which makes me think, it might well have been an arbitrary decision on Sally's part to cut me off. Or, in other words, a kick in the ass. Strange as it sounds, considering how deeply I disliked the place, I felt hurt, sort of like being banned from the family get-together or dropped from a guestlist or, well, fired.

Anyway, I left a box of lemonheads, my favorite pick-me-up sugar high when I could just puke from on-my-feet exhaustion, sitting on the pharmacy counter with a note of goodbye scribbled next to a lopsided smiley face. I figure my coworkers will read into it what they may. Some might laugh, some snicker, or it may just wind up getting tossed into the garbage which is really the apt metaphor.

Friday, September 4, 2009

An apple a day

Just as I thought. Now that the government is offering free Swine flu shots, Acme has jumped to the forefront and tried to grab some of the money action. In their typical trickle down business plan, the powers that be decided to tweak the ant hill, move things up a notch, and not hire any extra help. It actually looked quite comical seeing Sally running back and forth between flu shots (eventually it will be flu and swine, as word has it that Acme is getting positioned early) and pharmacy duties, all in different rooms. The piles of unchecked prescription carts grew higher and higher as the pharmacy took on the look of that Lucille Ball episode where Lucy haplessly fills chocolates on the ever faster and faster conveyer belt. Even Tasha, our most even-keeled tech, was completely flustered. "It's busy," she said, never looking at me.

Then there's the health department problem. There must be some not very obscure health code violation for giving influenza shots in a small, cramped, unkept cafeteria; maybe not quite as dirty as before, though I didn't inspect that closely as I ran out to grab some precious half-hour sunlight and eat in my car... but I did happen to peer into the still ever grimy refrigerator. Not to mention adding a certain queasy digestion to the tuna and pizza, peanut butter and salads as we employees eat face to face with needles and cotton swabs. And what of that microbial drop of blood that lands in our, oh never mind.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Walkout at Acme

Another Monday horror show at Acme Drugs. The usual, not enough help, phones ringing till my head explodes, constant aching feet that sends me ducking in the closet to switch back and forth from Danskos to running sneakers. By mid afternoon, I no longer look people in the eye when I take their scripts. Just hold out my hand and ask for date of birth and pick up time. A blur of faces. Couldn't eat lunch, not a chance, just too busy. At 3PM turned to comandante and tried to get her to see things from the socialist viewpoint of the working class- but she remained the hard and fast techno-robot. Simply looked at me in astonishment that I would ever suggest such a renegade perspective as management caring not one twit for us.

"Why don't they hire more help?" is my usual line when I am ready to scream. Such blasphemy. The staff looks at me as though I just turned off the soundtrack, or raised the temperature to a habitable 71 degrees. Hey, here's a thought, a walkout for the 1600 plus Acme Stores at one designated time. A unified message of hiring more help, lunch at a suitable time, and heck, while we're at it, cleaner bathrooms with toilet paper in the ladies stalls. Pissed off, fed up customers are welcome to join us.

I could see it now, splashed across the six o'clock news, us with placards, marching in circles at faceless mini-malls across America. They'll broadcast salaries of the CEO's and upper management, made on the backs of the swollen-footed, bladder-retentive pharmacists and techs.