JP at Large: The best and the worst


When I think of the best job I ever had, I have vivid, pleasantmemories. There was pharmacist overlap-and that is the singlemost important criterion for a job to even get in the running forbest job. One of us came in at 9:00 a.m., and the other started hisshift at noon. We worked together for four hours. There was aconstant back-and-forth banter in the pharmacy. The techs jumpedinto the fun with both feet. We joked and laughed and kidded eachother. There were times when the topic of the day was not so funny.We stuck together when a tech needed to clear her head about animpending divorce. Once there was the stress of a child being hitby a car. For me, it was a second family.

We worked very hard, and we had a good time while we filled prescriptions. The two full-time pharmacists shared the other assorted pharmacist jobs. The late guy always did the ordering, and the early guy did the bookkeeping from the day before. The two techs did the detail work, unpacking and marking the orders. They also did the checking for out-dates.

The patients were the easiest to get along with of any job I have ever had. They were mostly working-class people-pleasant people who gave the pharmacist respect. They never argued with me. They never made unreasonable demands. During the busiest part of the day, they showed patience. The stress of this job was minimal.

What I remember most about what defined my worst job was the required 12-hour shifts. Of course, there was no lunch break-no breaks at all. No pharmacist overlap, ever. The techs would often be pulled from the pharmacy for other duties, and the schedule never included a pharmacy cashier after 6:00 P.M. When I had the temerity to make a generic complaint -directed at no one in particular-the store manager would usually sneer at me. His mouth would curve into a leering grin, and he would always say, "That's why you pharmacists make the big bucks." He was one of those old-fashioned store managers with a huge case of pharmacist envy.

I always said, "You know that the chances of making a dispensing error are huge in this store. We do too much work in too short a time with too little help." That would always erase his grin. He always said, "It's your butt if there is a mistake, not mine." End of conversation.

Now that I think about it, the support of the company, or lack of support from the manager, was the only difference between these two jobs. The interesting thing is that both jobs were with the same company. They were only separated by a few hundred miles and a couple of years.

THE AUTHOR is a community pharmacist who lives in Galveston, Texas. You can e-mail him at
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