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The drugs might change, but the people never do. Part 2 of our best of the 70s series.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Nowhere is this as obvious as in pharmacy. Pharmacists have always had to deal with the angry, the confused, the totally unaware, the supposedly witty.
You told us your worst stories, now take a look back at what pharmacists had to deal with more than 40 years ago. (We apologize if this number makes you feel old in any way.)
Back in the 70s, Drug Topics ran a semimonthly column called “Silly Syndrome.” Pharmacists would send in their wackiest stories, and we combed through and picked out the best to share with you. These stories were so good, we couldn’t just narrow them down to 10-we needed to make three different lists just to contain it all. For now, here are 10 more of the weirdest experiences that pharmacists had (and let’s it face it, probably still have) to deal with.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out part one. And be sure to check in next week for part 3, you won’t want to miss it!
And if reading these makes you remember that one time you had to explain how correctly use a suppository or when you had to tell a customer a script would cost more, then let us know in the comments below!
Up next: Holey incompetent
Pharmacy school could never prepare you for dealing with all the oddniks [editor’s note: some words should stay in the 70s] you’ll run across. Take the new clerk I recently asked to hang pictures in our store. After supplying her with pictures, nails, and a hammer, I went about the profession of pharmacy, leaving her to her own devices. Came the first hard slam of the front door and pictures fell like autumn leaves. Her explanation for what went wrong: “I didn’t hammer the nails all the way in because if I did that, it would have made holes in the paneling.”
Physicians are by no means exempt from the “Silly Syndrome.” Over a period of years, I have filled a particular prescription for suppositories for a doctor who always wrote, “SIG: 1 p.r. b.i.d.” One morning, recently, I was handed a prescription written by this doctor for the same suppositories, but with this SIG: “Twice each day, morning and evening, remove the wrapping from suppository and insert the suppository into the rectum.” I was so curious because of the abrupt change in writing style that I called the doctor. I had barely gotten out the question when he interrupted me with: “Listen Bill, if you had spent half the morning digging tinfoil out of someone’s butt, you’d know why I spelled it out so completely.”
I’d nominate him for the Guinness Book of World Records, Length of Sinus Cavities Division-the customer who kept insisting his clogged sinuses required Vicks Navel Inhaler.
Maybe people with health problems on their minds are just wackier than other folks, or maybe the wacky ones are just attracted to drugstores. In any event, a woman came into our store the other day and asked for white petroleum jelly. While I scrounged around trying to find it, she informed me: “That’s the best thing in the world for swollen feet. Rub that on and they’ll never burst. But don’t give me any Vaseline in the petroleum jelly-it has to be the pure stuff!” Come to think of it, maybe she was on the pure stuff.
How many times have pharmacists hear a patient say: “The doctor told me this Rx wouldn’t cost that much.” Well, not too long ago, I had a customer who was convinced the doctor had put the price on the prescription. The patron turned over a prescription for 100 Tranxene 3.75 mg. When confronted with the price, he was shocked. “But the doctor even wrote the price on the prescription,” he complained, pointing to the 3.75. Ah, what have the federal bureaucrats loosed on the profession?
The very old, like the very young, frequently take the English language quite literally-to everyone’s delight. A good customer of our one day started the ball of confusion rolling by inquiring if her doctor had called in a prescription for one tranquilizer capsule. Seems she had a stray dog tearing up her property and wanted to slow it down enough with drugged food for the dogcatcher to nab it. I phoned the doctor’s office, and was informed by the nurse that she would try to catch him in between patients. This message I conveyed to the customer, who toddled off happily. First thing the next morning, I got a call from our little old lady. “You told me yesterday that the nurse was going to catch him,” she complained, “but I haven’t seen a sign of her. That dog is still running around here biting my tulips.”
Do pharmacists grow bald scratching their heads over customers’ oddball questions? The other day I received a postcard from a customer with this incredible puzzler: “I got your prescription and the label reads, ‘one capsule in A.M.’ Do you sell the A.M.s? If not, where can I get one?”
Ever hear of the cleanest stomach in the West-Hampton Beach N.Y., that is? The owner of said stomach came into our store complaining that the Alka-Seltzer tablets she’d been taking didn’t look right and didn’t taste right. She was right. As I pointed out, judging by the product container she brought in to complain about, she’d been knocking down Polident denture cleanser tablets whenever she had a headache or stomach upset.
If they bottled the non-sequiturs manufactured in drugstores by customers, pharmacists could all die rich, if confused. Take this gem, for instance:
Customer: “I want some of that stuff they advertised on TV last night.”
Me: “What was it?”
Customer: “I don’t know, but I could sure use some.”
Me: “What’s it used for?”
Customer: “Aches. That’s what I’ve got.”
Me: “Is this it?” (After some legal third degree.)
Customer: “I believe it is.”
Me: “Fine, that’s $1.23.” (Wraps and hands to customer.)
Customer: “Now, are sure this is what I want?”
Customers! They’re great for business, but some are definitely crazy. Take the woman who asked if the $1.98 price for a bottle of 40 Geritol tablets was our sale price. I assured her it was what we regularly charged. “Why should I buy it here,” said her haughtiness, “when I can get it on sale at Osco for $2.04?”