The People of Retail Pharmacy Part III

This Post was originally published on July 27th, 2014

In the third part of my series on stereotypical pharmacy customers I am going to explore some of the craziest and most frequent visitors.  While I will try to poke fun at a few things, addiction is a serious problem for us as a nation and as a health care system.  Everybody that I know has had addiction impact the life of a loved one in some way or another, and I know the struggles that those in the grips of addiction face.  Some may call it a disease, others may feel that it is a deserved predicament, but sometimes when dealing with serious issues the best way to cope is to make light of it.  If you are offended I am sorry, not that I have offended you, but that your closed off world view doesn’t allow you to see that these are real people who everybody in retail pharmacy deals with on an almost daily basis.

The Shakespearean Actor

Nobody will ever claim that pain is fun, in fact being in pain sucks.  That being said our brains have an amazing capacity to deal with pain.  We always have patients who show up and act like they are in so much pain that delaying their script by 15 minutes is tantamount to torture, even though they are trying to fill it 3 days early.  It is amazing to see these people sitting in the waiting area visibly writhing in “pain” and making audible moans, yet see them pop right up and trot out of the store once their name gets called.  I have legitimate sympathy for people who are coming directly from the ED or those who are gritting their teeth and dealing with the pain, but I can tell what a person in pain looks like, and especially with frequent flyers I can tell when they are trying to put one over on me.  As the Bard said, the “lady doth protest too much methinks”

Just Need to Pass the Bar Exam

I love being told how to do my job, especially by someone who probably didn’t finish high school.  There is nothing like having someone try and argue pharmacy law based on some half cocked idea that they were given by another junkie.  “You have no legal right to write anything on MY prescription”, ok lets discuss the fact that the prescription blank is property of the doctor issued to you so that you can bring it to me and I can keep for the time period required by state law, but if you have any issues I will gladly call the police and they can clear it up for you.

The Story Teller

Dude I don’t need the story.  It is my job to fill prescriptions, just bring me a prescription and I will fill it as long as it isn’t early and there are no red flags.  Telling me an elaborate story just gives me more opportunity to hang yourself.  Keep it short and succinct and have a back story if I ask you.  Probably shouldn’t have put this one out there, now people will know how to pull one over on my.  Oh and if you are looking for needles you don’t need a diabetic grandma, just tell me that you want to shoot up but would rather not get Hepatitis, I will sell you all the needles that you could ever want.
…But Matt Would Fill It

The pharmacy manager at my store in Winooski was an awesome guy, he had been there for almost 10 years and knew all the customers and they loved him.  When I started the drug seekers smelled blood in the water.  They thought that they could get me to dispense things by uttering the simple phrase “but Matt would”.  Guess what, Matt wouldn’t.  He had a wife and kids, he valued his license and his income, I may not know him that well, but I know that he wouldn’t fill a CII 3 weeks early for cash.  Once Matt got fed up and quit I think that the Winooskites were going to build a statue to Saint Matt outside of one of the crack houses where he was depicted passing out Oxycodone to the masses.  You can pull some things over on a new pharmacist by playing one against another, but as long as you have a good team then you can spot the bullshit and shut this all down.  After hearing “but Matt would” several thousand times I became immune to it, and once he quit the same people started pulling the “but Owen would” excuse on my new partner, and they cycle continues.

Mr Nice Guy

You want to be friendly, awesome, I can be a friendly guy.  You think that by being friendly you are going to get me to jeopardize my license and livelihood, think again.  I will do my best to help you out, but within the parameters of the law.  Once I have refused you then shit goes sour.  Why do you no longer want to be my BFF?  No, well then I am going to throw away the friendship bracelet that you made me.

“Can You Hear Me Now”

Guess what I can hear you.  Yes you on your cell phone telling people that you are at the pharmacy getting your Oxy and quoting them prices.  Its called discretion, when doing illegal things you should probably use some.  I am the pharmacist, I am master of my domain.  I have the ability to simultaneously be on the phone with a doctor, type things into the computer, check prescriptions, and overhear your conversation, all while doing a computer based training.  Even if I take a break from my omnipresence my techs are pretty damn good at picking up on what is going on and alerting me to what I may have missed.  If you don’t want to respect our abilities then I suggest that you take your business deals out to the parking lot… oh and stop pretending you are in pain.

Persistence is Next to Godliness

I will give you credit, you don’t give up easily.  Maybe when I was younger I would have folded under the pressure of you grilling me, but not today bitch.  I make my decisions based on the legality of the situation and the feasibility of fulfilling the prescription.  If I don’t have it there is nothing that I can do.  If my company or the state board says that I can’t fill it then there is nothing that I can do.  I want your business, and I will do anything I can to help you out, but this is not a negotiation. Yelling and screaming will get you nowhere.  Oh and if you are trying to pull anything over on my and your friend is the one screaming at me then its even more of a red flag.  I have no problem cordially inviting you to fill your prescriptions elsewhere, not don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out.

The Fall From Grace

Drugs can do some pretty serious damage to a person, and it ages them beyond recognition.  Just a few weeks ago there was what appeared to be a good looking girl with her back to me and I noticed that she had a nice figure and a short skirt and long blonde hair.  I was obviously intrigued and wanted to see what she looked like, but when she turned around I was face to face with a snaggle toothed meth monster.  This is pretty common, and I always get a kick out of the 40 or 50 year old women who look like they are in their 70s because drugs have just ravaged them.  For some reason it always seems to affect women more than men, possibly because I don’t find men to be pretty.

Cough Syrup Kid

Kids hate cough syrup, until they hit the 16-20 age range.  You really aren’t a junkie, but I am going to scorn you anyway.  No we don’t have any bigger bottles of Delsym.  No I don’t know anything that will make it taste better.  No more questions.  Go back to the suburbs and bother the pharmacist there, but watch out you might run into your mom’s friends picking up their Valium.

Everything I Own Smells Like Weed Guy

I know that this is probably breaking news to everybody, but there are some folks in Vermont who smoke Marijuana.  I don’t partake, but I have a pretty laissez faire attitude to those who do.  It is true that pot can be a gateway drug and for a lot of the drug seekers that I have dealt with over the years this is very true.  I was never shocked when people coming in trying to get their narcotics early reeked of weed, but it is actually impressive how they were able to get the smell to permeate everything.  Paper is porous, but how did you make it reek like a Phish concert during the mile drive from the doctor’s office, seriously, the time is printed on here, it was issued 17 minutes ago.

“Are You Going To Need All of That?”

It takes balls to ask an old lady if she needs all of her Percs.  Please stop offering her money to supplement her social security check or else I am going to have to ask you to leave.  I only ever whisper to the patients about 3 things, psych drugs, boner pills, and narcotics, but then again maybe someone can interpret my whispering to mean that grandma has something good.

Itchy and Scratchy

Meth is a hell of a drug.  Tin foil, coffee filters, and drain cleaner in your card and you want to buy sudafed? I may not have seen Breaking Bad (yeah yeah I know its a great show and I you loved it and I should carve out enough time to watch it on Netflix) but I know enough to refuse the sale.

Places to Go, Things to Do

God I wish that I was as busy as you are.  I just have 3 jobs, 2 camps to do work on, a very labor intensive beer habit, plus I am trying to run, take pictures, and do all that work/life balance shit and maybe occasionally sleep, but if I get a prescription I am ok waiting 15 minutes for it.  God forbid it takes me 16 minutes, you have places to go, things to do, and drugs to consume, plus you have customers waiting in the parking lot.

The Posse

These people all seem pretty trying, don’t they?  Well imagine all of them coming together in a group.  Drug seekers aren’t solitary creatures, they tend to work together to try and beat the system.  They talk among themselves and when one person figures out a way to get what they want you often see several people pulling the same trick.

Addiction is a terrible problem, and it isn’t isolated to one race, class, group, or economic class.  There will always be addiction so maybe this was in bad taste, but if you walk into any pharmacy in the country you will find some of these folks.  There are many faces of addiction, and these are just a few of them.  I hope that this wasn’t in bad taste, but I was always told to write what I know and to speak the truth.


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