Since it is Easter Sunday and since I had to work the weekend leading up to today but thankfully not including today I will share what I consider to be my top ten reasons why I truly hate working a holiday or the weekend surrounding a holiday. It can create new and exciting problems that can irritate and frustrate the best of pharmacists. So here it is, my top ten reasons why I hate working around a major holiday:
1. Everyone else is off work! It’s not really true. Not EVERYONE else is off work when you are stuck working close to or on a holiday but it can seem that way as you are driving in on empty roads to go to work. Opening on time in the morning only to have no one show up as a customer for at least an hour into your shift doesn’t help either. And I’ll inevitably get that call from my brother where he tells me about the fun things he is doing on his day off. Thanks brother!
2. Inventory Challenges. What is it about a holiday coming up soon that brings out all of the people needing that special order drug or the fast mover you just ran out of on a fluke. It will happen to you if you work close to a major holiday and you will most likely not have your normal supplier ordering schedule in place to be able to replenish your depleted supply. Ah, let the good times roll!
3. Red’s Theory. I will call this next one “Red’s Theory” or an alternate name is “The Theory of Douchebagtivity” which is something I came up with in pharmacy school working as a technician. This is a simple theory that states the amount of time you actually have available as a pharmacist at work on any given day to deal with douche bag customers and patients is inversely proportional to the actual frequency you will encounter such problem people. This means that at the time before a holiday when you are the busiest and have the least amount of time to play games or humor one of those “special” customers you are almost guaranteed to actually see one of them walk through your front door with at least two problems for you. My theory is still as of now unpublished but I think you will find that it holds true in practice.
4. Resident Follies. For some reason the residents at your local teaching hospital will somehow completely forget even basic rules regarding how to write a prescription. They will make every error imaginable on their prescriptions for patients at the worst possible times for you to try and hunt them down for a clarification (which isn’t easy in the best of times). They will leave off drug strengths (or make up new ones), forget to mention directions, leave off quantities, and forget to sign those controlled medication prescriptions. It is as if they revert back to some primitive state where writing prescriptions is not one of the basic skills you need for survival!
5. Procrastination Station. I love the board game Monopoly. I have always enjoyed playing it and I’m pretty good at it too! And if there was a board square that was named after customers and patients the average pharmacist deals with before any major holiday it would probably be called ” Procrastination Station” because that is exactly what the customers do when they know a major holiday is coming. If you are the pharmacist on duty the day before a holiday you are almost scientifically guaranteed to see a customer walk in the door that is completely out of one of the following categories of medications: asthma medication including inhalers, insulin, birth control, or erectile dysfunction medications. Now while I only consider the first two of those previously mentioned categories to actually be life threatening it is the later two categories that will be what the patients that come in and are acting like they will die if they don’t get what they want. And to make it even more interesting you will either be out of stock or the patient will be out of refills. It is so much fun I can’t even describe it.
6. Limited Support Staff. You are not going to have additional staff on the days before a major holiday. Just like weekend shifts you will be working with bare bones staffing and that doesn’t even account for the “call in sick” factor. And if there is a run of customers that short staffing will put a strain on those of you that are stuck working. You aren’t working with a full deck of cards on these days and that can create a lot of challenges. And mark my words you will have that run at the end of your day when it is less than an hour before closing so what staff you do have will be running around like mad to try and help everyone so we can all go home on time.
7. Beautiful Weather. It’s like God himself is somehow mocking you. It will be a gorgeous day outside and everyone will remind you about how nice it is as you are stuck there in the pharmacy working away the day. Birds may even leave you “gifts” on your vehicle as you finally get to walk out to your car after work. It is a cruel joke that not only are you working when so many others get to enjoy the day but when that day is actually nice and sunny it adds insult to injury! Bonus point awarded if you work at a pharmacy location that has a drive-thru window in place with a big window that you can look out and see for yourself just how nice a day you are missing!
8. Breakfast is for suckers! Inevitably if I am working a holiday or the days leading up to a holiday I am not as motivated to get up and go through the routine of getting ready for work. This means I will sleep in a little bit later than normal and something will have to be cut out of my morning routine before leaving for work. Inevitably it is breakfast that gets cut out of the morning agenda if I am running late. Is it smart to skip breakfast before going into work? No. Does it happen sometimes? Yes!
9. I’ll take hardware or software problems for $100. What is the things that I will almost certainly see at least once during the day. Sorry, I thought I was on Jeopardy for a moment. It seems those printers, that wonderful computer system, or even the register you ring up customers on will decide to take its own version of a holiday right in the middle of your shift. And forget tech support, they will be short staffed too if you dare to try and call them for help! Please hold, you call is important!
10. Refill too soon rejects. You didn’t actually think that insurance companies would take it easy on you because it is Good Friday or The 4th of July? Nothing says I’m having fun at work more than trying to process a prescription claim for a patient and getting back the reject stating “Refill too soon, may fill on or after December 25th” which of course is one of the rare days my pharmacy actually closes! Really Medco, that is the day you decide you’ll pay for a claim? On Christmas? You couldn’t ok that Allegra (allergy medication) one day earlier considering what happens to fall on December 25th every year? Ah the joys of retail pharmacy!
And there it is in all its glory. My top ten reasons why it is not fun to work anywhere close to a major holiday. I hope you enjoyed this list and I hope everyone has a Happy Easter!
The Redheaded Pharmacist