Friday, December 12, 2008

I can SEE why they sell liquor at the pharmacy,

Okay, it’s time that I face facts: I’m a snob. Hush, those of you who have known me for years. This isn’t a revelation to me, I’m just more of aware of it sometimes than others. Today just happened to be one of those days….

I was at The Pharmacy of Death ™ this afternoon, and in walks this couple.

Wait, I should back up a few. After a really awful summer, with Awful Things happening, the husband and I decided to take a winter off, and move the RV, the cat, the dogs and ourselves to Arizona for the winter. We had been looking at a variety of ‘snowbird’ destinations in California and Arizona when Gary’s aunt told us that we HAD to go to Fox’s Pierpoint in Parker, Arizona. She and her husband had been going there for literally decades until he passed away last year. So, going on nothing other than the aunt’s recommendation, I made a few phone calls, got a season-long reservation, and we officially became snowbirds. (Except for the fact that neither of us has grey hair, plays bingo, or owns our own golf cart, that is.)

Anyhoo,I made some calls to make sure that we are not ending up in some half-horse town like we did this summer (Stanley, ID, which, I might add, is a place we are going to return to, hopefully every summer, for at least a few weeks, because the place is breathtakingly gorgeous; it’s about a mile down the road from The Middle of Nowhere. The town has a bunch of river rafting/kayaking shops, one grocery store, 3 bars, and an odd little shop that seemed to be a general store of sorts, but always had really fresh lettuce – surprising, particularly in comparison to the rest of the produce. Anyway, no pharmacy, no hospital, no vet; if you needed help you could drive to Sun Valley (40 miles away), or, in case of drastic emergency, get life-flighted out of there. In spite of all of that, it is a gorgeous place, with fantastic mountain biking.) I determined that Parker had a ‘real’ grocery store (I say that now with regret and dismay; I hate Safeway with the intensity of a thousand suns), a ‘real’ pharmacy (to henceforth be known as The Pharmacy of Death ™, for reasons that will be explained shortly), and a vet. It all sounded good; all of our requirements were met, and we were golden.

And believe me, I was feeling all smug-like; not only had I found us season-long site (they were getting scarce in November), but I had located all the important amenities. I had even figured out how to get everything that we couldn’t get there shipped to us. We were so set, and this was going to be the most stress-free trip ever.

Have you ever noticed that sometimes those companies put more in the herbal tea than they are letting on? Or maybe that’s just me…. *ahem.

I’ll leave all the fun of actually getting here, finding our spot, and not having phone service or internet service for another time. Because I really need to meander my way back to The Pharmacy of Death™.

So after we’ve been in Parker for a day, I decide to go into town and drop off the, oh, let’s round down, and say 30 prescriptions that my husband has at the local ‘full service’ pharmacy. This is a big chain pharmacy, and they sell everything from nail polish to liquor. No, really. Apparently, in Arizona, pretty much anyone can sell liquor…. Seriously, I think the lady selling tamales outside of Safeway probably has a liquor license. Okay, maybe she doesn’t, but, well, I digress. I go to the counter of the actual pharmacy, and stand in line while the 2 people ahead of me (actually 3, because one of them had taken a seat – understandably, as I was to later see), are waited on. Much like the Post Office, there are 3 ‘Prescription Drop-Off’ counters , 8 people working behind the counter, and only one person actually serving customers. Cool.

I can’t really bitch about the amount of time that the people ahead of me spent at the counter, as the lady behind me probably plucked a piece of hair from my shirt and went home to her Do-It-Yourself Voodoo Doll Kit and has been plotting her revenge ever since. Because unlike a normal pharmacy, where you can just drop off your prescriptions, have them make a copy of your insurance card and pick up the prescriptions later, this place has the one employee hand-enter Every. Single. Prescription, while you stand there. You would think that there would be a plus to this, though. You would think. I mean, if I am standing there, explaining to the over-worked, under-paid employee, what the insurance will cover on every prescription, and when they can be filled, that the pharmacy staff would get it right. You would think.

Well, you would think wrong.

Having observed the equal level of efficiency on the “Prescription Pick-up” side of the counter, I decided to let the pharmacy take their time (since they had ALL the pertinent information), and I would waltz in, and pick up the prescriptions the next day, avoiding the interminable wait of the poor suckers who had dropped prescriptions off, and then honestly hoped to have them filled within some reasonable period of time, and were actually waiting for them. I was beginning to see why the waiting area of the pharmacy has A. Lot. Of chairs. But again, I digress.

With the woman who had been behind me in line muttering curses at me (at one point, I turned around and cheerfully pointed out that if I were her, I’d hate me; she didn’t find this funny), I left after the hour ordeal at the Prescription Drop-off counter. (Really, it was an hour. Gary has a copy of the text messages that I sent him, that start off with: “This looks like it could take a while”, then move on to: “This is death” and finally end with “I think I may scoop my eyeballs out with the Infant Medication Measuring Spoon” .)

The next day, I returned , full of confidence that I would not be one of the people doomed to the outer ring of the fifth circle of hell (devoted to those customers who have lost patience, and have finally begun hurling invectives – and Infant Medication Measuring Spoons – at the pharmacy employees), also known as the Everlasting Hell Fires of CVS).

Alas, it was not to be so. When I did get to the counter, the technician came back with a handful of paperbags. And started to ring them up; $25.00, $328.06, $197.57…. woah. I stopped her and asked her what the huge charges were for. “Well, the insurance didn’t cover these…” I sighed. No shit. The hour long discussion the day before was designed, I had hoped, to prevent this. Clearly not. So, I had to go back through the list, and explain what I needed to pick up, and what the insurance would cover.

Cool. We got it all sorted out. Except that when I left the store, I didn’t get the two prescriptions that I had explained I needed to pick up, but wouldn’t be fully covered by the insurance. Of course, being the on-top-of-it kind of person that I am, I didn’t actually notice this until I had made the 11 mile drive home. And had to deal with yet another pharmacy employee on the phone, to explain what it was that I really needed. I drove back. And in one shining moment, I actually had what I needed.

Okay. Cool. I assumed I had the system figured out; I just need to call in advance, tell them exactly what I needed, and what the insurance would/wouldn’t cover, and my life would be back to the peace and harmony that I had been hoping for.


*ahem. Clearly, I am a dumbass. Or just insane. (Isn’t the definition of insanity something like doing the same actions over and over again and expecting different results? Yeah….)

Now being an all-on-top-of-it kind of chick, I called the pharmacy yesterday, a day before I was going to pick up two prescriptions, one of which is never fully covered by the insurance (the prescription is for 30 pills/30 days; the insurance coves 14 pills for 22 days…), and explained the insurance issues. I also explained that while my husband had two prescriptions for one medication, they were actually different dosage levels, and while I had picked up the one dosage level a week ago, I wanted to pick up the other dosage level. The technician kept saying “yes, I understand”. Which is a fatal flaw in my reasoning. I SHOULD have remembered from the days in Saudi Arabia that “yes I understand” simply means “I understand you are speaking English, and I have heard these words before.” It does NOT mean “I actually understand what you want to do, and I have the ability to competently complete this task”. Again, did I mention that I’m a bit of a dumbass?

I get to the pharmacy, march confidently up to the “Pick-up” window, and am told that they have to run the prescription through the insurance, and it will be “a while.” I feel the River Styx licking at my toes. But I have grocery shopping to do (which is why I stop at the pharmacy first), so that’s fine. But since she said “the prescription” – as in singular – I remind her that I have another one. And that the insurance is only going to cover part of it, and I only want what the insurance will cover. “Okay. It will be a while.” Again… “Okay” = “I heard you. I’m not going to do anything about it, but I heard you.” Like a dumbass, I go grocery shopping.

And 45 minutes later (the grocery store is ANOTHER story…. And a first for me; the cashier rung/rang/??? (Why didn’t I pay more attention to conjugating?) up the groceries of the person behind me in line with mine. Fixing that problem was another adventure. I actually tried to just ‘give’ the lady behind me her groceries so I wouldn’t have to stand in a customer service line to get a refund, but she wouldn’t let me impart a little Christmas kindness. $31.07? Would have been worth avoiding the aggravation, but it did it kill some time. I guess. Still, I wouldn't have been crushed at avoiding that entertainment. Again, another story for another time) I go back to the Pharmacy of Death. Maybe I should rename it to Dante’s Pharmacy…. Hmm…

I wait in line, and hey! They actually have the prescription for me. Like a popped balloon, my elation whooses out of me. The. Prescription. I ask her about the other prescription. “They didn’t quite get to that yet. It’ll be a little while, still.”

And so I sit down, joining the other Damned Souls, and wait. And wait. And wait. Literally, 23 minutes later (I timed it, as, like the other lost souls, it was that, or read the tabloids; I was actually almost starting to care why Brittney was on a ‘dangerous diet’), I got the other prescription. Both of them. Woo-hoo!

*whew. And after that, I don’t have the energy to tell you about the other damned souls, and why I’m such a snob. I’ll save that for later. Time to go shoot the cat (with insulin) and see about rustling up some dinner.

All of that said, I can see why they sell liquor at the pharmacy. I'm beginning to think mainlining Wild Turkey might be the only way to survive the experience...

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