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In Which I Get All Sanctimonious and Then Regret It

I’m a pharmacy scheduler for a drug store chain, and it’s my responsibility to make sure pharmacist’s vacations and requests off are covered in my district, including sick days and other call-outs. I knew the snow we got last Wednesday night was going to be an issue on Thursday, so when I got the first call at 7 am, I was nice but pretty much said, “the store has to open, so you need to try to get there.” Luckily, her pharmacy partner had a 4-wheel drive, and she went in instead with no problem.

But as the day wore on, more calls and complaints came in, including questions like, “I had a hard time getting in today, how do I call out next time?” 

You don’t! You had a week’s notice that this snow was coming! You could have gotten a room in town last night. You’re a pharmacist, and you make a lot of money, in part because of your expertise and in part because you are essential personnel. The pharmacy can’t legally open without you – there will be customers who need your help today. You should have planned better.

It’s stressful for me when I get call-outs I know I can’t cover, and I got a little more irritated with each situation. More than once I found myself saying to my boss or to a pharmacist whose partner didn’t show up, “If I knew I had to be at work today, I would have been there.”

And it’s true. I have driven to work in the snow, and left in the snow. Sleet, rain, ice? No problem. I’ve worked through tropical storms and even a hurricane once (in a Virginia gets side-swiped kind of way, but it was still scary). I’ve never missed a day at this job because of weather.

Until Friday.

I figured I’d be okay to get out of the driveway by 1 or so on Friday afternoon, which would have been fine. And failing that, I didn’t really need to get out until Saturday afternoon when I had to babysit, and I could stop at a store and do the payroll then.

But an 11 am conference call was sprung on me, and I’d need to be on my work computer to take it. I should have just said “I can’t make that,” but after all my big talk, I felt like I had to. I said I’d be at work if I had to be, no matter what the weather conditions. So I had to back that up with effort.

And shortness of breath. And sore arms. And back pain.

After two snowfalls, each followed by freezing rain, I had a driveway full of deep, crusty snow to get over. And my driveway is long. It was just too deep for my undercarriage, and the crust so thick and unyielding that I couldn’t push through.

So I shoveled. And shoveled.

Damn my big mouth. “If I had to be at work today, I’d make it in no matter what.”

Man I wished I could suck back a lotta words on Friday.

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If I had it to do differently, I’d have parked at the bottom of the driveway on Wednesday night. 

Oh yeah, and I wouldn’t have been so holier-than-thou. 🙂

Knowing that I didn’t have to work on Thursday (or even Friday if I couldn’t get out) made it really easy for me to be judgy about those pharmacists who didn’t plan ahead themselves. Even if they thought in the back of their minds that they’d just get a free snow day, that’s no excuse for me to act so superior.

Irony: When I came in the house to get on the call (humbly, with the expectation of a “weather isn’t an excuse” talking down for not making it in to the office) there wasn’t anyone on it. The call had been cancelled.

Have you ever regretted some big talk?


16 Comments Post a comment
  1. Ricky Anderson #

    Holy. McFoot.

    That’s a lot of snow.

    I live in the desert. We don’t get many snow days. I wonder how the schedulers fare out here when saying, “Get to work anyway.” They’re probably laughed at. And that’s when we get an inch of snow. Wow.

    February 17, 2014
    • Yeah, and I didn’t get as much as some areas.

      Mostly it was people not planning ahead. The 7am lady’s husband was off so there was no day care issue, so she could have stayed in town. She just didn’t think of it is all. She told me the night before that they wouldn’t plow her street very early, and I didn’t think about a room either. We are not experienced snow people, that’s for sure!

      February 17, 2014
  2. They cancelled the call – perfect.

    February 17, 2014
    • I know! If I’d just waited, I wouldn’t have had to shovel anything.

      February 17, 2014
  3. I regret my big talk every day.
    As far as the snow, I think people have realized this year that the weather has just been bad and if that means stores are closed and some services are unavailable, that’s just the way it is. We didn’t have trash pickup for 3 weeks. One miss was because of MLK Day and another was because the city wouldn’t let them go out in 45-below wind chills. Although it started getting tough to get through a garage full of garbage that last week, it’s still better than someone dying on the job because of the weather. Hopefully your bosses at the big chain would see it that way too…

    February 17, 2014
    • I sounded a little harsh, but it was more about being open at some point for our patients, certainly not being reckless on the roads to get there on time. But being available for patients mostly for maintenance prescriptions. I can think of a lot of reasons why they couldn’t pick a refill up before the snow, including that the insurance won’t let you fill it until a specific day. We would give people a few pills to tide them over, but most people don’t know that. And sometimes they just don’t have the money until a certain day. It’s a really distressing thing when someone comes in to get an rx they need for pain maintenance or to keep them alive, and the pharmacy is closed so they can’t get it.

      February 21, 2014
  4. Good story! I’ve always made it a point to live near the two schools where I’ve taught. Most teachers live out in the suburbs and drive in. I hate commuting. Through the years, days when it snowed but schools stayed open were my own personal nightmare because of all the teachers who called in rather than make the drive. If schools are open the kids will show up. One year it started snowing on the drive in to work. My car was slipping and sliding all over the freeway, and I couldn’t believe schools were staying open. One of the local news stations erroneously announced that schools were closed, then retracted their misstatement, and chaos ensued. A lot of teachers didn’t come to work. Out of four first grade classes, only one teacher (ME) showed up to work. I spent the day with about 60 first graders crammed into my classroom watching movies all day. Sounds like an easy day, right? Wrong! One adult, 60 six year olds. That was one day I regretted living so close to my school!

    February 17, 2014
    • See the thing about that is you have to wonder why those other teachers didn’t care enough to come in. Obviously all those kids got to the school, so how bad could the roads have been? Same thing here. I can’t help but look at things from a manager standpoint, and I have always felt a large amount of ownership over my business. For us, I just can’t imagine a pharmacist knowing that they will be needed and not showing up. And they get very well compensated for their expertise, but also part of that is they are business professionals and the expectations for them are higher than for a kid making eight or nine dollars an hour. In our case, the rph’s that didn’t come in didn’t do it from just not wanting to be there, they were legitimately snowed in (though they didn’t plan ahead for that possibility). But for you to be there alone with SIXTY kids? I wonder how many of those teachers could have made it in, but just didn’t want to deal with it?

      February 21, 2014
      • Even more shocking was when the teachers who stayed home that day lobbied the district to have the day declared an official snow day so they wouldn’t have one of their sick days taken away. That’s when I pretty much lost it. Needless to say, the district didn’t agree with them and they lost a sick day.

        February 23, 2014
        • Yeah, that’s what I mean – they just wanted a free day off. Not thinking or caring about what’s the right thing to do. It’s just not nice.

          February 23, 2014
          • I never trusted them again, either.

            February 23, 2014
  5. Snowier Than Thou,
    I’m always talkin big . . . The trick is to go so over the top, back tracking won’t work.

    Find a local Sports store who will do a groupon for essential personnel – Cross Country Ski packages for everyone. Title your mailing “Snow Days Are No Longer An Option” throw in a Sochi Olympics clip and do a little voice over. When the athlete drops and shoots a target say, “Pharmacists push themselves beyond mere mortals to get where they need to be to deliver the bullet (then cross out) fill that prescription.

    Then you could close by saying thanks to everyone who made it in and how you have checked asked around for snow rates at hotels near pharmacies, what kind of pet policies they have and if “bring your dog to work day” has FDA approval in snow storm situations (don’t actually ask the FDA). 🙂

    February 18, 2014
    • Haha! See, that’s the only real issue is child care or pet care. If the school is closed, etc, then what would you do? It’s interesting that the people who called out didn’t have that issue though – it was all about the streets not being plowed. One guy lives out in the country, so I can relate to that, obviously. But if I had known I really had to be there on Friday, then I would have stayed in town. I don’t think I have the stamina to ski all the way to work though!!

      February 21, 2014
  6. ROFL! I hate to laugh at your situation, but that was funny. Not funny you had to shovel your way down the driveway, Not funny, that you stood your ground, but funny that with all of your hard work and determination the conference call was cancelled! God has a funny way of putting us back into our place!

    I have to admit I will not drive in cruddy weather, however, if I was someone that had other people lives in my hands, yes, I would do everything I could do to get there!

    February 18, 2014
    • Yes he does! I drive in whatever weather is happening to get to my store job, but I don’t live in those crazy mountains like you do! And I think it’s about the job too, because you and I (in the office job) can do our jobs at any time kind of – any day, morning or afternoon. It doesn’t matter when, just that we get it done. I don’t think it would be important for ZB to be open after a big snow. Though you know people will get bored or tired of the kids and drive around just to get out of the house, so why not be open? If all those other people can get out and around safely, then are employees just using it as an excuse to be off? As for me, I need the money!!

      February 21, 2014
      • Good point. I can see both sides of the situation. 🙂

        February 21, 2014

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