Saturday, September 25, 2010

New York Stories, Part VI

As you learned from Part V, I moved back to WPB in November of 1996 after a very unfruitful few months. Coming back was difficult: no job, no car, no apartment. I moved in with my grandmother. Listless days. I often walked to the movies. Funny, I can remember what I saw during that time: THE CHAMBER, ROMEO & JULIET, THE MIRROR HAS 2 FACES, SET IT OFF, and RANSOM. I had nothing but time. I bought a car a month later and started a new job a few weeks after.

But, backing up, I must explain the dire job situation during my field trip to NYC. Before I moved there (which had been planned quite a bit in advance), I had lined up a job with a nursing home pharmacy way out in Hollis, Queens. Yes, the place where Run D.M.C. came from. A co-worker in FL had previously worked there, and she was my reference. I would also have one unremarkable date with her 3 years later back in FL, but that's another tale.

I had worked in nursing home/institutional pharmacies for years. I wore several hats: marketing to Directors of Nursing and administrators, inputting and filling Rxs as a tech, delivering meds at night. My experience and refs. got me this new position. Also, the Director in Queens was impressed that I could perfectly mimic a rather interesting cackle that this other pharamacist I had worked with did. Said pharmacist once also worked with the director.

I was living in the hovel I spoke of in Manhattan. Getting to Hollis was time consuming. I had to take the F train all the way to the end of the line: Jamaica/179th Street. THEN I had to walk another mile or so. Only to be greeted by...a dingy retail store and even dingier area behind it, where the scripts for our accounts (rehabs, other facilities) were filled. This set up was similiar to the one in which I had toiled in Lantana, FL years earlier. The counter area where the medications were filled was a disgrace. The trash recepticles seemed to always be overflowing. Co-workers? Abrupt. None could understand why someone from South Florida would want to come to Queens. I got the same baffled look from tech and pharmacist alike. Within hours, I wondered much the same.

There was no room to work. There were too many bodies. The pharmacist to tech ratio surely would've interested the State Board of Pharmacy. This was not new to me; back in the FL office several of us frequently had to run out the back door when inspectors came a calling. The pharmacist out front would hit a hidden buzzer, alerting us when one of these guys or gals arrived. Ridiculous. But, too many techs and too few phramacists meant fines and citations. The Queens hellhole also had swarms of pharmacy students interning from nearby Long Island University. It was a struggle to breathe in there. Accuracy of orders seemed almost left to chance.

Then there was this one pharmacist. He at first glance seemed like a decent guy. He looked about 20 (he wasn't), what with his torn jeans, sport jersey and baseball cap. No one dressed up in this place, but he looked like he should be on a sofa watching football, face down in a bowl of Fritos rather than checking med orders. I mean, I used to carp about having to wear ties all the time, but geez! He also quickly revealed himself to be a bit psychotic. On my third and final day, he was screaming that we weren't filling orders fast enough. Screaming. A pill bottle or 2 went flying. I recall him even counting,1-2-3, like people in movies do before they threaten to shoot you if you don't answer their questions. I had seen some embarrassing behavior from pharmacists before (telephones and books hurling across rooms, fists through doors, lewd commentary) but this was especially alarming for some reason. I would see even worse behavior the following year, from an even more psychotic pharmacist, but, you know....

That third day I watched the clock obsessively. Every painful minute. The longest afternoon I've ever had. I had never had the desire to bolt from anywhere like I had that day. I stuck it out, at 5 O'clock feeling like a millstone had been removed. As I rode the train back, I thought how reckless an act it was to quit a gig without having something else lined up, especially in New York. It didn't matter. I had to get outta that place. I took the chickenshit route and left a phone message announcing my resignation for them that night. I never set foot in the place again. I only felt guilty about it for a few minutes.

A few days later, I traded one ten cent job for another one.......

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