Another “Fresh Meat” Story. You Girls Should Pray For This. Handle it Right and You Can Retire Right Now!

When I get a ten o’clock phone call from a twenty-something pharmacist complaining that her non-pharmacist assistant store manager will not stop touching her, I know exactly what to tell her. If you don’t want to be touched, it is illegal.

            A few weeks ago, she followed with, “What should I do?”

            Ten o’clock is passed my bedtime.  Does she expect me to be generous?  She is a PharmD and a Mississippi Registered Pharmacist.  She should be able to handle this one all by herself.  I reminded her that harassment, sexual or otherwise, is illegal.

Of greater consequence for all female pharmacists is that her company forbids this kind of behavior.   A female who is sexually harassed by a supervisor can practically own the place if the company looks the other way.  It is that serious.

When a technician was fired awhile back, she called me to help her get her final paycheck.  Why me?  I am just the guy in Drug Topics magazine.  I am not an attorney.  Chasing final paychecks is not what I do.

“Why do you think I can help you get your money?”

“Well, my cousin is a pharmacist and he says that you are nice.”

What the?  “Why can’t your cousin get your money for you?”  There was a long silence and then a soft sob. I said, “Are you crying?”

“I need the money.  My manager said that they don’t have to pay me because I was fired.  They pay right away when people quit.”

She was right about where power lies. Drug Topics got her the money forthwith.  All I did was make a brief phone call and ask a couple questions.

It is not so easy when I get an E-Mail such as this one.   It was the last of a months’ long string of E-Mails from an ex-Rite-Aid R.Ph. in Beaumont, Texas.  He was a legacy pharmacist with years of service and that made him expensive.  He was earning top wage.  He was maxed out on vacations and benefits.  It appears that Big Stupid saw low hanging fruit that was overly ripe.  They picked him off, fired him and that was that.  I doubt that the executives in Camp Hill considered that there is a human being with a story in Beaumont.  This pharmacist had been writing to me for months, asking for help.  There is little that I can do for him.  A single father, with a young boy, living in a south-east Texas town that is driven by the hot urban rhythms of the 21st Century needs a paying job for goodness sake.

He worked at a good paying pharmacist job for decades.  Look in his rear-view mirror and the only reason given for his firing is: You are not a good fit. What?  It took Rite-Aid more than a decade to figure that out?  Well, ten years ago there wasn’t a whole mob of new pharmacists aching to work at our guy’s job for ten dollars less per hour.  You think they like it?  Hell no.  They got into this game to earn the same as the legacy practitioners got.

As long as there are new graduate RPh robo-dispensers willing to work cheap, I fear for legacy pharmacists who have pricey skills that have been built over decades, but are perceived to be redundant in a retail culture that puts all the value on cheap wages, slam bam prescriptions sold per hour and  compliant, baby-faced pharmacists.

During the past 3 years or so, I have read a plethora of E-Mails and Blog Posts about legacy firings. Not just Rite-Aid.  There have been incidents all over the retail map.  Corporations sacking experienced, loyal, company-minded employees just to slash overhead.   It was like insects singing on a hot summer night.  Too easy to ignore.

I have not wanted to hear the message boiling in the wind. Your skills are no longer relevant, Plagakis. You are like the comic wearing a fat suit. I have no doubts that I could easily be one of the fresh fruit waiting to be picked. I get sick to my stomach when I think that people with consummate retail pharmacist skills like Judy Haas, Roy Bleisath and our own Goose could be sacrificed to the 21st Century retail pharmacy profit gods.

This is new for me.  I can’t get behind the idea that what I bring to the table can be marginalized just like that.  How about you?  Are you so important that they will keep you in that spot until YOU decide to move on?



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