Drive Thru Requests

Every once in a while we’ll get an odd request in the drive-thru. It’s normally for some random one off item in the store. Although we are not obligated to one of us will leave the pharmacy and grab said item. (We we’re given a list of items that you can purchase via the drive thru which we will go get. Although we were instructed we are not obligated to get anything beyond that list we normally will anyway just to avoid a bad customer review.)

So my story takes place about an hour before close. Random SUV pulls up and driver asks I can get an OTC item so they don’t have to come in. I ask what it is and it was something I never heard of before. (Two things to keep in mind: 1st this would be the fourth time this evening that I was being asked for an oddity item 2nd the drive thru speaker system is showing its age.) After a few minutes exchange I finally figure out what they want and inform them I would have to venture on to the sales floor to look for it and would be a minute.

I was gone maybe 30 seconds and the instant I rounded the corner to be able to see out into the drive thru again the requester had pulled a David Copperfield (Disappeared) on me. Just up and gone. Normally I wouldn’t give a damn, but I had already put some effort into figuring out what they wanted and seeing if we had it and then the potential customer just peaced out on me. (I was in the middle of other tasks as well.) To say the least I was annoyed.

Rare is the time we get to go above and beyond the normal requirements of our job, but when one does it’s superbly annoying that one couldn’t deliver. Could care less about the recognition just hate having my time wasted. It happens enough with things I have little control over.


Use Your Words

Recently I’ve been struggling to find something to write about/be inspired by so I decided to pull another one out of my personal archives. On a side note apparently I have been doing this for a year now.

Another phenomenon that is becoming more prevalent in the pharmacy drive thru is patient’s not using their words. When the drive thru was put in one of the best directed speaker systems was also installed so as to minimize background noise and allow for ease of communication. Although it is over a decade old now, the technology has not degraded that much.

It is normally only isolated to a drop off situation, but when I ask, “How, can we help you?” some patients will give me a slight wave with a piece of paper in their hand. Now, I know this means that they are most likely dropping off a prescription, but since I assume nothing I will ask if you are. For all I know that paper being waved at me contains Minute Man Nuclear Missile Launch codes.

Ladies and gents it is a matter of respect for the people who are going to service you. I don’t go into a restaurant and just wave a piece at my server with my order on it. I communicate with words to convey what I desire. I expect the same from everyone else,

On a quick side note, we do have patients that are hearing impaired so using verbal language really isn’t an option. However, these patients are some of the best ones we have and communicate with us via an interpreter, written word, or when I have time through sign language. My skills are shotty at best, but given a minute I can coble a sentence or two together.

Can You Hear Me Now?

Previously I had mentioned that the speaker/mic in the driver through is of good quality. This is still true despite it’s age and the only thing that really messes with it is wind and obnoxiously loud noises. Despite its high quality I still struggle on a daily basis to hear patients in the drive thru.

I have probably wasted a couple hundred dollars in out of pocket expenses in doctors visits just to make sure that my hearing isn’t any worse than it already is. After consulting with my PCP and 3 different audiologists it has been determined that I do have diminished hearing, but nothing that should affect my ability to hear over a phone set or other transmission device. So with that in mind I have concluded that it is not my hearing to blame but the actions and/or inactions of the patients plus other factors outside of everyone’s control.

When communicating to someone via a drive thru please be aware of the environment around you both within your own vehicle and the immediate outdoor area in which you are. Before even speaking realize that if you have a loud vehicle either through the nature of a loud engine or poor maintenance you may need to shut it off for the time being. I can also suggest positing the engine area as far away from the speaker area as possible while still being able to direct yourself at it.  Your radio and phone should also be muted or preferably off. You can get back to your jams/call after completing business.

When speaking through the microphone make sure that your window is all the way down and that you are facing towards the speaker with nothing in your way. Make sure to speak clearly and by that I mean annunciate your words.  I will admit that I on occasion will muble through my own words, but normally it is because I am multitasking.

Externally please be aware that there are a few things that are both out of mine and your control. Other loud vehicles which may pass by or if they are in line behind you I will do my best to compensate as I expect the same from patients. Emergency vehicles will on occasion use their sirens. Again that too shall pass. There also exists the possibility that heavy machinery will be operated nearby. These are just a few examples I have experienced over my years. Most are just a temporary inconvience, but will require a break in conversation.

Let There Be Light

Over the past week or so I have noted at least three separate drivers whom forgot to turn their headlights on while driving at night. I won’t pontificate about the huge safety issue this creates especially when you are driving a vehicle dark in color. However, I will point out their severe lack of common sense.

Last I checked all vehicles from 2002 to current have an auto on/starlight feature. To clarify that your vehicle is equipped with a lumens censor and when the light from the sun fades enough they just turn on. Most modern street lights are equipped with this as a energy saving feature. Some vehicles like my truck have this as option while others don’t have a choice especially if your vehicles final assembly point was in Canada.

Armed with this knowledge I have to ask why this happens. Seriously, just set the switch to the auto feature and drive on. Never have to worry about your lights being on at the appropriate time ever. I also have to wonder how absent minded these drivers are on a regular basis not to notice their lights aren’t on. Even with the street lights and the light from other vehicles there is an inherent and noticeable difference with the light directly in front of your vehicle.

Full disclosure, I do not set my truck on automatic. Many moons ago I had the stock headlights swapped out for a set of higher lumen bi-xenon lights. The reason I do not use the auto feature is because there are three power level settings with the lowest being a day time running setting. Although they are robust bulbs and will run well beyond when I give up my truck I have no desire to beat up on them anymore than necessary. They were a pricy investment.

When in a drive-thru at night I will also turn them off so that only my running lights are on. My truck sits higher than most other peoples vehicles so as a courtesy I turn them off so as not to blind another driver with my lights.

The Drive-Thru

Right as I earned my drivers learners permit I started working at Burger King. After a few short months of sweating my ass off working the fryers I was trained to work the registers and shortly from there was put on the drive-thru as well. As enjoyable as it was to be out from behind the fryer I quickly learned that interacting with the public required different tactics and that the drive-thru was sometimes more of a punishment than a privilege.

During the summer and intermittently throughout the school year as breaks would allow I also worked construction. It is during that time that I would  help build the pharmacy where I would later work. While constructing the building I would see the prints and what I thought was just going to be a large bay window for the pharmacy because it was only the door and window overlay turned out to be the drive-thru.

Knowing the unique difficulties that drive-thru customers sometimes have or can create I felt prepared to deal with still having a drive-thru component. What I was not prepared for was people not treating the pharmacy was the modicum of respect it deserves, but having the same mentality of the get it done yesterday that the fast food drive-thru had. We will fill medications as quickly as possible for patients, but not at the sacrifice of safety.

Within the past year or so I have stopped trying to do the dumb ass dance of telling people how busy we are and I will try to do it quicker and now plainly state that this isn’t (insert randomly chosen fast food chain here). What’s worse is that the powers that be would rather us treat it like a fast food drive-thru.

When looking back the pharmacy drive-thru was created to help the patient who is in pain or has a disability that makes getting in and out of their vehicle a not so easy task. For the patient who has some sort of pathogen and doesn’t wish to infect the other patients and staff by coming inside. To these people I say a special thank you. And finally for those with children who are either asleep or are sick and bringing them inside probably isn’t a kosher idea. All of this I agree with and maybe a handful of other exceptions.

I’m going to bottom line this. Using the pharmacy drive-thru is a privilege not a right.