I got off the bus to be greeted by my mother who was waiting in our Honda Accord. “Hurry up Sam, you’re going to be late to your interview,” cried my mother as I hurriedly stepped in to the car and fastened my seatbelt. It was early March but the bite of the winter air made it feel as if it were still January. As we zoomed off, my mother handed me a bottle of gel and told me that I should at least look presentable for my interview at Walgreens Pharmacy. My mother knew full well that I didn’t want to work for Walgreens and I only agreed to take the interview because I was in desperate need of a job.
My sister was enrolled in the pharmacy program at UW and also worked for Walgreens. I did not want people to think that I was following in her footsteps. My interests at the time were in computers and network security, and thought that pharmacy was a job only suitable for women and more feminine men. I never thought that in the months to come that I would come to truly enjoy my work and wanted to build a career in this field. I arrived five minutes early and was shown to the lobby. My interview was scheduled at 4:30 pm and was told by the secretary that the supervisor was visiting a different store and would be arriving shortly.
I waited patiently in the silence of the lobby which was only disturbed by the clicking of the secretary’s keyboard as she busily did her work. The time was now nearing 5:00 pm and there was still no sign of my potential boss. I began to feel foolish and began wondering if I had been mistaken and my interview was set at a different time, or possibly even a different day. While still deep in thought, a sharply dressed middle-aged women stepped in with a frantic look on her face. She glanced around in panic realizing that she was nearly forty-five minutes late for an interview that she had set up.
She apologized and introduced herself as Sepi, the Pharmacy Supervisor for the Seattle District. She led me into her office which was rather small and shared with another supervisor. The interview did not last ten minutes and I was hired on the spot. She congratulated me and I left with the feeling that she only hired because she was sorry for being late. After all the paper work, I began my training at a Walgreens branch on Evergreen Way in central Everett. I was greeted by a very tall Chinese man who had blistered lips and unkempt hair.
He introduced himself as Kelvin, the pharmacy manager, and began showing me around the pharmacy. There were three other pharmacy technicians who were busily working and only stopped briefly to shake my hand before returning to work. I felt that I had stepped in to chaos and my beliefs that pharmacies operated in a lazy pace soon evaporated in my mind. The loud clicking sound of the Baker Cells dispensing medication and the voices of impatient customers filled the air adding to the existing chaos of frantic technicians and pharmacists trying their best to get customers out of there.
With all thoughts of easy work gone, I was immediately put to use and began filling prescriptions as they steadily printed out of the computer. The rush lasted for another two hours and it seemed an eternity when things finally began to slow down. I tried my best to get acquainted with the other technicians who I would be working with and began my training. They began telling me about how lucky I was to have my training done there and that after my training was over, any other store would be a piece of cake.
Before I began my training I had no idea that this pharmacy was the most notorious of the district. Being the only 24 hour pharmacy from Everett to Bellingham, we attracted the worst of patients throughout the night. With the busiest emergency room only minutes away, we would get slammed by wave after wave of welfare patients demanding their narcotic pain killers. Though we were all very aware that the majority of these patients were in very little pain or no pain at all, our job was to take their prescription and give them their medication. I received my first complaint my second day on the job.
I had just finished selling a prescription to a couple when out of nowhere, she accused me of stealing her credit card. Though I specifically remembered handing back her credit card, she continued calling me a lying thief. The managers came over to see what the commotion was about and asked her to either calm down or leave. Realizing that nobody believed her, she stormed out in a rampage. I was told later on that the patient had mental issues and caused scenes like this on a regular basis. The psychotic lady filed a complaint against me to the district office but was let off with no reprimanding whatsoever.
Two long weeks later, my training was complete and I had grown somewhat accustomed to working at a pharmacy as demanding as it could get. Kelvin offered me a job position there with a very flexible schedule. I took the job and continued working there. Working there, I found a newfound respect for what a pharmacist does. While verifying and filling prescriptions, the pharmacist must also give medical advice to patients. One day I found myself no longer as interested in computers. My computer had not been opened up and I had not changed out a part in six months.
Realizing that the market for computers were slow anyway, I decided to change to pharmacy. I had begun to become frustrated with computers and their ever-changing technology. Moreover, I truly started to enjoy working in a pharmacy despite the angry customers. The work was relatively easy and the pay was decent. I began by asking the various pharmacists that I work with about their opinion about their job. The pharmacists were for the most part happy about their jobs, and the only complaints that they had were having to work for eight hours without a lunch and not having anytime to sit down.
I’ve been working for Walgreens for close to a year now and am still looking forward to becoming a pharmacist. I’ve worked as a computer and network technician and cannot imagine myself working in front of a computer twenty years from now. Nor can I imagine myself typing computer codes for ten hours a day. Working in the pharmacy for me has been an almost enlightening experience for me. I have begun to pursue a career in which I had previously never had a second thought of. The demand for pharmacists in the U. S. is higher than ever and I hope to be one who succeeds in meeting this call.