Doing A Real Job On Doing A Real Job

| NB, Canada | Working | October 3, 2013

(I have just gotten off of a split shift, during my second seven-day work week. My children have joined me for the last part of my second shift to help me out and we are heading home. It’s just after 8:30 pm, and I’ve been at it since 6 am. We go to the pharmacy next to my store to buy some ibuprofen, and I go up to the pharmacy desk to pay since the main cash has a huge lineup of people buying toilet paper and snack foods. After waiting about two minutes the pharmacy technician, who’s been looking at me and sighing deeply, finally comes to serve me.)

Employee: “Are you here to pick up a prescription?”

Me: “No, I’d just like to pay for these.”

Employee: *as she’s scanning my pills* “Okay, well this cash is only for prescription medication purchases. You should really have gone to the main cash.”

(I’ve often seen customers paying for everything from band aids to makeup at this cash without buying prescriptions, as long as they had some sort of medication with them from the pharmacy area where I picked up my pills.)

Me: “Oh, I’m sorry about that. I just assumed that you pay for medicine at the pharmacy counter. I’ll keep that in mind for next time.”

Employee: “Yeah, well we’re really busy you know, and this takes me away from doing all my work. Now it’s going to take me even longer to finish up and get out of here tonight.”

Me: “Again, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize. I work in retail myself, I know how frustrating it is when you’re busy and you have to stop to help a customer or coworker. It can be—”

Employee: “And you know, just because it doesn’t look like we’re doing anything, it doesn’t mean we’re not busy. We have a lot to do here and this is really annoying! You know, people are just leaving us with their prescriptions all the time.”

Me: “Well, that is your job but still I can understand—”

Employee: “When customers like you waste our time like this it’s really annoying. It’s going to take us even longer to finish up now.”

(The pharmacist finally hands me my change. My children are clinging to me nervously and the customers around me are all shuffling around awkwardly, trying not to look our way. I’ve had enough.)

Me: “Look, I’ve literally been working since 6am. I worked seven days in the last week, I have one day off this week, and I’ll be working from home, and then I work another seven days. I am exhausted, and I regularly have to stop what I’m doing to help my customers, coworkers and employees even when they really could have managed without me. I regularly have to work late or start early due to these interruptions, and my job is 90% physical work on the floor doing heavy lifting and going up and down ladders in a dusty stockroom. You are preaching to the choir here lady. And I’ll tell you, I have never spoken to a customer the way you just spoke to me, or made them feel guilty about coming in to shop and making me do my JOB! Thank you and good night.”

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