Seven pages left, warehouse order and PSE needing to be shelved, and an onslaught of waiters still coming in.

Doom and gloom normally permeates the air during the last hour of any retail pharmacy before closing.

Pure Chaos and Defeat

The tales that people tell about retail pharmacy revolve around wild and rude patients, snapping at the technicians and yelling at pharmacists.

And they’re all true.

The last hour before closing is a breeding ground for these hostile patients, full of woes and trouble.

I call this “party time” where patients like to pre-game by sipping on all our misery.

The lines become long, the work piles up, and everything on the screen is bleeding, filling up the pharmacy team’s mental state with anxiety.

The pressure of needing to get everything done on time weighs too much, and it breaks their spirits.

“There’s not enough time to do everything,” the techs mutter under their breaths as they take it out on the patients.

Every recourse between tech and patient is on the verge of hostile outbreak.

With sullen faces and defeated demeanor, this pharmacy team grudgingly serves the patients at tortoise-like speeds.

The only autonomy they have in their jobs are these small acts of rebellion against the company’s brand image.

All the while, they glance at the clock every 10 minutes to see that only 5 have passed.

They’ve had enough, and someone announces the last call for prescription waiters.

The thought of possibly extending past closing and working off the clock boils some people’s blood.

“Sorry,” they say. “We can’t take anymore prescriptions tonight.”

There’s still an hour left before closing.

Not At My Pharmacy

But not my team of rock stars.

The imminent danger of prescriptions going past due doesn’t paralyze my technicians.

The bleeding queue racks up to 7 pages, but those 100 patients aren’t in front of us right now.

At first sight of the next patient, we drop our spatulas, our 90 count, and greet them unconditionally.

Patients first, no matter what.

There’s no pharmacy business without the customers we have.

Our patients mean everything to us, and they get 100% of our attention.

Even if we get interrupted 5 times before finishing a 30 count, we still deliver world-class service at lightning speed.

What an honor it is to work besides such caring, beastly professionals.

Resilient As Ever

Of course, the onslaught still approaches, with patient after patient coming to drop off prescription waiters.

We hit 15 waiters in the queue, and our patients aren’t allowed to leave the vicinity.

That’s one page of bright yellow lines blinding our retinas and a lot of patients staring, watching how we handle this chaos.

It doesn’t matter that it’s T-30 minutes until the gates close.

The first and the 15th waiter gets the same cheerful exclamation, “Waiter up!”

Now, the entire queue is yellow. What a relief from all the orange.

The next thirty minutes is full of hand-offs, bottle tosses, musical workstations, and high fives.

The best thing about all this last hour of ridiculousness?

Filling every single prescription on time without the patients even knowing what craziness goes on behind the counter.

Growth mindset, baby.

We live to serve another day.