Friday, December 30, 2005

The nightmare that is known as Kaiser Pharmacy

I spent about 2 hours at the Fremont Kaiser Pharmacy last night. I needed to get a prescription filled, and because of my doctor being out for a over a week (I did not know this until yesterday, when I finally called to confirm that my suspicions were correct), another doctor giving a new prescription number, and no one informing me of what was going on (I had to call the 1-888 Kaiser line to talk to a customer service rep), I had to hightail it to the pharmacy after work to submit my prescription request by letting them know I was there.

This whole process still baffles me, so this time I went into the "drop-off" line to let them know I was there, and the lady looked at me like I was crazy, swiped my Kaiser card after I said something about a prescription getting filled, and she said they'd call my name. I knew I was in for a long wait, probably an hour tops, so I ran to the bathroom and then came back to get settled with my book.

The past two times I've had to get my refill this way instead of through the mail, I was put through different processes. The first time I went through the regular line, was told they're filling it now, and I would be called when it was ready. This happened. Didn't take too long, and I got to skip the long regular line. The second time, I did the same thing, was given a slip of paper and that was that. I didn't know if I was going to be called, or if my name would be on the board or what. So I waited and waited and waited, and it hit about an hour later and my name popped up on the board. I got back in the regular line to pay for my prescription.

So last night I figured my name would pop up on the board. And if not, then someone would call me. But I was betting on being called. Thirty minutes, then an hour....Nothing. So I got back in line and told the guy that my name hasn't been called nor was my name on the board, but it's been over an hour. He looked up my name and then started scribbling stuff on a piece of paper. He said he'd call me. So I sat for another 20-30 minutes. My name was finally called.

During this fun time at the pharmacy, I got to witness several bizarre human interactions. The first weird one involved myself, and it wasn't so much weird as just plain annoying. Like a BART story annoying. Out of all the seats to sit in, this lady who smelled like garlic or some other seasoning, decided sitting next to me and using the arm rest I was using (we both get two, I was there first, you use your other arm rest, lady) while talking of the phone was the best idea ever. Not only did she smell weird and I really wanted to move but decided not to because I'd just end up next to another annoying person, and not only was she using the same arm rest so it looked like we knew each other well, but she was leaning towards me while talking on her cell phone, which was planted on her ear next me. Yet again, another person who feels the need to talk next to a person who wants to read. Luckily she was talking in another language. Since I couldn't understand her, her talking was just white noise. And I do love my white noise.

Then there was the man who couldn't speak English very well, but insisted on driving this older white couple crazy with his questions they couldn't understand. He was almost hostile. Like he was the king of the world, and these two wrinkly and shaky old folks were brought to him for his amusement. It started off with the older man wearing a Nebraska jacket. For the University. Which is bright red and not hard to miss. The man started asking him if he likes Nebraska, and after many, "whats," they got that he was asking about the school or team, I'm not sure which. The older man made the folly of saying he lived there. This got the other man all wild and crazy with questions for some reason, asking him if they know and like certain people. Finally the older lady took control and said she's a Californian native and he hasn't been to Nebraska for 20 years.

Then the man started asking them what sounded like, "How are you?" The older man kept saying "what?" until he thought he got it, so he said, "I'm fine." The man got all crazed and said again, "How are you???!!!" The older lady realized he was asking how old they were. And instead of letting her answer, the other man started guessing. He basically made them 10 years older than they were (the older lady was in her late 60's, the older man was in his early 70's). The older lady set him straight again. Then the man got really ballsy and asked, "Do you drive well?" At this point I was getting really bothered by him and his lack of respect for this couple, so I stopped pretending to read and was getting ready to interject if he got too familiar with them (which, really, in my opinion, he already did).

Luckily, the older couple was saved by weirdo man by having their name pop up on the screen. They both got up and moved slowly towards the line. All the while, the man kept batting stupid questions at them. The older lady kept saying over and over and over that they have to get in line, in hopes the guy would just shut up.

I think the older lady realized she couldn't stand in the line because of her health, so she came back to the seats, but this time sat right next to me. Which was far away enough from weirdo man that she could ignore him without it being totally obvious. I felt for her. She wasn't a mean older lady, so what was she supposed to do? I'd protect her. If I had too. Eventually they met up with another older man that they knew, and he protected them from weirdo man. He even took them home. The older couple took a cab because it would be too dark to drive when they were finished with their Kaiser fun.

Then there were all the people who felt they didn't need to stand in line. This one lady (who also barely spoke English -- I think I'm going to go to France and try the "I barely speak French, so I can cut in lines" way of living, and then get bashed by une baguette on the head by some angry French person, maybe even have des fromage tossed at my face...) decided that she didn't have to stand in line to 1. submit her prescription, and 2. to pick it up. She placed her child in the corner of the pharmacy (literally), looked a bit forlorn at the line, stood at the end of it for 2 seconds, and then wandered to the front where she started trying to explain that she traveled far and wide to get to the Fremont Kaiser Pharmacy. Oh yea? I came from San Francisco, get back in line!!!! (Not to mention I was being completely forgotten about). After much discussion about how lines work, she frantically walked back to the line and took her spot back. Yes, the 2 second spot. She said something in broken English that no one near her understood, and everyone near her just gave up and let her do it. See, if this was France...les baguettes would be flying!! Les fromage slice in the face -- slappity, slap-slap! Her kid took himself out of the corner and stood with her, blocking everyone's way with his overweight body. He was better off in the corner.

Another lady tried the same thing, and what got me was that she stood in the pick up line to drop off her prescription, and then went to the drop-off line to pick it up. By this time I was sitting in the front row waiting for my name to be called, and she was right next to me with her two kids. The younger one started screaming her head off while she waited. I gave her a hard, yet somewhat friendly stare (probably just looked scary), and she stopped screaming for a bit.

When she was called up to the next register accepting drop-offs, she said her name was on the board. The guy told her to get in line. She acted dumb, like she didn't understand and said her name was on the board. He told her again that he wasn't going to help her -- that she had to get in line. She then became instantaneously crafty and said what if she got in line and he ended up helping her, isn't that the same thing? (Side note: At this point in their conversation, he could have just helped her to get her out of the pharmacy, and it would have taken less time than him trying to explain that she just cut in front of all the people in line. However, being a person who spent many a year in retail, I know the principal of the matter, and you just have to force customers to do what's correct instead of them finagling their way into being helped.) He told her that if she got in line, and he was the next available cashier when she was in front, he would help her, but he wasn't going to help her right now. Then he called the next person to him, which means: I've shut the customer door on you, lady, now get your ass back in line with your screaming kids.

At about this point I was called, and I got to get myself out of there. When the lady was ringing me up, I noticed the guy wrote something on the slip he gave the pharmacist the 2nd time I went through the line. Call me crazy, but I think he wrote "hardcore." Maybe it's cause I've seen him a million times now. And that I'm willing to sit in the pharmacy like an idiot for hours. I don't know. I don't even know if that's what he wrote. I'm just a bit paranoid now that I'm a Kaiser Pharmacy regular. Maybe I should start a Kaiser blog.

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