In Bruce Weber's latest book, "As They See 'Em: A Fan's Travels In The Land of Umpires," he wonders a bit at why someone would put himself (note: they are all men) in the position of being routinely spat on, cursed, and hollered at. I realize that I too could have been a baseball umpire. All of us in retail pharmacy, it seems to me, have the requisite training and inherent abilities to be a big league ump.


I've had spittle discharged in my general direction as a matter of course. Cursed? Practically every hour of every day. Yelled at? Please. Only the linoleum saves my shoes from being covered in dirt. 


And the comparison does not stop at the abuse. Pharmacists, like umpires, must make split second decisions and then move on, ready for the next. I continue to recall the episode on "I Love Lucy," where Lucille Ball gets a job in a chocolate factory. The chocolates speed down the line faster than she can pick them up. Finally she begins to shove them into her mouth. (I don't recommend that for any but the choicest medications.) In my pharmacy we do about one script every couple of minutes. That's a pretty good pace, especially when one of those insurance rejections comes up and we have to stop "the line" to make a phone call to an insurance company that puts you on hold for twenty minutes, then transfers you to the other department that you should have called (if you only knew of its existence, that is). 


For every prescription coming down the line, unlike those chocolates, you have to make decisions. Is this the right dose? Did the doctor write for the wrong drug or the wrong strength? Does the Nurse Practitioner really know what is going on here? Did the Physician's Assistant hit the wrong button before sending his e-script? Is the patient still taking drug X which interferes with Drug Y? On and on it goes.

Just like umps, those unlovable bumps on a log getting their lumps. Oh, how I envy them! How wonderful their lives must be! For though they receive their abuse as I do, though they have to take it all with a fair dose of equanimity, as do I, they have that not so secret weapon, that discharging of duty up their sleeves—Oh, how I would love to say it, just once, to Mrs. Scrofulous, to Mr. Pin Head!

Crouching low then leaping high, brazen and loud, sung like a Metallica screech:

Yerrrrrrr Outtttttttta Heeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrreeeeeeeee!


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