Friday, April 4, 2014

Wide Mike in Pharmacy

Wide Mike by Steve Moore
"This tells me nothing."  he said with a groan, gently flicking the paper back to me from behind the pharmacy counter.

My wife was getting her bi-weekly chemotherapy, and she sent me down to pharmacy to answer a question they had regarding her new insurance carrier.  She did not yet have a new insurance card, so she gave me sheet of paper with all the information printed on it, with the instruction, "Show this to pharmacy."  The pharmacist, a wide, miserable sack of paste named Mike, wasn't in the mood for my sheet of paper, and dismissed me with a passive smirk, avoiding eye contact.

I handed the paper back to Wide Mike.  "There's her name, policy, group number, and the phone number for the insurance company.  So it actually tells you quite a bit." I said.

He wiped his face, flabbergasted by my continued presence before him.  "I need their pharmacy insurance number.  It's totally different." he said with condescension.  "You need to give me a pharmacy insurance number." He lobbed the paper back into my court, and pretended to move on to other work.

"If you call the main number," I said, handing the paper back, "they could tell you the right number to call."

Wide Mike sighed. He clearly did not want to deal with me, and I clearly wasn't going to budge.  He picked up the phone, put it on speaker phone, and dialed.  An automated answer came with prompts.  Wide Mike hung up immediately.  "They couldn't tell me anything."  He said dismissively.

"Well, no, you hung up on them."   I pointed out.

"I already know.  I never get anywhere with them."  He grumbled.

"Oh." I said. "So you're clairvoyant?"

He paused; a slow burn pause worthy of Oliver Hardy.  He glanced up without moving his head, and slowly answered, "Yyyyyeeeesssss." he redialed, poking the keypad petulantly, and got someone from Donna's insurance company on the phone.

Wide Mike was equally officious with the person on the line, trying to impress them with his professional acumen.  Then he got quiet, grasped for something to write on, settling on a brown lunch bag.  He hastily wrote a number down, then got off the phone.   Without making eye contact, he folded the piece of paper, tossed it back to me and muttered, incredulously, "I was wrong." .

That really happened.  The health care system is only as good as the people involved in it.  I have known many awesome professionals, from pharmacists to nurses to doctors and surgeons; helpful people who make the stress of medical problems less stressful.

And then there are the Wide Mikes of the world.   My advice to all you patients and patient advocates out there - give them hell!


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