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The Walgreens Welcome

Wed, 12/18/2019 - 11:37
GUESTWORDS

It’s 8:33 a.m. You pour a second cup of coffee to wash down a pill. The vial is running low. You call the new Walgreens pharmacy in the old Bridgehampton Commons. A disembodied female prompt asks why you are calling Walgreens in the Bridgehampton Commons.

Script refill, please.

“You can talk to me using full phrases; for example: I would like a prescription refilled.”

Okay. I would like a prescription refilled.

“Sorry. The pharmacy does not open until 9 a.m. You can call the Walgreens pharmacy at the northwest corner of Bicycle Path and Middle Country Road in Selden.”

Selden? Why would I call a pharmacy 45 miles away?

You get no good answer. You assume that Walgreens knows that anyone who does not work at Walgreens knows that unsolicited suggestions from a Walgreens bot may, more likely than not, make no sense whatsoever.

You bide your time. You call back at 9 a.m. sharp. You think you’re the early bird. 

“We’re sorry to keep you waiting but all of our staff are serving other customers. There are two callers ahead of you.”

Two callers? Reasonable enough. You pop two slices of whole wheat into the five-minute toaster and contemplate your health care coverage and your health; you ponder how much time you have left on this earth and how much time left before Walgreens might pick up. After 10 of those precious minutes dawdle by, you think a thought you never thought you’d ever think: I miss Rite Aid.

Rite Aid had its issues, Lord knows, but it also had a computerized service that allowed you to refill scripts by simply touching seven numbers on your phone. Now that Walgreens has purchased 1,932 Rite Aids for $4.4 billion, you hear the following message every 12 seconds:   

“We’re sorry to keep you waiting but all of our staff are serving other customers. There are two callers ahead of you.”

Is there a Walgreens grammar test for certain medicines? After all, staff is a singular noun and the prompt ought to say “our staff is serving other customers.” Twenty minutes has elapsed. (Or is it 20 minutes have elapsed?) Either way, you have heard the same 12-second apology 50 times, each time interrupted by 12 seconds of faux classical music that is (that are?) meant to relax. It does not. (They do not?) You are getting anxious; to hold or not to hold? That is the question. Perchance to CVS?   

“We’re sorry to keep you waiting but all of our staff are serving other customers. There is one caller ahead of you.”

One caller. Cool. You are moving ahead. It is now 9:21, and every 12 seconds, like clockwork, the music is cut off and the message repeats.

“We’re sorry to keep you waiting but all of our staff are serving other customers. There is one caller ahead of you.”

Time marches on. Coffee gets cold. Toast disappears. Ten more minutes disappear. The caller before you must have myriad troubles. Breathe deeply. Be compassionate.

At 9:34, the message changes.

“We’re sorry. Our staff is answering other calls. Please hold on and we’ll be with you shortly.”

Wait. What happened to the queue? Does that mean you’re no longer in line? Now it’s just other calls and please hold on? So the phone is ringing in the Commons but no one is picking up? You pace. For a solid, timorous 15 minutes you pace. In the last three-quarters of an hour, you have heard the same automated female voice over 115 times and have polished off two helpings of toast (with jam) and consumed too much coffee and washed the dishes and brushed your teeth (again) and someone is calling you.

It’s Verizon! This can’t be good. And you can’t lose your place in line — if you have a place in line — so you don’t pick up but you do hear yourself saying: “Breaking news, Verizon. There’s a new kid in town, a challenger for your WCW crown — Worst Company in the World. Praemonitus praemunitus, Verizon, forewarned is forearmed. Walgreens means business!” 

“We’re sorry. Our staff is answering other calls. Please hold on and we’ll be with you shortly.”

 9:57. The grammar has improved, the efficiency not. The beat goes on. The music remains the same. Wouldn’t Al Green for Walgreens make more sense? You long for the day Amazon enters the pharmacy game; your refill would have already arrived.

You are now officially loopy. It has been an hour. Your pacing picks up its pace. Homicidal thoughts enter your mind. You put Walgreens on hold and speed-dial your family physician. His service answers. You recite your pertinent information and request a prescription.

“What for?” Anxiety. “What seems to be the problem, Mr. Bushel?” Walgreens. “We understand. Which tranquilizer should I ask the doctor for?” Xanax would be fine. “Xanax.” Or Ativan. “Or Ativan.” Or Valium or Restoril or Klonopin, or even Lunesta. “Are you aware that these are highly addictive medications, Mr. Bushel?” Not to worry, Answering Service, the way Walgreens works, the doctor will never get through and I’ll never see pill one. “Which pharmacy should we call this into, Mr. Bushel?”

You suddenly realize you’ve been talking too long and might miss your Walgreens connection, so you put your doctor’s service on hold and switch back to your Walgreens service just in time to hear “Hello, Walgreens.” Sounds like a human voice. “Hello, Walgreens Pharmacy.” It is an actual live person and you’re caught off guard and hesitate for a moment and then hear yourself stammer, “I’m sorry. I’m on the other line. Please hold on and I will be with you shortly. Thank you for your p-p-patience . . .”


Bruce Buschel is a writer who resides in Bridgehampton. 


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