The Sales Rep

You know them. They're young, well-dressed, good-looking and carry boxy brief cases with samples. They're the drug reps.

Truth be known, FD has brought home an odd assortment of perks from drug reps. Mostly pens. The best, bar none, is one that advertizes a drug for erectile dysfunction. You got it. It folds up conveniently, and slowly rises on command.

Although the major newspapers have exposed drug companies for buying physicians (they pop for expensive vacations to Cozumel), none have offered us anything like that. It's a shame, too, because I could have used a vacation to Cozumel. I don't think I'm destined to ever go there.

Ever so often a pharmaceutical company will bring in lunch to FD's office, or pop for an expensive dinner in a restaurant, but he sits through the presentations. He only goes if he thinks the drug has some merit, and he's only invited me along one time. The drug was for sleeplessness, so it wasn't totally out of line. I had a great time.

It's the attention, the kindly admiration that they lavish on physicians that I think of when when I think of drug reps. I've had the good fortune of treating a few in my day, and they've been truly personable, hard-working people (no, we can't generalize, now, can we, but maybe we can). They're funny and focus upon the sale. Drug companies have plenty of money; the reps are well-trained in their craft.

So imagine my surprise when a team of three young, beautiful sales-type persons knocked on the door to my new office. I don't prescribe, you know, not being an MD. But I love visitors, and luck had it that I wasn't with a patient. Unfortunately I'd kicked off my shoes and had papers all over the place, so I shouted, Hold 'on, I'll be just a minute, found the shoes, checked my hair in the mirror and opened the door.

"Well, what can I do for YOU!" I exclaimed, thinking they were drug reps, of course. I'm telling you. One more gorgeous than the next, all different ethnic shades.

"We're from Quill and we'd like to show you our product line, we're offering 20% off. . ."

"Hold on! I've got a patient in ten minutes. But do you have INK?" I had just run out five minutes before, and there's never a good time to run out of ink. I write. I bill. I bill. I write. It all takes ink.

Well, of course they had ink. We went through the numbers and the number of cartridges I'd need, and I thought I had a good deal, six cartridges for under fifty dollars. "Great," I say. They wanted me to confirm the sale on the phone. "But I can't complete this thing right now. Someone's waiting for me, and I don't keep patients waiting."

"No problem, doctor. We'll visit someone else and come back in an hour."

I tell them there's no guarantee they're going to catch me in the 3 second break I usually have between patients, but the leader of the pack tells me for sure they'll pull this off. No worries. I'll have my ink, maybe in 24 hours.

That's what I wanted, of course. I wanted to get to work the next day and see a package with ink cartridges from Quill. But I had another four patients and it was already one o'clock. At 2:30 the lead sales rep caught me as I stepped into the waiting room to fetch my next patient.

"Doc, Let me just show you the order and we can call it in. It'll take 2 minutes."

I shrug. "No way. I don't have the 2 minutes right now. You'll have to wait another 45."

"Just look at the order. Let's make sure it's right."

The order is just under $100.00. "This is twice what I thought it would be."

She tells me what I ordered and how much, and I say, "Well, at Office Max I buy a 2-pack for $25.00, one color, one black."

"Oh, you wanted the 2-pack! Why didn't you say so! They're half the price."

So that's what I want. Write it up and come back.

This goes on and on. We came in under $50.00, but we had to add another $5 worth of merchandize to qualify for free shipping. I say, "Post-Its," pointing them out in the catalogue. Of course, I had pointed to the ad for 6 dozen packages of Post-Its. Now my bill is $2000. No, no, no. One little package, okay? Okay. Did I want the free cookies? What do I look like? Someone who says no to free cookies? Are they kosher? We don't know. Who makes them? Famous something. Oh, I think they are. YES. Bring me cookies.

Every break in the action I'm dealing with this. Finally, at 4:45, my last patient of the day is late. I can finish the deal on the phone. I'm thinking, this is insane. Why am I doing this? How hard would it be to go to Office Max. I'm saving no money, really, oh, maybe a few dollars, but was it worth it to be shopping in the middle of a busy office day?

Sure it was. To be fawned over by kids who are going to make money on their sale, who are going to go home and say, WE GOT ANOTHER ACCOUNT! Such a no-brainer. I love this job.
Today it's ink, tomorrow paper, before I blink I'll be buying a new sofa.

And that wouldn't be such a bad idea, either.


P.S. I had the ink by 10:00 a.m. the following day.


PsychoToddler said…
So, wait...if drug reps give out pens, do pen reps give out drugs?
The Goddess G said…
Ah yes. I can always spot the drug reps out when I'm in the doctors office.

Reminds me of a funny story my therapist told me about a meeting for a patient. Everyone was agreeing that the pt should be on they were writing it down on with on paper/clipboards/pen/drinking out of coffee cups from the drug companies. Makes me chuckle every time.

Too bad you didn't get a vaca to Cozumel with that ink!!
Anonymous said…
Hi! New to your blog and absolutely loving it...especially your candid style of writing and wit. Spent part of my day yesterday reading the backlog. Excellent. Thank you! I'll be back!
I hate to say it, but drug reps and their free lunches and their fancy pens all make me feel dirty, so I don't participate. Pen reps however, seem a lot less bad.
MT said…
It's like what goes on walking through a Middle Eastern casbah or market as a tourist. You're a tourist and the market has few vendors. But the practice seems ripe for a free-for-all (what's stopping the cell phone vendors, travel and life insurance agents from coming? can they do this to picnickers, paddle boaters, freeway commuters?) and/or graft (who decides what companies are allowed through the gate, and on what basis?). "Commerce" means merchants competing for your attention in order to survive and prosper. It's just prudent we confine fighters to a ring and otherwise zone our public places toward different purposes. Also what about the clients' experience? Why have a waiting room at all? Why not just rent a sound-proofed stall in the market?
MT said…
BTW I did notice and enjoy the guilty-pleasure/ironic/self-aware spirit of your post. I just didn't have anything of like kind to reply and went philosophical. It's a habit.
clairem said…
loved reading this entry... a bit like a good book wen you want to jump lines to know what comes next...
court. said…
Thank you for your gracious outlook on sales reps. As a drug rep myself, it's customers like you who are worth fawning over.

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