A friendly drug rep

“How was your holidays?” he asked, upbeat and friendly.  Sometimes we have pharmaceutical reps bring lunch to the office and tell us about their new drugs.  I could write a separate post about the ethics behind this, but I will spare you the details.  One thing I will say is that there are so many new drugs (so many drugs, period) out there that I can’t possibly know them all.  Having someone (so be it, biased) tell me about one while I’m eating is helpful.  Whether it’s a lunch they provide or one I bring on my own matters little to me.

Drug reps are hired to be friendly- they are sales people and want us to prescribe their drugs.  This one was representing a menopause drug and since I prescribe only a few of these kinds of drugs a year (most of my gyn patients are under age 40), he gave me his spiel and then he just made small talk.

I took a second to think about what kind of response I wanted- honest? polite? pleasant?

I went with honesty.

“Kind of sad, actually,” I said pleasantly, but without expanding.  Why lie?

“Oh, I can imagine,” he responded.  “I saw your sign.”

I looked at one of my assistants. “I thought we took those down.”  She nodded, confused as I was.

“I saw it last year.  I think it’s amazing that you’re back here.”  Honestly I think he was also a little amazed that I walked into the lunch room with a general friendly disposition too.  He was genuine and kind.

“It was a rough year.  But it’s a new year now and I’m hoping this one will be kind to me.” I recited my new standard response.

“Me too. I hope it is for you.”

He was a nice drug rep.  The company hired well.  I don’t remember the name of his drug, but the food was good.

How do you answer “How was your holidays?”


10 thoughts on “A friendly drug rep

  1. Wow <3. It is amazing that you are back there, he is right – friendly drug rep or not.

    I am usually honest about the holidays and just say "the holidays were really hard for me, I'm glad they're over." I went to a yoga class on Christmas Eve and there was a huge, awful, heated debate about whether to play Christmas music during class, why some people were being "grinches" and didn't want music, etc… The teacher was even making jokes about people being emotionally scarred because of accidents involving Christmas trees and electric lights (meanwhile, chatting about how her own son and daughter had roles in The Nutcracker and were still playing along with Santa even though they knew). I didn't speak up, but I ended up crying and leaving early. The people in that room truly couldn't understand why the holidays would be difficult for someone (aside from "busy-ness", family conflicts and weight gain). So now, I try to explain it (briefly, honestly, plainly) to those who ask… hoping that some of the people I talk to may spread a bit more compassion in future years.

    • omg- I totally had a similar experience (not as intense though) at my bootcamp. the instructor found some high intensity (hip-hoppy) Christmas music that she started each session around Christmas with. everyone got a kick out of it… except me. I didn’t complain, though I totally wanted to. WHen the song “all I want for Christmas is you” started the session, my heart ached. It used to be my favorite xmas song and now it just means something else. plus I just wasn’t in the mood. bootcamp should have been free of holiday flare, right? I saw my parents the weekend after xmas, after telling them we would not see them for the actual holiday because we wanted a quiet xmas alone and my dad played xmas music then too. My siblings complained (in the way adult children could) but I kinda wanted to ask him to turn it off too- I just didn’t have the heart.

      but I’m totally with you!

      • So rough. I don’t think I would’ve gotten so upset if they hadn’t been debating it… But after that “All I want for Christmas is you”, “Silent night”, “I’ll be Home for Christmas”… Oh, my gosh. Last year I appreciated Christmas in a whole new way, being pregnant for the first time… This year, I felt like the whole entire thing was designed to hurt me!!

  2. Agreed that it’s amazing that you are back at work and dealing with pregnancies of others.

    We had a quiet holiday season at home. We didn’t travel or have family travel to us. So my reponse has been that are holidays were quiet and low key. I’m a middle school assistant principal and have tried to be very aware of how excited the kids, staff, and families were going into the holidays. So I filtered my responses to others at work. With our friends and family we were honest that the holidays were hard.

    Also totally agree on the gym experiences. I took a body step class on Christmas Eve and everyone was wanting there to be Christmas music and the instructor just let everybody know that she wore bells on get shoes and that was as far as she was going to go with the holiday. I just smiled to myself and wondered if she was trying to just get through the holidays too.

    • You are a perfect example of how loss changes us- we see people more sensitively, thinking more in depthly about them, like you thinking beyond grinchiness of your instructor! There are often good reasons behind someone hesitation to be festive!

  3. What an awesome guy! Seriously. Think about all of the offices he goes to, and he remembers your story? He must have a heart in there underneath all the salesmanness. 🙂

    • Right? And he had never met me before- to make that connection a d to actually say sometging kind/appropriate? Not gonna lie, makes me want to prescribe his drug 🙂

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