Dutch pharmacies are totally depressing places. They are ugly and feel like a state-owned shop in a communist country. Almost always there is a long line. The vendors are extremely unfriendly, unhelpful and slow. Where I come from, pharmacisits are friendly and knowledgable, care about your problem, give you very good information about drug interactions etc and wish you ‘get better soon!’ when you leave.
Not so in Holland. Here a typical recent interaction:
“Can I have a combined anti-flu med? I am ill and need to fly to a conference tomorrow.”
– “We have paracetamol.”
– “No, I mean a combined medicine, you know, against swelling and blocked nose and fever at the same time…”
– “We don’t have this. We can give you a homeopathic flu med.”
– “Can I have something against throatache?”
– “Oh, this contains sugar. Do you have one without sugar, so I can use it at night?”
– “Even kijken….. ” (5 minutes pass while she is actually reading the ingredient list on a few boxes). “No.”
Another thing that is really annoying is that somehow they make it extremely easy to get detailed information about other customers. I always feel sorry for the people getting a huge bag of medicine for a probably serious condition, who have to spell out their name, address and date of birth, which you have to do for prescription meds, while ten waiting people are listening. This is humiliating.
Then, I have failed to find two medicines that I have been prescribed in other countries, which were in both cases a more advanced version of an older med. They still use the old version in Holland, which has stronger side-effects. When I was trying to find out how to solve this, the pharmacists have been extremely unhelpful and lazy and unwilling to look things up for me.
I understand the system is probably just different and so on; but these kind of things create an atmosphere which is hostile for ill people which really bothers me. I sometimes get the impression that in Holland people who are ill are seen as inferior and weak and are humiliated in order to get their act together and ‘be normal’ again. There is something in this which somehow fits with other things in this country; the careless relation with food; the infamous bluntness of people; the lack of curtains; the staring; the thriftiness. I guess it is all related to Calvinism, but I am not sure exactly how. Maybe I am just in a bad mood since it is 10 degrees Celsius in this country since about 8 months straight.