Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Beaven ran out of his allergy medicine last night. If he as much as looks at a dog he starts sneezing. So he asked me to get some when I went to the store. As I opened the door to leave, three of our dogs ran inside, scratching themselves and fluffing their fur. So this became an Important Mission.

He normally takes a prescription medication but there was some kind of snafu between the doctor’s office and the pharmacy. Coricidin D works in a pinch he says. Easy enough, I think.

Except the Coricidin D is one of the medicines that now requires something close to a Senate investigation to buy. Ever since folks began cooking up pseudoephedrine to make methamphetamine the powers that be have tried to make it harder to buy lots of the stuff over the counter. I’m not sure how the chemical works but it sounds like the “pseudo” part means “fake”, according to my high school etymology. I guess the “real” ephedrine doesn’t hurt anything.

I had to go to the counter to get the stuff and ask a Real Live Person if I could buy some. She asked for my driver’s license. Then started tapping things into her computer. She had really long and strong fingernails and I was fascinated by the sound her nails made on the screen. Then I became awestruck by how long it was taking her to tap-tap-tap my information into the computer. She must have been writing down every single fact about me that is on my license. Now the government knows that I bought Coricidine D as well as where I live, how old I am and what color my eyes are. Also, the fact that I need glasses to see to drive a car. Tap, tap, tap, tappity tap tap. What more about me could she want to know?

Finally she paused and looked up and asked, “phone number?” I guess if I buy too much of this stuff and government calls me to ask why.

By this time I was in awe of the powerful goods I had in my grocery cart. Normally, I am prone to park the cart somewhere in the aisle if it gets crowded and walk off to get something without taking the basket with me. Not today. I kept a watchful eye on my basket, hovering over it like a mother hen. I had Valuable Cargo. Highly restricted cargo that the Government was interested in. I never felt this way buying diapers.

Finally, I was ready to go home and thought I’d save time by using one of the Self Check Out lines. This was quite a gamble, I know, but I’ve gotten used to them and there was no waiting at this one. It started out telling me they had to have a Real Live Human check the weight of my newspaper. This didn’t make sense. Why does the weight matter? They’re not going to make me pay more if the paper has more news that day. Am I to be punished if George Bush does something stupid that day, like starting a way in Iraq?

After I finally got a clerk to approve my buying a newspaper I checked out the rest, saving my Valuable Drugs for last. “Need Authorization Validated for This Purchase” appeared on the screen. Apparently, we needed someone to check my life story the other lady tap-tap-tapped into her computer in the pharmacy. And, of course, by this time there wasn’t a soul around the stand where they watch us Self-Checking Criminals. I knew I was in for a long wait. I unpacked everything and changed to a lane with a Real Live Human. From there the visit to the store went seamlessly. When the Real Live Human came to my drug purchase she bypassed the question with one tap of one key. I was approved. Apparently I don't look like the kind of person who cooks up meth in a trailer.

I intend to ask my friend, Kit, about all of this. She has been a Drug Dealer for years. At least that's what her son has called her ever since he could impress his middle school friends with the term. She is, in fact, a pharmacist at the SMU Health Center. Kit will know all about the torture I just went through. She will probably tell me that this supervision over pseudoephedrine is even harder for her.

Except I can’t call her until the weekend. This is her second-busiest time of the year. All the co-eds returning to school will be in her pharmacy this week to get their birth control prescriptions refilled. Her busiest time is at the end of the year when they all want a three-month supply to tide them over the summer because they don’t want their hometown pharmacists to know they take birth control pills. Flu season? It’s a piece of cake compared to selling fake ephedrine and birth control pills.

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