A Matter Of Convenience


“WHAT ABOUT TRANSFERS?”

I ask the pharmacist, a perky redhead with a ponytail swaying in perfect rhythm to a MUZAK instrumental of Norwegian Wood. The faux-Beatles version flows through the low fidelity speakers at Walgreens unrecognizable to all but the most ardent Lennon and McCartney fans.

“Excuse me?” she says, looking puzzled.

I pointed to her chest where her name in boxy letters is centered on a huge piece of plastic. It is sandwiched in between the question: “Transfers? Ask me!”

“Transfers. Your badge says ask you about transfers. Can you get me a job in Miami?” Being a weekend smartass flirt is one of the few pleasures suburbia and middle age affords me.

The light bulb goes off and she breaks a wide grin. She seems genuinely pleased that I’m not fixated on her chest for nefarious reasons. “Oh,” she says, hanging on that one syllable making it sound as if she is starting a clunker with a dying battery, “No one ever asks me. It means prescriptions, we can take a prescription filled somewhere else and move it here to this pharmacy where it’s more convenient.”

Every retailer in my five mile containment zone is consumed with my convenience. It is incredibly comforting, this suburban fixation with access, proximity, speed, and ubiquity. If Marx were hanging out in American subdivisions today, he would likely say that convenience is the opiate of the masses.

“I see. Ah, I don’t actually have a prescription to transfer but I do have one that needs filling for my daughter,” I shift back into my deferential, geeky dad mode and signal to the pharmacist I’ll wait, pointing to the four plastic retro chairs arranged in a small square on a patch of chipped linoleum next to the pharmacist’s high wall.

“OK, shouldn’t be long,” she says, slipping on cheaters and eyeballing the scrawl by Dr. Lindbladt, an antibiotic cream for a nasty gash my daughter got from an out of position mid-fielder trying to reclaim position on the soccer pitch.

Noting neatly stacked rows of incontinence pads, hemorrhoid wipes and fiber therapy bottles that surround me, I rethink my decision to wait. A minor respite I think from an endless list of weekend honey-dos, my Walgreens detention is a minor distraction on a Saturday filled with inconveniences in spite of my area retailer’s best efforts.

My mindless daydreaming is interrupted by the partially muted exchange between the pharmacy technician minding the drive-thru and a customer that I can’t see but can clearly hear is unhappy about something.

“I’m sorry m’am we can’t take them back once you’ve left the premises,” I hear the technician telling a woman, I presume a senior.

Seniors are ubiquitous at Walgreens. They come in clutching circulars that market cans of tuna and other senior staples like apple sauce and caramel chews. The notion that drug stores even sell food is lost on me.

A Matter Of Convenience continues...
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Discussion
  14 months ago
Enjoyed this, particularly the part about seniors shopping at Walgreens. Felt like I was accompanying you on errands (but in a good way.)

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