The Irony Of The Pharmacy

For a place that claims to promote good health, they sure sell a lot of junk.

Yesterday, I ran errands with my kids. I needed to get my sunglasses which were in the other car, and my wife had the other car where she was working. Then I needed to make a deposit at the bank. And then we were going to go to the park. But we got sidetracked at the pharmacy.

After I got my sunglasses, I went to the bank to make a deposit. Usually, I avoid ATMs, but the bank was closed and I had endorsed the checks with the account number and “For Deposit Only”, so what could go wrong, right? I started the process with my bank card, then followed the prompts to insert the checks. The ATM, a Diebold machine (they make voting machines, too), couldn’t scan my checks. Then it said that it could not process my transaction. I called customer service and let them know what happened, praying that they’d find the checks.

Right after that, my elder daughter said she needed to make a potty stop. Sure. There is a pharmacy next door, and there we went.

There is something very interesting to me about pharmacies. This one was a Walgreens, and we have pharmacies in Utah like California has liquor stores. They’re everywhere. And not only do they push drugs, but they also sell a ton of junk.

This is easy for an adult to walk around. I just saw the chips, the cookies, the candy, and the prepared meals and said to myself, I know what that stuff does to me. I also saw row upon row of knickknacks, gadgets, and other flotsam that I didn’t want to buy.

But to small kids, all that colorful shiny stuff has an enduring attraction that lasts for about as long as it takes to get them out of the store. My kids wanted to look at everything. But the first thing they saw were these giant (to them) suckers. And they saw another kid holding one as her parents approached the checkout.

I tried to negotiate around the giant suckers. The clerk behind the counter could see my efforts were mostly going in vain, so she offered a bowl of smaller Dumdums for free. The elder kid gladly took the freebie. The younger kid was having none of that.

I figured that we didn’t have anything on the schedule and that eventually, we’d go to the park. I just underestimated their determination to get something that they wanted. So I said, “Sure. Let’s have a look around.” And we walked and browsed, and they looked some more. I just kept thinking that I was going to get out of there without spending any money. That was my goal.

But as my kids kept negotiating, it became clear to me that it wasn’t the candy. It was the purchase they were after. They didn’t really care what I bought, as long as I bought something for them. Even if they got a freebie. It’s an interesting form of behavior. I just got something for free, but that’s not enough so spend some of that cash and I’ll feel better.

So I figured that if I was going to buy *something* it wasn’t going to be candy. Then I found some puzzle books. That could work. My kids like puzzles and they can’t eat them. With some finagling, I managed to negotiate a deal with them on the puzzle book and got one.

I was hoping to get out of there for less, but I spent $8 on a puzzle book with mazes. That should keep them occupied for a while and that will work their noodle. I really wanted something that would work their noodles rather than their teeth.

Looking back on what I saw at Walgreens, I just saw lots and lots of stuff that I would not consider eating, much less put on my body, or buy just for amusement. Then this morning, as I wrote this article, I went to their website, and their website has a very different demeanor than their store.

Their website is all so serious and has no mention of all the candy, chips and cookies that you would see inside their stores. Their landing page is all about vitamins, contact lenses, flu shots, and aspirin. Not a single word about M&M’s, Doritos or Mother’s Cookies.

They know that plenty of parents will visit with their kids. They know that some parents will gladly fork over 59 cents for a sucker just to pacify their kids. And they know that there are long term consequences to the consumption of candy, chips, and cookies, especially when they are consumed by young kids. Those same kids, with a lifetime of eating the junk food that is sold at Wallgreens, may eventually find themselves taking the drugs sold at Walgreens.

That is the irony of the pharmacy.

Write on.

Written by

Husband, father, worker, philosopher, and observer. Plumbing the depths of consciousness to find the spring of happiness. Write on.

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