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As I walked into Walgreens this morning to pick up a prescription, I noticed what seemed to be an awful lot of exposed flesh on one woman coming out. I know it’s a hot day, but you’d think she’d want to cover that mound of white flesh. It was just then that I realized the skin didn’t belong to the woman: it was a baby! She had a tiny white-skinned baby in nothing more than a diaper slung under her arm like a football. The infant could not have been more than a couple weeks old; I doubt it was ready to be outside the womb let alone outside the house and now, outside Walgreens. I was so relieved to see the woman hoist her child into a car restraint, but how six pounds of tiny naked baby—mostly head—would stay propped up was beyond me. Hopefully its naked flesh would help it stick to the seat.
Having survived this vision, I went to stand in the long line of sick people waiting for their prescriptions. My attention quickly turned to the products on display in our aisle: Oh, people can test themselves for AIDS now. That’s good. People can take their own sobriety tests, that’s good—what a boon. Boone’s Farm, ha ha. Uh, people can buy a paternity test in the store? I guess that’s good. Hope I never have to buy one of those. The line was moving again so I looked ahead at the man in front of me: he was eating a candy bar. He shoved the last piece into his mouth and walked up to the guy behind the pharmacy counter. “I got hungry in line,” he said, placing the chocolate-smeared wrapper on the counter. “Charge me for it.”
My eyes reared back. Well I’m hungry too but I’m not going to start taking food off the shelves and eating it. What if everybody did that? Lunchtime at Walgreens! They carry deli selections now! Just grab a carton of milk and a hoagie and stand in the pharmacy line! Throw your wrappers on the counter and they’ll just charge you for it! What if I brought my family in here and we all combed the aisles for our favorite snack items, then stood in the pharmacy line and had a picnic? Would that be acceptable?
My turn finally came and I walked up to the counter to pick up a prescription that I had been there three other times to retrieve, except that my discount card and my insurance plan and the dates and the sun and the moon and the stars had not yet all aligned themselves in such a way as to make the prescription cost less than one million dollars. Today was the right day, I knew it—April First. I asked for the prescription with confidence, activated discount card in hand, knowing that my drugs were in the fifth bin from the right on the bottom shelf, where they had been all week.
I don’t know when I realized that two pharmacists and a pharmacy tech were searching for my lost prescription. Maybe it was when I saw myself in the security camera, slumped over and drooling. Maybe it was when my stomach growled and I remembered the groceries I’d left in my car, now baking in the Arizona heat, the hottest day of the year so far. Maybe it was when I thought about cranking up an Easy Bake Oven from the toy aisle and throwing the whole thing on the counter when I was done: Just charge me for it.
Finally, a pharmacist approached with my lost but now found bag of pills. “Sometimes the bins get too full and spill over into the wrong ones,” he apologized. Maybe that wouldn’t happen if you wouldn’t call people and sing “You’re prescription’s ready!” on the phone, when in reality their own personal galaxies haven’t lined up yet, and won’t line up until April First.
As an insured patient, I paid no more than $25 for my brand-name drugs—this time. I limped back through the store and out to my car without eating anything from the shelves. Good thing too, because my groceries had spontaneously combusted on the front seat. What started as a carton of eggs and turkey sausage was now a full-blown breakfast burrito with salsa on the side.
Another lucky day.