Drug Store Memories

Let’s talk about drug stores because we can. Freedom of Speech is a beautiful thing, especially when it enables me to drone on about something as inconsequential as CVS and Walgreens. I kind of think that Freedom of Speech is meant to protect our right to speak out against the government, but the only time I got in “trouble” during high school was when I was constantly talking to my friend in Government class, so I clearly wasn’t paying attention. Full disclosure: I also got sent to the Dean once for chewing gum in Mass when I was a senior, but the instant I got to his office he sent me back to class because he didn’t know who I was and I also don’t think he was Catholic so he didn’t care all that much.

I have several distinct memories of drug stores. The first is of the CVS that was down the street from us when we lived in Chicago. I used to go there all the time because they were constantly sending me coupons for two for one ice cream. I figured this was good because it was the double-churned kind of ice cream, which is allegedly less unhealthy than the regular kind. Four months and thirty pounds later, I stopped believing that. The problem with CVS is that unlike Walgreens where there are actual little checkout aisles, CVS has this giant area up at the front where you are just supposed to stand around and form a line. It is a fact that humans cannot form lines if left to their own devices. They will just meander around and likely climb onto each others’ shoulders unless they are corralled in an orderly fashion. Without those little nylon barriers you often see at the airport and banks, customers at CVS can become feral. There were uncountable times when I would go and buy my ice cream and the person behind me in line would be literally four inches away from my back. I am lucky they didn’t breath on my ice cream and melt it. They are lucky I didn’t punch them.

Another great memory I have of drug stores was when B and I were back in Memphis for Christmas 2011. One day, my brother, my mom, and pregnant me were going to go to a local jewelry store so my mom could show my brother some charms for a charm bracelet that she wanted for Christmas. I tagged along in the hopes that someone would forget that the shopping trip was for my mom and buy me some jewelry too. While we were out, my mom asked my brother what he wanted for Christmas and he said that we should go to Rite Aid so he could show her. Since Rite Aid was across the street, we headed over and my brother picked up two giant canisters of whey protein that you make into a shake after you lift weights. My mom was like, “Really? That’s all you want for Christmas?” and my brother nodded. We went up to the checkout area – which, I might add, was a lot more organized at this particular Rite Aid location than at CVS – and the lady rang us up. The total for the whey protein came to like $120 and suddenly we all understood why my brother didn’t want to buy it himself.

My final memory about drug stores isn’t really my memory at all. It’s my husband’s, but since we’ve been together for so long I can lay claim to his memories and pass them off as my own. Plus, this memory is indicative of 99.9% of the stuff we talk about so you can get a good glimpse into the depth of our relationship. One time he was at Walgreens, which evidently puts out a circular with all the sales and promos that are going on at the store. You can find them inside the newspaper but you can also find them at the front of the store if you want to live dangerously and wing it. I think on the day in question he had just ducked inside Walgreens to pick up some almonds and a Naked juice because his drug store food purchases are always far more nutritious than mine. In the checkout line, there was an elderly lady ahead of him who had scoured the circular and found an ad on Whitman’s Samplers. She was trying to get the discount for them, but apparently that was an outdated ad so the nineteen year old checkout person was trying to explain to her that Whitman’s Samplers were no longer 1% off or whatever. The standoff continued for what seemed to B like eternity and he finally left without his snack because he had to get back to work. That one incident isn’t all that interesting by itself, but I swear ever since it happened, every time I go to Walgreens there is an elderly person bickering over the circular with the sales attendant. Here’s a word of advice to all of you aspiring Walgreens checkers: just give them the discount. They are retired so they have all the time in the world to wear you down.

This blog post is in honor of my homeboy Mooselicker AKA Tim Boyle AKA the Voice of a Generation. He wrote this post that spawned the one you just read above. He is one of the nicest people I have encountered while blogging and to him I say “thank you” and “huzzah!” for being unapologetically original and great.


  1. WHAT! You were sent to the dean’s office for chewing gum! Oh my! I’m finally hearing about your wild and reckless high school days!
    And, I remember that CVS in Chicago. It was like no one had a sense of personal space.

    1. You didn’t know that?! I could have sworn I told you! The only thing I ever got in trouble at school for was chewing gum. I hope we are as lucky with C.

  2. Great post! This is my idea that I think all stores should begin to incorporate. Rather than having flyers, circulars, coupons and discount cards, like you do for grocery stores (I have a card for Jewel and one for Dominicks) merchants should just go ahead and mark those items down. I know, it’s radical. Why should you have to join a club or cut out a stupid coupon when the store should just give everyone who buys that item the discount? Seriously. It’s a no brainer. Think of the hours that would be saved not to mention all that junk mail and paper.
    Is there a psychology behind it? I don’t get it. If you want Tootsie Rolls to be on sale for the week then MARK DOWN THE PRICE! Do they really think that there’ll be a mad rush for Tootsie Rolls?
    All that needless haggling at the counter could be avoided.
    Am I missing something? Do people want to feel like they’re special because they have a piece of paper that knocks 25 cents off?
    Instead of clutching a stupid coupon for paper towel we could just be civilized and get the discount at the checkout WITHOUT THE DUMB COUPON.

    Thanks for letting me vent. In Lisa’s world, obviously things would run a lot more smoothly and make more sense. ;)

    1. DOMINICKS!!!!! I freaking loved that place, mostly because they were always having sales on Odwalla Bars which are my kryptonite. I had forgotten that place existed. I was never a big fan of Jewel because everything seemed to be like .25 cents more expensive than Dominicks and the lighting at the one we went to (in Evanston) was all fluorescent and gross. Ah, I miss Dominicks.

      Needless to say, I totally agree with everything you said, baring one thing. I got a coupon for a FREE jar of organic baby food the other day because I am evidently a mover and a shaker now in the mommy blog world and so I was sent one. I am kind of excited ;D I only like coupons when they are for things that I actually buy, and since we buy so little processed food and name brand stuff, I never have a use for coupons for Prego and Coke. But yes, just mark the crap down. Pass those savings on!

    2. Better idea: We should just switch back to to the barter system. I’d haggle those cashiers down to a used bicycle tire and an underfed chicken in exchange for some Whitman’s Samplers. That would be much more fun.

  3. Gum chewing in Mass. I always knew you were a rebel.

    I got sent to the dean’s office for my shorts being too short. They were BARELY too short, but we had a substitute teacher that day who was a jerk. The dean told me my shorts just looked short because I was tall and had long legs (which in retrospect is kind of creepy coming from the dean), and then he sent me back to class with the instruction to never wear those shorts to school again.

    1. We were both so bad. That sub was just jealous of your long legs. Subs are not known for being all that attractive.

  4. I remember the five and dimes where they had lunch counters and you could buy a sandwich and a milkshake or an ice cream soda or a sundae. My grandmother used to take me for an ice cream soda when I was little. I was very neat and never got the ice cream on myself. She was very proud of me. How I miss those days.

    1. That sounds so beautiful! I would absolutely LOVE to go to an old school drug store than still has a soda fountain. It occurred to me when I was titling this post that the term “drug store” almost don’t apply to Walgreens and CVS, which are more convenience stores with pharmacies in the back.

  5. Voice of a generation, me? Looks like I have to die young now.

    Great observation about the CVS lines. When I was in California they actually were a little more organized. The only weird thing was the lanes were on an uneven slant which is hard enough parking a car in and even more difficult to walk through.

    1. Please don’t go dying anytime soon. Who would I blog stalk? I mean other than Lily.

  6. This was beautiful, Emily.
    You have a wonderful down-to-earth style that I can’t look away from. I just wish I had more time to visit!

    1. You don’t even have to explain being pressed for time! There are WAY too many blogs now!

  7. I feel your CVS pain. It can all be so confusing. Do we stand in a different line for each cashier, or just in one big line and the person up front goes to the next available cashier? What do we do? DEAR GOD, WHAT DO WE DO???

    1. YES! This is my exact question! My head almost explodes every time I am faced with these CVS challenges.

  8. Confession – I would run out of Mass and hang out at the pharmacy too! I could plan it perfectly and get back right after the Homily. And boy, was that a L O N G Homily (homework included!) And Yes! I did chew gum in Mass and cross my legs! Funny to hear that other gum chewing rebels are fessing up – just don’t tell my mom ;)

    1. Ha! My own mom apparently found out for the first time today! It only took me 14 years to build up the courage to talk about it.

  9. Bwahahaha! Eric and I laughed so hard when we read this. Mostly about the whey protein. And the ice cream. And, well, all of it. Remember when I got sent to the principal for wearing a skirt on jeans day? Good times!

    1. YES! I remember that! I need to have you on as a guest blogger. Oh, the tales we could tell.

  10. Pharmacies and those vague line-ups: so frustrating and time-consuming. Why does human nature lean more towards the habits of sheep than ants?

    1. A question for the ages. Sheep are cuter than ants, though. We are obsessed with cuteness! And dumbness.

      1. Cuteness and dumbness. Sign me up!

  11. Haha. Ah, drug stores – my friend and I used to try to be crazy couponers. Apparently not all cashiers at stores *like* crazy couponers (or even sane people trying to use coupons) so we actually had a cashier at Walgreens who would stalk us around the store the ENTIRE time we were in there. Making sure we only bought things like one tube of toothpaste even if the deal needed a purchase of three (and other random restrictions). I mean, really?! Who tells people *without* coupons they can’t buy more than 2 shampoos?! :)

    1. I have seen those people with the binders full of coupons at the store. What I can’t understand is why that Walgreens employee cared so much about not giving you the deal. I mean, is she Ms. Walgreens herself and she doesn’t want to be out $3? So weird.

      1. That’s the thing, though – not even Walgreens would be out money the way all that stuff works! Argh! :)

  12. genericmessage · · Reply

    I was sent to the office for using the term “pussy footing around” I even used it correctly! Sadly my ignorant prof thought I was talking about the lady part he hasn’t seen EVER

    1. What a newb. Pussy-foot is totally g-rated.

  13. And here I was expecting a sappy and sentimental reminiscence on soda-jerks.
    Oh well.
    Off to check out Mooselicker…

    1. You don’t know Moosey?! How can this be? You’ll like him. He’s besties with Lily.

  14. The super-couponers scour Wal-greens every week. I’m actually on a list to receive a daily digest of all the deals around. I don’t know how I got on it, but it has been highly educational. People grab up all kinds of crap that they don’t actually need because it’s on sale. Or “free.” It’s kind of creepy. And if there’s ever a sale I’m interested in, forget it. Those toothbrushes are long gone, hoarded in the basement of a coupon queen, never to fulfill it’s toothbrush destiny. I digress…

    1. Congratulations on making me actually feel sad about toothbrushes ;) Those poor little things.

  15. Speaking of chewing gum in Mass, my brothers went to a Lutheran high school (with a Dominick’s AND a Jewel between our house and their school). One of them got sent home with a note from the principal explaining my brother’s hair was too long. It was written on the school stationery which had a logo with a long-haired Jesus. He hung out at the corner drug store for a day until my parents convinced him (my brother, not Jesus) to get it whacked off, quit sulking and go back to school. Drug stores are very interesting places! Thanks for another thought-provoking post.

    1. The irony of him getting a note about his long hair on stationary with hippy Jesus on it is way too much for me. My mind is literally blown! And we wonder why teenagers think grown-ups are hypocrites. ;) Thanks for reading, SSM!

  16. Canada has just eliminated the penny, which has reduced the time for little old ladies counting out their pennies at the cash. However, because stores round up or round down to the five cents, the time saved is consumed by little old ladies complaining about being ripped off two cents in change. It’s a zero gain (which is also Canada’s new motto).

Now you can hold the magic talking stick.

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