Tuesday, October 26, 2004

It's Ecker-demic!

I ran an errand the other day involving the Store Formerly known as Eckerd's. You're probably wondering why, considering how many times (and in what great detail) I have complained about the service in that store. You're figuring I must've had a large block of unstructured time, or perhaps that I had entered the Witness Protection Program, and no organized criminal has enough time to waste looking for people in the Eckerds. Really I was just trying to obtain an antibiotic for the three-year-old. And yes, you could make the argument that it would've been quicker to purchase the drug from Tajikistan, delivered illegally to Canada, and trasnported to Florida on the next trip south by a Toronta area snowbird. But as I entered the store, my adrenaline involuntarily kicked in. I was the only customer in the store! (I will not engage in frivolous speculation as to WHY.) But I was not alone. There were about 10 store personnel hanging around in clumps discussing their plans for the weekend. (Our regularly scheduled hurricane was canceled.) Who would've thought the Store Formerly Known as Eckerd's even had that many people on the payroll! Normally you see a dozen or so customers being attended to by one lonely underaged cashier with a Math Disability, a Coupon Reading Comprehension Problem a and Receipt-Issuing Disorder. Apparently the rest of the personnel all hang out in the back socializing and mislabeling the merchandise. The group greeted me with a cheerful "good morning." Now in actual point of fact it was after 4 p.m., so the sun had to be at least past Denver. So I did not synchronize my watch with them. But this is part of the store's problem. NO VALID CONCEPTION OF TIME. But I am not trying to be overly critical. I enjoy cheerful greetings. I don't care if people are wishing me Happy Kwanzaa in July or just muttering "Remember the Alamo" with a smile. When I arrived at the pharmacy department there were THREE pharmacy personnel available. Some combination of Pharmacist, Aspiring Pharmacist and Teenager With a Firm Grip on Aspirin. Or maybe they were just Pill Packers. They were busy filling orders. Someone had just made eye contact with me when It Happened. Two cars zipped into the drive-through lanes. One was a police car, so of course he got immediate service. The other car turned out to be a woman with a hopelessly complicated situation involving a Partial Pickup, Weird Payment Plan, and Multiple Potential Interactions. To make matters worse, she hadn't pulled up close enough to the outdoor microphone, so she was leaning halfway out of her car window (torso precariously balanced), shouting the details of her medical history at the box. Due to persistent static the pharmacist had to repeat herself several times (loudly) in order to be heard by the Woman Dangling From Her Car. I was tempted to cover my ears with all that extra Privacy Act Paperwork that was hanging around, but this conversation was so loud that I figured the Walgreens across the street could hear her and would probably have her order ready faster. By the time it was over there were several people in line behind me enjoying the intimate details of Dangling Woman's medical history. Meanwhile one of the assistant pill packers decided to wait on me, even though I figured my son's illness would have run its course by the time I was out of there. I asked for the Automobile Club discount. The pharmacist harrumphed at my card. She sighed at the card-swiping unit. She smirked at the computer display. She kept pushing buttons that caused the screen to blink with a greenish disco-strobe effect. She tsked tsked, and handed my card back. "It won't go through," she explained. "I guess we don't offer the Triple A discount anymore." I guess not! Why else would anyone shop at the Store Formerly Known as Eckerd's? And why do they not helpfully inform the pharmacy personnel of such changes so they don't each have to perform the Blinking Screen Routine? Well never mind. I paid full price. As I left with my purchase, the Pharmacy Woman wished me a "good night!" I did not point out that it was still (by some miracle) daylight out. But this does illustrate that the personnel who work there do not operate on the same space/time continuum that the rest of us do. They live in a Parallel, but Slightly Groggy Reality in which there is an endless supply of time. When you run out, they just give you more Free Time, which you can use to wait in the store contemplating the medical histories of your fellow customers. If I were a death row inmate, my last wish would be a trip to the Store Formerly Known as Eckerd's.

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