I am an executive member of Costco. That’s right baby, executive, as in equipped to make weighty decisions, to execute plans, to enforce. I have the black card, not that wimpy white one. The door nazis smile and nod at my exit, making a perfunctory swipe at my receipt with their marker, winking slyly because we both know what’s really going on. I know the sample people by name, and always remember to ask about their kids, even if they don’t have any; the name tags help.
It’s a difficult responsibility, as the Burgermeister would say, but somebody’s got to do it. Now ladies, I know how aroused you get by all that power concentrated in one single man, but unfortunately I’m not single, and I’m afraid that Mrs. Executive would take a pretty dim view of you expressing said arousal; so, let’s just try to control ourselves, shall we?
During my tenure as an Executive, it’s fallen upon me to make some hard decisions: honey roasted or oven roasted turkey? Golden Girls Season 3 or Tora! Tora! Tora! ? Too much ketchup or too much mustard? But nothing has challenged my executive skills so keenly as the Pharmaceutical Volume Problem (henceforth referred to as the PVP).
Now I understand that Costco is an American corporation, born and bred to bigness and volume. How much bigness and volume? Let’s just put it this way: their marketing department has to use the cosmological constant in their forecasts. So they’re big – I get that – and normally I wouldn’t tinker with a fundamental force like Costco, but the PVP may require my executive intervention. Let me recount the tremendous effort I’ve already expended to remedy this problem, and then I think you’ll agree that I really have no choice.
I’ve been known to take medicine that has passed its expiration date. I’ve taken aspirin that had apparently transmuted into vinegar, and despite dire warnings from Mrs. Executive about internal organ damage, I’ve taken even stronger concoctions that have passed on to their medicinal reward. But even I have my limits.
Just how many families can go through 600 Allergy tablets (aka Benadryl) before they expire? Even at 50 mg, that’s 300 doses: enough to put a small town to sleep.
While researching this post, I went online to find out just how dangerous Benadryl is, and the answer seemed to be, generally speaking, not very. I found accounts from various industrial drug users and suicide survivors about taking up to 100 pills in two days and living to tell the tale: they were talking to trees, but they were okay. Assuming these folks are in the minority, how does one utilize that many pills? Aspirin is my panacea for a host of ailments, but 500 of them?!
See, I hate wastefulness. The throw-away mentality of our society sickens me, but then I found I was questioning my own body for symptoms:
Me: You feelin okay?
Me: Yeah, I feel fine.
Me: You sure? Don’t you have a little twinge of pain there in your temple? Might be a headache coming on.
Me: I’m fine. Go away.
Me: I can’t. I’m you.
Me: Know what? I am getting a headache.
Me: Told ya.
Obviously, something drastic was in order.
Being resourceful, my first thought was to look for alternate uses for all those pills, sort of like what George Washington Carver did with the peanut. Since I have artistic delusions of grandeur, my mind naturally turned to a more creative use for my little round friends than simple symptom-masking. By this time it was about 3:00 AM, and rather than ingest the Benadryl, I put on some spacey, ambient music and began playing with them instead. Here’s what happened:
Though I was pleased with my artistic endeavors, harsh reality was waiting for me the next morning: when I showed my creations to a local art dealer, she laughed at me and called me a “pill pusher”. I pelted her with a handful of enteric aspirin and stormed out. Obviously, Portland wasn’t ready for my vision, and there wasn’t enough wall space in our small house to display my work.
Days passed, and I was painfully aware that the various expiration dates were drawing closer and closer. The fact that those dates were almost two years away made no difference; the pressure was relentless. I developed a hangnail, and had to do a self-intervention to avoid taking a couple of aspirin for it. I was having trouble sleeping, and though I didn’t want to resort to the Benadryl, my resistance was weakening.
And then the answer came to me on a restless night, while I tossed and turned in a state of half-sleep where the moon in the sky looked like a giant aspirin.
The solution was simple, as they always are in dreams, and not only would it solve the PVP, it might just help with our anemic cash flow as well. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it before: I would become Pharmer Rod.
Early next morning, I put on my overalls, got out the hoe, and in the time-honored tradition of my ancestors, I prepared the soil with the aim of bringing forth its bounty.
I’ve done some gardening in my time, but never have I planted one of the pharmaceutical variety. I used my best instincts for the pill spacing and depth, as well as the row spacing.
After thoroughly wetting down the soil, I went back inside and fell asleep to dreams of aspirin vines and Benadryl bushes.
But something was wrong. Though I kept my garden well watered and the sunlight was good, nothing seemed to be happening. Maybe August is a bad time to plant pills. I needed expert advice, and in Portland, the best place to find that is on 82nd Avenue; I just knew there had to be a pharmer’s market there, probably several. It was a long search, and though I got several interesting offers from some garishly clad females, I couldn’t find one pharmer. I had almost given up, when at last I came across an old-timer who was willing to talk to a greenhorn. After I bought him a beverage at the Drink n’ Drive, he agreed to share his secrets with me. And it was there, under the hum and rumble of the I-205 overpass, that he told me the sad truth.
“It’s the GMO’s, man.”
“What do you mean?”
“Dude, it’s the big corporations. They own everything. They make it so your pills won’t pop.”
“You mean they’re sterile?”
“Fraid so, man. One time deal. Planned obsolescence.”
“Yeah. And don’t let them catch you plantin’ expired pills, either. That’s what happened to me.”
Suddenly, I felt that nothing made sense, and that I was in way over my head. Executive or not, I was placing my family in grave danger. In the middle of the night, I dug up my garden and surreptitiously slipped it into the neighbor’s trash can.
But all those pills remain, and every passing day brings us closer to E-day. Should I flex my executive muscle, maybe put an anonymous note in the complaint box? Costco is a delicately balanced machine, a lynchpin of reality as we know it. I could be setting events in motion that would snowball into something truly catastrophic. But I have to do something, because I don’t want to end up like this: