RSS Feed

Lock and Load

Spring has come early to the Northeast and along with the warm temperatures and the early blooming trees comes the inundation of pollen and the subsequent sniffling, sneezing and sinus headaches. Many allergy sufferers rely on antihistamines and decongestants to get them through the worst of their symptoms and I’m no exception. As the pollen count rises, so too does the number of pills I pop to get some relief. In the good old days, I could count on buying pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) in warehouse-sized packages that would tide me over for the entire spring allergy season. Now, thanks to drug dealers skilled in concocting homemade methamphetamine, I can only buy my allergy medication in small quantities if I’m willing to sign my life away.

In an effort to curb the flow of methamphetamine into the world of illegal drugs, the government has made it difficult to obtain pseudoephedrine, the active ingredient in the decongestant Sudafed and a key component in the creation of meth. Because of these restrictions, innocent, sniffling, stuffy-headed allergy sufferers like me can only get their pseudoephedrine from behind the pharmacy counter. We must present photo identification, provide our addresses and sign our names to this information which will then be kept in a database for two years. Apparently, the technology for retinal scanning was cost prohibitive. In addition, there are strict limits placed on the amount of pseudoephedrine we can purchase over the course of a single month. The days of buying jumbo sized packages of Sudafed are over.

Several times a month during allergy season, I return to the pharmacy counter to begin hoarding my monthly allotment. With a head full of mucus and a shopping cart full of extra soft tissues with lotion, I ask for my drugs and submit to the grand inquisition.  Between sneezes, I ask if there is any way I can purchase a few extra doses to prevent me from having to return each week. To prove that I couldn’t possibly make meth, I’ve offered to provide the pharmacist a copy of my high school transcript showing the “D” that I received in my chemistry class. No amount of sneezing, wheezing or lack of understanding of chemistry could play on his sympathies and convince him to sell me just a bit more of my drug of choice.

As if all this hassle to get medication during the height of allergy season isn’t bad enough, criminal entrepreneurs are now interfering with my dirty laundry. They have discovered that the pricey laundry detergent Tide has great street value and is a hot item on the black-market. These masterminds steal bottles of Tide then resell the ill-gotten suds in less than reputable stores, flea markets or out of the trunks of their cars at laundromats. Bargain hunters with laundry to do purchase this easily recognized, expensive, brand-name detergent at a substantially reduced price. Thanks to the five-finger discount, the purveyors of this detergent have no pesky overhead charges eating into the profits. Newly flush with cash, these peddlers hightail it to their “pharmacists” to get their drugs of choice, and you can bet they won’t be filling out any forms. It’s a win-win for everyone, except the stores that are being ripped off.

I would never make it in the criminal underworld; I’m just not clever enough. It would never occur to me to steal a bright orange, heavy, bulky bottle of laundry detergent and resell it. It’s really a brilliant plan though, illegal, but brilliant. You’ve got to admire the ingenuity behind this trend. Everyone does laundry so it is easy to get rid of the stolen merchandise. Laundry detergent doesn’t have serial numbers so it is untraceable. I’m not a lawyer, but I’d be willing to bet that the punishment for shoplifting laundry detergent is less severe than those for stealing high ticket items like jewelry, electronics and cars. Someone trying to sell multiple pieces of jewelry or a luxury car might arouse suspicion, but if someone gets pulled over with a trunk full of Tide, they probably can’t be arrested for possession with intent to sell, especially if the car is filled with dirty clothes.

Thanks to this cleaning supply crime spree, stores are considering security systems for Tide. I don’t know if that means there will be those little sensors that department stores put on clothing to trigger an alarm or if the Tide will be kept under lock and key requiring a store employee to retrieve it. Whatever method stores choose to use to protect themselves, it is certain to make my grocery shopping experience even more irritating. Instead of just waiting in the line at the pharmacy, I’ll also get to wait in line in the household cleaner aisle waiting for someone to unlock the detergent.

Criminals have made allergy season even more miserable for law-abiding allergy sufferers and now they are working their way into our dirty clothes hampers. I’ve given this some thought and realize that there are fewer restrictions for buying alcohol. As long as I can prove that I am 21 years old, I can buy as much liquor as I would like, as often as I would like, without the state batting an eye in my direction. Perhaps what I really need to do is bypass the pharmacy and household cleaner aisle and head to the liquor store. I can get drunk and forget about my allergies and the dirty laundry.

About Paprika Furstenburg

I was born with an overly developed sense of humor and poor coordination. The combination of these two character traits has taught me humility and given me the perspective to find the funny in everyday experiences.

52 responses »

  1. Seriously. I think it might be easier to score meth, than it is to buy Claritin-D these days!

    This is what happens when we legislate for the Village Idiot.

    Reply
  2. I am blessed with a merely inconvenient level of allergies. And I can’t take any drugs for it: their effect on me is worse than the malady itself. Well, I guess this is one of two things I can appreciate about winter: the other is no mosquitoes.

    Reply
    • Wow! Only a merely inconvenient level of allergies. What’s that like? I look at people who aren’t sneezing, wheezing and scratching like they have superpowers that make them impervious to pollen. I can only dream…

      No mosquitoes is one of the few things winter has going for it. Good point 🙂

      Reply
  3. I know what ya mean. I have horrid allergy symptoms this time of year, but to buy pseudoephedrine I have to go to a pharmacist, show my driver’s license, and sign a statement. It irks the crap outta me. That’s because I know meth makers have groups of meth heads they send into drug stores to buy the stuff for them so they can keep making their product.

    I dunno. Meth labs are wicked bad around this part of the world, especially in the rural areas. They tell me as bad as it is, it would be worse without this procedure. But I’m not so sure. Druggies always find a way to get what they want.

    Reply
    • Our pharmacist told us that the meth makers send multiple people to multiple stores to get what they need to produce the drug. I completely understand why the authorities felt the need to put the restrictions in place, but as you said, people who want drugs find a way to get them. It’s the people who follow the rules who are standing in line blowing their noses while they’re waiting to buy medicine.

      Reply
  4. The last suggestions is how I usually get through it all. A good glassof wine or better yet bottle u sually erases all evidence of frustration

    Reply
  5. Laundering laundry detergent! What’s next, black market fabric softener?

    Reply
  6. I was glad when my household fully kicked the pseudo-ephedrine habit a couple of years ago. It got just plain ridiculous. But laundry detergent on the black market? Really? Hm…that is a rather convenient excuse to quit washing 1-2 loads of dirty laundry every day. Looks like a great year for either nudity or deodorant. I’m leaning toward nudity myself.

    Reply
  7. So true. I’m not creative enough (or maybe it’s stupid enough) to be a criminal either. The Tide thing is really bizarre. It is a sad state of affairs when it is easier to get booze than allergy meds and laundry detergent.

    Reply
    • If only they could use their powers of creativity and ingenuity for legitimate purposes, we could all live in a world where we are free to consume as much booze, detergent and allergy medication as we’d like.

      Reply
  8. I was stunned recently when I discovered that the Aleve is now in an area that looks like it’s locked down. Actually, you can lift the lid and take one out. But I was told not to have the lid up for too long. Maybe an alarm goes off and you’re surrounded by militia with AK47s. I don’t know. The alcohol run sounds like a winner. Ginger brandy and ginger ale is supposed to be great for colds – not so sure about allergies.
    Cheers! (old proverb) “I’ll drink to your health and ruin my own.”

    Reply
    • I’ve never seen the Aleve in a special container. It seems like a cruel joke. A lot of people with arthritis take Aleve, maybe the store is just messing with them and having fun trying to watch them get it out of the container. You imagined a militia with AK 47s and I imagined ninjas dropping from the ceiling. To each her own.

      The alcohol solution seems to cure a lot of ills. Cheers right back at you 🙂

      Reply
  9. Tearing up over all of this: the hilarious post, the allergies, the funny comments. enjoyed it…well, not really enjoying the allergies – but the rest, yes!

    Reply
  10. And I thought Ireland was bad for interrogating people when trying to buy medication over the pharmacy counter 🙂

    Reply
  11. Preach it, sister! http://wp.me/p1se8R-1VN I suffer from bad allergies both in the springtime (Damn you, Bradford Pears) and in the fall and, like you, wonder if it isn’t somehow easier to buy crystal meth than it is to buy some Benadryl! I’m going to seriously consider your liquor store idea … the lines are shorter there, too.

    Reply
  12. I will happily make the pharmacy run and pass you my share too…can’t take the stuff or my heart races. I vote for the good stiff drink! Meet you at the local bar for a trade? Ohhh somehow this is starting to sound a bit like we are in for trouble! LOL!

    Reply
  13. Several years ago I wrote a letter to the editor regarding the restriction on claritin, spelling out there are no restrictions or id required to purchase ak 47’s or high powered rifles that can take out a commercial aircraft.
    BUT this sneezing sniffling senior citizen can’t buy claritin-d!!

    Reply
    • When I finished writing this post, Oregano reminded me about that letter you wrote. The pharmacist told me that the sad truth is that the people making meth send multiple people to multiple stores in a single day to purchase their supplies while allergy sufferers who legitimately need the medication have to keep returning to the pharmacy. Some things just don’t make sense.

      Reply
  14. You could always try the natural solution, make it all run out at once (messy but successful in most cases).

    Scotch Bonnet pepper crushed (with half the seeds) mixed in with you tomato juice and Gin (yes, somewhat of a Bloody Mary you can replace Gin with Tequila). The alcohol will knock you out after the Scotch Bonnet causes all the mucus to clear (believe me it will run down your face in profusion along with tears).

    Great job!

    Reply
    • After I read your first sentence, I thought you were talking about a Netti pot as the natural solution. Using that makes it all run out at once in a less than attractive way.

      Although it does sound tempting, I think I’ll pass on your Scotch Bonnet pepper remedy. The experience sounds worse than the allergies.

      Reply
    • I’m a huge “pusher” of the nasal rinse kit (rather than the gravity-fed netti pot). It has saved me in seasonal allergies. But that concoction? Delightful!

      Reply
      • I may have to try that nasal rinse kit. The netti pot was helpful during fall allergy season, but it is such an odd thing to do. It’s like I’m holding Aladdin’s lamp and instead of waiting for the genie to come out and grant me a wish I’m waiting for mucus to run out.

      • I’m not at all the waiting type — mines the squeeze bottle, as fast or as slow as I prefer. All my friends choose to stay in allergy hell because it’s too “weird.” Fine. I’d rather be weird than allergic.

      • The netti pot was weird, but I think it made a difference. I’m sure the saline rinse has similar resutls. Thanks for sharing that tip 🙂

  15. These are the times that try women’s noses. With my highly developed guilt complex, I’m sure I feel more culpable buying my two little boxes of pseudophedrine than the meth-maker does mixing up his brew in the sink. If drinking didn’t make me even more stuffy, it would make a sensible option. Maybe if I gargle with the booze?

    Reply
    • I never feel guilty buying my pseudoephedrine when I am standing there red-nosed and puffy-eyed. You can be sure that the meth makers are sleeping soundly at night and are not worrying about how much pseudoephedrine they’ve purchased.

      I don’t recommend gargling with the booze; it might burn a bit.

      Reply
  16. Your most recent essay brings to mind my friend’s oft-cited (by himself) suggestion of having velcro “handkerchiefs” for children. They would merely attach to a little one’s forearm to be quickly available for runny noses during allergy season. You might say relief would always be “at arms reach.” They would also serve to protect shirt sleeves from the all to familiar swipe. A parent (or other caregiver) would then merely have to detach the “hanky” and toss it in the wash in order to prepare for the next day’s convenience. However, you rightly point out the shortcomings of such an “invention” if one was not able to obtain their necessary fix of Tide.

    Reply
    • I hope your velcro hankies come in different sizes. I’ve seen some kids go to town with their sleeves and swipe from wrist to shoulder.

      Being able to obtain Sudafed more easily might render your hanky idea obsolete since it would stop the flow at the source. Then you wouldn’t really need the hanky or the Tide to wash it.

      Reply
  17. I’m lucky that my son’s allergies are kept well in check with Zyrtec and I don’t have to worry about it too much. I remember having to sign for Mucinex once when the pediatrician prescribed it for my son. Good luck to you. Hope it won’t get too bad this allergy season.

    Reply
    • I’m glad Zyrtec works for your son’s allergies. It can be a miserable time of year if the allergies get out of control. It’s funny. I wait all winter to get outside and when I finally do I sneeze, wheeze and itch. They are predicting a prolonged spring allergy season because of our mild winter. I don’t know who “they” are, but that’s their prediction. It’s a small, temporary price to pay to get to enjoy flowers and trees.

      Reply
  18. Paprika, your reasoning is sound. I will share a toast with you — cheers! Because Tide makes me incredibly itchy and then I wouldn’t even be able to get allergy medication. I would be toast.

    Funny post, as always. Thanks for adding to my neuroses.

    Reply
  19. Sign me up for a pharmacy run for you! I don’t have allergies! And you can have my allotment!! xox

    Reply
  20. Not a bad solution (alcohol)! During my husband’s recent bout with a sinus infection, I found out that MucinexD is also locked up behind the counter. I want to know how drug dealers came up with this formula. Did one of them have allergies and say, hey, let’s try this and make everyone nuts? Perhaps one of them got an A in chemistry!

    Reply
  21. You are the next Erma Bombeck. Paprika, you really need to get an agent and market yourself. If I don’t see you on the Today show in the next 6 months, I’ll have to take matters into my own hands. BTW, my commission will be 5% instead of the usual 10% the agents require. 🙂

    Reply
    • Thanks for the wonderful compliment, Laura. No agents, publishers or producers from the Today show have come knocking on my door, so if you’re applying for the job as my agent, you’re hired at your previously indicated rate of commission.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: