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.