Monday, November 21, 2011

Weird science. Not what teacher said to do.

At this point in my life, I don't actually think there's anything available in a drug or grocery store that I'd be embarrassed to take to the register.

Seriously. I've bought plenty of things that might make people twitchy: Condoms. Dipping tobacco. Ovulation tests. Pregnancy tests. Sperm-friendly lube. Fiber powders. Laxatives. Stool softeners. Preparation H.

I just can't think of other products that might embarrass me. In fact, the last time I can remember being embarrassed checking out of a store was a couple years ago at a Trader Joe's.

And along these lines, it wouldn't have occurred to me that anything could shock me at the register either.

So last week, I found myself standing behind a man buying three cartons of Marlboros. And two giant bottles of Pepto Bismol.

The cashier said, "$210.37."

At which point I got really interested. Seriously? That much? And who knew they made Pepto Bismol in what practically look like liter bottles?

The man pulled out a large wad of cash. His hands were shaking severely, but he managed to give her two $100 bills. And then, pile of cash in hand, he kept checking his various pockets for the rest of the money.

It was a long process. I was starting to think I was going to be there all day. But I was also rather interested in the scene.

Does he always carry big wads of cash? Does he really smoke that much? What's the deal with the Pepto Bismol?

She eventually reached across the counter and took a $10 bill and a $1 bill out of his hand, telling him as she was doing so. I was so grateful. It was painful to watch him struggle. I couldn't imagine him counting out 37 cents.

She double-bagged his purchase, and then he kept asking for more and more bags. I think he had at least four or five by the time she turned her attention to me.

What does he need with all those bags?

He was still puttering around as I was getting ready to walk out.

I told Nick about this very heavy smoker. He said not to be naive; the man clearly does crack, and crack tears up your stomach and gives you instant diarrhea.

The cigarettes? Probably to calm him and his cronies. The bags? No speculation.

He said it so authoritatively that I totally believed him. Even though I know for a fact that his only real-life experience with crack is watching David do crack with the crazy hitchhiker on Six Feet Under.

But I don't have a better theory.


  1. Ohhh, interesting encounter! I hope the stranger is not on crack, that would be sad, dangerous drug. I don't have a better theory, honestly Nick does seem to have some good theories on abstract topics.

    As a teen I was embarrassed going to the drug store with my Dad. He would buy 3 cartons of bar soap in order to save 3 cents. Which is fine, except the cashier was usually a classmate and a cute boy. I imagine the cute boy thought - how dirty is that family? I was mortified!

  2. Long time reader, first time poster.

    Crack cocaine use has many short-term physiological effects on the body that can lead to long-term complications. Upon ingestion, it constricts blood vessels, dilates the pupils and increases body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure. Blood vessel constriction reduces blood supply to the intestines leading to diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea and inflammation.

  3. HK - The guy was just so twitchy that I feel like it was definitely something.

    That is so funny! When probably all he was thinking was how cute you were.

    And I can SO relate! I would be mortified when my dad would make us go with him to get bargains on toilet paper.

    Amateur - Thanks very much for the edification. Now that I'm thinking about it, the high must be amazing to deal with the rest of it.

  4. wow its kinda freaky when someone enlightens you about something you have seen. I remember being in Australia and seeing this middle aged lady, nicely dressed but with horrible sores all over her legs (she was wearing a knee length dress. I was telling my sister about it a while later , sister is a nurse, and she informed me the lady was most likely a drug addict and the sores were from the heroin use. Apparently lesions are a side effect. Yuck!!

  5. Your blog is continuously and relentlessly informative about the most random stuff, I never notice what's going on around me, so I'm sure I'm missing a LOT of weird druggie behavior around me. Also, how Nick knows the stuff he knows just amazes me.
    And when did cigarettes get so expensive in the US?

  6. Nick is a font of useful information, isn't he?

    I once got a knowing look and nod from the cashier at the Lowe's on 15-501 when I checked out with a funnel, hose clamp and three feet of plastic tube. He (correctly) didn't believe me when I told him it was to change my oil.

  7. Go-Betty - Wow. That's terrible. It's a world I'm so far removed from that whenever I encounter stuff like this, I'm always shocked.

    Moomser - I often miss the really important things, and I never know what's going on on the news...because I'm so focused on the bizarre little things that happen all the time.

    And I don't have a frame of reference, but apparently there was a big tax imposed in the last couple years that really upped the prices? I think?

    FoggyDew - You just made me laugh. And transported me back to college. I haven't heard 15-501 in decades.

    Also, I wish you'd told him you were really constipated.

  8. Nevermind the crack, how the hell can anyone afford to smoke cigarettes these days? $200?!!!?


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