Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Drugstores or convenience stores filling prescriptions as a sideline

Where else would the pharmacy be?

The sky was overcast, but a rather pleasant day last week when I pulled into the parking lot at my favorite cafe and headed for the entrance. Seconds later, I noticed the well-dressed older woman seated on a bench where she contentedly puffed smoke directly into my path. Except for the smoking, she appeared calm and sophisticated. The elegant way she held her cigarette reminded me of ads in the old days promoting Kools, Newports, Pall Malls, or whatever. She seemed oblivious to society’s increasing disapproval of nicotine addicts. I caught a whiff of her second-hand smoke as I walked past her and hastened inside.

The above smoker reminded me of my recent experience when looking for over-the-counter cold medication. I don’t often go to “drugstores” as I’m a military veteran and get my prescriptions from the local VA pharmacy, which is several miles from my home. I felt weak that day, and my nose was dripping from a cold, so I decided to go to the nearby Walgreens. Covering my nose with a tissue, I stepped inside and looked around. Just as I remembered, tobacco products were directly behind the counter near the entrance, and candy was in the first aisle. The pharmacy and over-the-counter meds were located at the back of the store in the furthest aisle.

My consciousness raised since I started using a cane, I asked a couple of employees why their store's layout made it difficult for customers suffering from various illnesses and the disabled. They had no explanation, and I left without buying anything.

Next time I needed something from a drugstore, I tried CVS and true to its word, CVS does not sell tobacco products. But like Walgreens, the pharmacy and over-the-counter medications are located as far away from the entrance as possible. On that occasion, it occurred to me that “drugstores” are little more than convenience stores - out to make a buck - with the added lure of a pharmacy tucked away in the back of the store. One can only conjecture that the location of the pharmacy in these so-called drugstores is a marketing ploy designed to entice sick or handicapped people to buy things on their way there.

The older woman, smoking contentedly in front of the cafe that day, can likely rest assured that Walgreens will continue to supply her with cigarettes. In the future, if she needs medication to treat her lung or throat cancer, maybe her favorite drugstore will provide wheelchairs to enable its ailing customers to get to the pharmacy located in the rear.

Wonder if Walgreens has ever glimpsed the irony over the years in calling itself a drugstore while selling tobacco products up front and filling prescriptions in the back?

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