It’s quite a racket really. A multi-billion dollar industry feeding off one of our most basic of needs… the need to feel better. Fast. Proctor and Gamble, Johnson and Johnson, Bayer, Halls and Kleenex (just to name a few) have us right where they want us.
Standing in the cold and flu aisle at Rite-Aid last night my head was spinning. Perhaps it was the sinus pressure or just a good buzz from the expired Dayquil I had consumed hours earlier. But I actually suspect that I felt faint due to the ginormous, yellow price tags beneath all of the items I needed to purchase in order to feel relatively human again.
$10 for a 4-ounce jar of Vicks Vapor Rub? Yeah, we here at Rite-Aid think that’s a fair price. $7.99 for 12 sore throat lozenges (with magical healing vapors, don’t forget)… Halls believes thats reasonable. $16 for a combined package of Dayquil and Nyquil (the-nightime-sniffling-sneezing-coughing-aching-best-sleep-you-ever-got-with-a-cold) cold medicine—the mere 6-day supply… Proctor and Gamble considers that two-for-one deal a real bargain! And you know what? Of course they can charge whatever the hell they want to because by the time we’re actually standing IN THE AISLE of the store, our judgement has already been severely impaired by our insufferable symptoms.
So basically the small blue basket hanging on my arm that is barely one-third of the way full is worth my entire paycheck. Hmmmm… how badly do I want to feel better? If I don’t get some relief, I won’t sleep. If I don’t sleep, I won’t do a good job at work. If I don’t do a good job at work, I’ll lose my job… leaving me broke and penniless and unable to purchase this outrageously-overpriced shit in the first place. It truly IS a dilemma.
I settle on a compromise of buying ALL generic and only the necessities. I selectively choose to address the ability to breathe, the ability to swallow without the sensation of downing shards of broken glass, and some assistance with sleep. Oh and some assurance that I won’t fly into a sneezing fit during the next staff meeting and risk being mistaken for an epileptic in the midst of a gran mal seizure.
Let’s face it, when it’s all said and done and the 10 days that the “common cold” takes to “run its course” are up… I am left with the remains of these costly items. They’ll wind up in a box or on a shelf or tucked waaaaaay in the back of a cabinet somewhere. They’ll join the ranks among the other useless, dried-up, crusty members of my ever-growing collection of expired jars, tubes, bottles, blister packs and baggies that are cluttering up random corners of my home because for reasons beyond my comprehension, I refuse to throw them away.
And this small fortune will sit there—gathering dust—until A. I move. Or B. I need to make room for another year’s cache of cold remedies. Or C. I am hospitalized for consuming some antihistamines that were around during the Clinton administration.