I don’t know who to blame for this, but I ended up doing a really dumb thing today.
It’s allergy season and more than half the people I know are having trouble with congestion, headaches, and an inability to not complain about being uncomfortable (myself included). I’m not sure how near to the edge I’ve pushed my coworkers and friends with my constant throat-clearing, but I imagine I’m moments away from the angry pointy end of a pair of their scissors to the back of my stuffed-up skull whenever I have a particularly bad tickle in the back of my throat. I’ve had enough of this, so I went to Flooreds* to get Floor-itin, the generic version of a popular brand allergy medicine. My girlfriend bought a bottle of Flor-itin for herself the other day for $15 which included twenty pills, so I wasn’t looking forward to spending my hard earned, throat-clearing money on something joyless like medicine, but it had to be done; I needed quick relief from the daily nightmarish mucus (free band name if you want it).
I walked to the back of the store where the allergy meds are and found the Floor-itin. Now here’s a quick disclaimer: I’m going to talk about some simple maths here, but there’s a point to it, so just hang tight. There on the shelf were the twenty capsules for $15, but then I saw thirty capsules for $18. Obviously, I chose the option that cost $3 more for a whopping fifty percent more capsules; that’s a sound economic decision if I’d ever seen one (and trust me, I’ve seen a lot of sound economic decisions). Then I noticed there was a larger bottle; one hundred and fifty capsules. Contrary to my desires, I intended on having allergies this entire summer, so I painfully looked at the price tag to see if maybe buying in bulk would be more economically feasible. They were surprisingly only $20 with a Flooreds card, 55% cheaper than their usual $45 price tag when not on sale.
A taser couldn’t have stunned me more.
I anxiously took the bottle of one fifty to the pharmacy counter and asked the clerk to ring it up to see if it was mislabeled. Surely the pack of thirty can’t be only $3 less than the pack of one fifty. There’s no logical way that makes any sense. I braced for the news I figured would come about them being $45 after all.
“Yeah, these are $20. They’re on sale right now. It won’t last, though, so stock up,” she said with a slight tone of disbelief at her own words.
I was genuinely embarrassed by how excited I was at the prospect of saving so much money on something I desperately needed to feel better. How could a drugstore deal on a bottle of generic medicine make me feel thishappy? I can have relief and I was saving so much money with this stupid deal. It was like someone walked up and gave me $25 and a little reassuring pat on the back for no reason. Ecstatic, I thanked the clerk and spun on my heel, huge smile on my face and a little more pep in my step than before. For the moment, I actually forgot that I was dizzy with congestion. I walked back to the shelf to put away the useless thirty pack I still had in my hand; sorry, dumb thirty pack, I can get 500% more pills for three extra dollars. You lose.
As I jauntily returned to the shelf, two girls had appeared in front of the Floor-itin boxes in the interim. They seemed to be looking directly at the thirty packs. Caught up in the moment and high on excitement, I forgot about all of my social anxiety and disinterest in talking to strangers and blurted out (in what I can only assume sounded like a child excitedly showing his mother the puppy he found on the side of the road), “One hundred and fifty capsules of Floor-itin are only $20 right now! But the deal won’t last so act fast!”
As soon as it left my mouth, my stomach turned. I HAD ACTUALLY JUST SAID “the deal won’t last, so act fast” TO COMPLETE STRANGERS. I DON’T EVEN WORK FOR FLOOREDS. The woman closest to me stared straight at the shelf, unflinching and clearly feeling awkward and understandably did not make eye contact. “Okay,” she said in a hesitant voice.
Sensing how weird I’d made the situation, I immediately walked into the neighboring isle to get away from it. My mistake was suddenly clear now. In my head, I envisioned this information as being on the level of knowing the coordinates to the Lost City of Atlantis or knowing if/where the Holy Grail existed. This was invaluable information to a frugal, snot-infested, allergic person struggling in the earliest days of summer. I assumed everyone was like me in this regard, even the women who had popped into the shop for a quick medicine purchase for who knows what reason(s). In my head, I envisioned them getting as excited as I was and then all of us celebrating the deal in the back corner of a Flooreds on our lunch hours. But what they actually experienced was an overly excited, bearded man pointing intensely at a bunch of drugs on a shelf and talking about how they needed to buy the largest amount possible and to do it RIGHT NOW. Mortified doesn’t accurately describe the feeling.
As soon as they both left the area, I went back to the shelf and put away the thirty pack of Floor-itin because even in complete and utter shame I refuse to intentionally misplace items on the store shelves the clerks spend so much time conditioning. All the excitement I felt before was instantly gone and replaced with shame and embarrassment. I was that weird dad-figure who finds a deal and it’s the high water mark of his day; he has college to pay for in a couple years and he embarrasses his kids as he announces the savings to the rest of the store.
I really don’t know who to blame for this, my body for not properly ridding itself of mucus and for creating so much that it congests my head and makes me feel bad or Flooreds for their impossibly good 55% markdown on a generic allergy medicine I desperately need to feel better. I acted fast and made a caricature of myself in a public setting, but unlike the deal, the shame will last past Saturday when the sale goes away (along with my dignity).
*I’m not buzz-marketing. The name has been changed.