Ever since I was a little girl, I have periodically played a game I like to call ‘What would happen if…’
The very first time I played this game I was 5 years old and riding in the car with my Mother. She had allowed me to sit in the front seat, but the novelty of that wore off rather quickly and I got bored. Almost immediately after we merged onto the expressway, I spied the car door handle. I thought to myself, I wonder what would happen if I opened the car door right now?
Would the door fly open? Or would it stay closed since the car was in motion? If it flew open, would the wind rip the door completely off of the car? My seatbelt was secure, so I was pretty sure I wouldn’t fly out of the car, but would anything else fly out? What would my Mother do?
I looked over at my Mother who was paying careful attention to the road and vaguely singing along with the radio. Then I looked over at the gleaming car handle. I knew that opening the door while we were driving was a very stupid and potentially dangerous thing to do, but it was almost as if the handle was calling my name. It wanted me to open it. I tried to resist, but my curiosity overwhelmed me. Slowly, I reached over…and opened the door.
Turns out the only thing that happens when you open the car door on the expressway is your Mother screams, “OH MY GOD! HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?” pulls over, closes your door, and then goes homes and bitches to your Father about her vehicle being unsafe and demands he buy her a new one.
It wasn’t the most exciting outcome in the world, but at least I knew.
This past Friday evening, I found myself inadvertently playing another game of ‘What would happen if…’
My husband has been dealing with a particularly nasty summer cold and it’s making it difficult for him to fall asleep. Shortly after midnight one evening, he asked me to run to the store and pick him up some medicine. I agreed because I’m nice like that.
After selecting a bottle of Nyquil and my Husband’s favorite brand of ice cream, it was time to check-out. I elected to go through the self check-out lane because the group of kids who normally jockeyed the registers looked thoroughly engrossed in a conversation about their parents sucking or their jobs sucking or who de-friended them on myspace recently or whatever and I didn’t want to interrupt them. Besides, I have two fully functioning arms. I am capable of scanning and bagging my own ice cream.
However, after I scanned my items, the computer started beeping.
“You have selected an age restricted item. Please wait for a cashier,” it said.
“What the Hell?” I mused, “Ice cream and Nyquil is age restricted now?”
A teenager with a lip piercing and bad dye job came rushing over. “Can I see your ID?” she chirped.
“What did I order that needs ID?” I asked.
She looked over my purchases and shrugged. “I guess it’s the Nyquil.”
I sighed deeply and handed her my driver’s license. She glanced at it quickly, typed my birthday into the computer, handed it back, and scurried away. Even though I didn’t show it, I was all kinds of annoyed.
I mean, what kind of nanny state am I living in right now? I can’t even buy cold medicine anymore without the government all up in my shit? Why is my right to privacy being invaded in favor of incompetent police officers who lack the ability to catch drug dealers without spying on the average law abiding citizen?
Then, out of nowhere, I thought, I wonder what would happen if I tried to buy all the Nyquil on the shelf?
Would they laugh? Would they get angry? Would they sell it to me? Would they call the cops? Would they interrogate me until I told them what it was for?
No matter how many years pass, I remain easily seduced by my curiosity. The harder I try to shake the wondering thoughts from my head, the more they burrow into my brain and demand recognition. By the time I got home from the grocery store, I simply had to know what would happen if I tried to buy an entire shelf full of Nyquil.
The next morning, I woke up bright and early with the intent of carrying out my plan. Now I’m not really sure how the typical Meth Head dresses, so I took a guess. I clad myself in an old T-shirt and a ripped pair of pants that were covered in paint. I pulled my hair back in a ratty ponytail and slipped on a pair of dirty sandals. My goal was to look as shady as possible without overdoing it.
Upon entering the store, I grabbed one of those hand-held shopping baskets and walked with single minded purpose over to the drug isle. I then proceeded to fill my basket with every bottle of Nyquil sitting on the shelf. There weren’t that many and I really wanted to be obvious, so I decided to buy all the generic versions as well. Then I marched my ass right over to the cashier and emptied my basket onto the conveyor belt. At first she wasn’t really paying attention as she grabbed bottle after bottle and flipped them through the scanner. Then a little light must have gone off in her head because she suddenly paused.
“Are these on sale or something?” she asked.
“Nope.” I replied noncommittally.
“I’m going to need to see your ID,” she responded.
“Sure.” I said as I handed it over.
“I’ll be right back,” she told me as she scampered over to the customer service desk to show my ID to who I assumed was the manager.
The guy in line behind me asked, “Someone sick?”
“I’m having a yard sale,” I replied. Yeah, my answer didn’t make much sense. But it was none of his business, so fuck him.
After about 10 minutes, the cashier came back and gave me my ID. Then she finished ringing me up and handed over two bags of Nyquil. “Um, have a nice day,” she said.
I thanked her politely and headed out to my car thinking to myself that the whole scenario ended up being fairly anticlimactic. This time, bending to the will of my curiosity earned me nothing more than 10 minutes of inconvenience and 25 bottles of unneeded Nyquil. Fucking fantastic.
I went home, unloaded my spoils onto my kitchen table and decided to take a nap on my couch. Right before I fell asleep, I thought to myself, I really need to stop playing that game.
A couple of hours later, my brother and his girlfriend woke me up.
“What the hell is with all the Nyquil?” he asked.
I told him about my game and how nothing really exciting happened. Then, he said, “Probably because you bought the wrong shit.”
I said, “Huh?”
With a smirk on his face, my brother explained, “The ingredient in Nyquil that is used to make crystal meth is called pseudoephedrine. But these don’t have it in them. Look! It even says right here on the front, ‘Now Made without pseudoephedrine.’
“Then why did they card me for them?”
“How the hell am I supposed to know? All I know is that you can’t make meth out of these.”
“Son of a bitch!” I exclaimed.
“You are the worst fake drug dealer ever,” my brother admonished.
His girlfriend cut in, “You know what you should get? Sudafed. They sell it behind the counter at the pharmacy and they probably won’t give you more than one or two. But it might be funny if you asked to exchange your Nyquil for 25 boxes of Sudafed.”
For me, failure tends to make me more determined, so I decided that was exactly what I was going to do. But, this time, I wanted to start my adventure with a bit more planning. I decided to call the grocery store and ask if it was even possible to return Nyquil since it was technically a medicine. The manager I spoke to assured me that as long as I had the receipt and the seal wasn’t broken, they would take it back.
So the next day, I packed up my bags of Nyquil and headed back to the grocery store. I plopped the bags on the counter of the customer service desk and amicably said, “I’d like to return these, please.”
The cashier looked shocked. “All of these?”
“Yes please,” I answered mildly, “Here is the receipt.”
“How many bottles are in here?”
“25? You bought 25 bottles of Nyquil? Why would you do that?” she asked.
“I wasn’t feeling well.” I answered.
“So why are you returning them now?” She countered.
I slightly hardened my voice. “I’m feeling better.”
“Normal people don’t buy 25 bottles of Nyquil!” she exclaimed.
“So?” I snapped.
She started stammering. “Well….its just that I don’t….I don’t know…if we can take this many back. We’d have to throw them away and….I….uh….”
“I called and spoke to a manager yesterday,” I informed her, “And he told me that as long as the seal wasn’t broken and I had the receipt, you would take them back.”
“Well I’m sure he didn’t know how many you bought!”
“Does it matter?” I questioned, “Is there some sort of store policy that states you can only return so many things at a time?”
“I’m going to get my manger,” she replied.
The manger came over, obviously perturbed, and we argued back and forth for a few minutes. Finally she said, “I’ll take them back this time. But next time, I won’t.”
“That’s fine by me,” I agreed.
I filled out a form with my name, address, and phone number, got my cash back and walked directly over to the pharmacy.
An older lady walked over to wait on me. “Can I please buy some Sudafed?” I requested.
“Sure!” she said as she held out her hand, “I’m going to need some proof that you’re over 18, though.”
“That’s fine,” I told her, “But I’m going to need more than one.”
“How many do you need?”
“No, 25 boxes.”
I’m not sure if my answer extremely shocked her or extremely angered her, but her response was to shriek, “NO!”
Calmly, I asked, “Why not?”
“NO!” she bellowed again.
“But why not?” I repeated.
“BECAUSE OF THE METH!” she hollered.
I smiled a little and said, “I promise I won’t use it to make meth.”
A concerned Pharmacist walked around the counter. “What seems to be the problem here?” he questioned.
“I’m just trying to by some Sudafed.” I answered.
The cashier squawked again, “NO! YOU CAN’T HAVE ANY!”
And I was supposed to be the crazy one!
The Pharmacist gave her a confused look and she said to him, “She wants 25 boxes!”
“Whoa, wait a minute, ma’am!” he said to me.
Just then, out of the corner of my eye, I realized that the manager who did my return and a couple of stock boys were walking up behind me. They were closing in on me!
I thought to myself what better time to walk away, all shifty, like I was a real drug dealer than now. So I abruptly did an about-face and briskly started striding towards the door.
The Pharmacist tried to stop me. “Ma’am!” he called after me, “Ma’am! I’m going to need you to come back here! Ma’am!”
Seriously, I couldn’t believe he actually thought I would fall for that. I mean, what am I? 12 years old? Did he actually think I would be naïve enough to believe that a goddamn Pharmacist had the legal right to forcibly detain me in a grocery store?
But the ridiculousness of the situation was only a fleeting thought in my mind. At that precise moment, I had more pressing matters to concern myself with. Namely, how I was going to shake the manager and the stock boy goons who were in the process of following me out of the store.
I increased my walking speed a little and made it outside. I paused for a second, thinking the chase was over, but I was wrong. The manager had tailed me into the parking lot. Frantically, she started waving the cart boys over to her and pointing in my direction. Before I knew it, I had a small army of grocery store employees following me around the parking lot. It was fucking surreal. I felt like I was starring in the deleted scenes of one of those Terminator movies.
My theory was that they were waiting until I got into my car so they could write down my license plate number. To me, this was odd, considering the fact that they had my name, address, and phone number written on a slip of paper behind the customer service desk.
Anyway, I finally thwarted them for good by electing to simply walk home. Because I live a couple of miles from the grocery store, I decided to call my brother.
“Hey, if the cops show up at my door, do not let them in without a warrant,” I told him, “That’s a violation of my 4th amendment rights!”
“No problem.” He said. He’s learned to quit asking questions.
The end result of my little escapade, however, produced no angry police officers ruthlessly pounding on my door. In fact, outside of a couple of grocery store employees who briefly pretended to be Rambo, nothing really exciting happened at all.
All in all, I ended up fairly disappointed with my most recent game of ‘What would happen if….’ You see, that’s the problem with letting yourself become randomly consumed by curiosity. Things rarely live up to your expectations.