Saturday, September 02, 2006

Both the Federal Government And The Entire Plant Kingdom Are Now My Enemies.

So, as you may have gathered from the post about plants trying to have sex in my nose, my allergies are killing me at the moment. We've had astonishing, almost freakish amounts of rain this year, and the local plant life is flourishing like crazy. Desert plants are opportunistic bastards; when they're actually getting moisture, they damned well take advantage of it. It's pretty much the Day of the Triffids out there right now.

I've found that the only way I have even a remote hope of managing to get any sleep is to take my heavy-duty prescription allergy pill and then add a decongestant on top of it. Last night, I took the last decongestant in the box, so today I went out to the supermarket to get some more... Whereupon I discovered that if I want to purchase this perfectly legal over-the-counter drug, I can no longer simply take some off the shelf and put it into my shopping basket. I now have to fill out a huge-ass form asking me for all kinds of personal data and get a pharmacist to hand the package to me personally. I'm just glad there wasn't much of a line at the pharmacy window; if I'd had to wait for twenty minutes like I did the last time I went to that pharmacy, I'm pretty sure there would have been some kind of a rampage.

At least the pharmacist was apologetic about it, and took all my ranting and bitching sympathetically. "Now," she said, "I'm required by a new federal law to have you fill out this form..."

"Oh," I said, "It is a federal law? Not just some stupid new store rule?" Damn. There went my brilliant plan to take my business elsewhere in future.

"Yeah. You know why they're doing this right?"

"Yeah, they think I'm cooking up meth in my house."

"They don't think you are," she said placatingly. "But some people do, and the bad apples spoil things for the rest of us."

Actually, I don't agree with her there. The government clearly does think it's a possibility that I'm doing exactly that. After all, they're treating every single person buying a package of Sudafed as a potential criminal, and that most certainly includes me. Instead, I brought up a more practical point. "This is stupid. It's not going to stop people who really want to make drugs. All it does is make things more annoying for the rest of us."

Indeed, while I am hardly a criminal genius, it's pathetically easy for me to see how anyone who really wanted to get their hands on a big stash of pseudoephedrin could. How about getting a bunch of friends to go to a bunch of different pharmacies? And it seems like it'd be perfectly easy to give a fake name. They didn't check my ID or anything. The pharmacist did scan my supermarket card, though I think that was just because she was going to check me out (upon which I asked if I could pay for it with my other groceries instead, which I could). Maybe that was meant to be some sort of ID check, in which case it's a pretty useless one. There's no photo on that card, and I don't think you need a picture ID to apply for one, either. And, hey, worst comes to worst, you can always steal some cards. Or get a fake ID, for that matter. Way to go, Federal Government! You've made some illegal drug-producers' lives marginally more inconvenient at the expense of making millions of innocent citizens' lives more difficult too, not to mention compromising everyone's privacy and perhaps even driving the actual criminals into even more criminal behaviors to get around your rules. But, of, course, it makes it look like you're doing something about drugs, and that's the important thing, right? I'll give them this: at least they're consistent. They're using the exact same strategy on both the War on Drugs and the War on Terror: making the security measures as intrusive as possible in hopes of fooling people into thinking they're actually accomplishing something.

Anyway, the pharmacist gently tried to offer up some alternatives. "There's some decongestants over there that don't have pseudoephedrine."

"Yeah, I looked at those. They're all four-hour pills. That's not enough to let me sleep through the night."

"Oh. Well, there's Claritin."

"I tried that. It does nothing for me." In fact, I attempted to switch to that stuff (or the generic equivalent thereof) for a while, and it was next to useless compared to the Allegra.

She gave up and handed me the form. "I'm not happy about it, either. If it were up to me..."

"Yeah, I know, it's not your fault. I'm sorry for bitching at you."

"That's OK. Really, I understand. I agree with you."

And then she told me that some people did get upset and take it out on her, and that she had one guy get really pissed off and throw his driver's license at her. Which made me feel kind of bad, because it immediately gave me flashbacks to the days when I worked in the campus library, and people would occasionally give me abuse because their professor hadn't put the stuff on reserve he'd said he was going to, so that I didn't have it to give to them. Which clearly must be all my fault.

"Maybe I should write my congressman," I said.

"That's a good idea!" She sounded like she really meant it, too.

So, maybe I will, not that I'd expect it to do any good. But, first, I will bitch about it on the internet, because that, after all, is what I do.

I'll tell ya, though, it's enough to make me want to open a meth lab. At least then I'd be making some good drug money in return for all the hassle.


  1. have you tried Alavert? Oh wait, it gives me insomnia if I take it at night. Never mind.

  2. I thought about trying Alavert, since I had a coupon for it, but given that my previous experimention left me wishing I'd stuck with the Allegra, I decided against doing any more of it.

    Sudafed gives some people insomnia, too, but it's never particularly bothered me. I credit my extremely high tolerance for stimulants, carefully cultivated by imbibing lots and lots of caffeine. :)

  3. Ah. Well claratin did nothing for me but Alavert makes life bearable sans prescription.

  4. I'm kind of hoping the Allegra will go over-the-counter soonish. I'll never understand why I need a prescription for that stuff, but the scary antihistamines that make it dangerous for me to drive are available OTC.

  5. I use Allegra in concert with Nosonex. Does wonders for me here in Florida. Its in the genes, so that might help.

  6. Ok I can one up you!! Oregon helped to forge the way for the federal behind the counter law, but guess what!!!!! You now have to have a prescription to get anything containing pseudoephedrine. That means have to call my doctor play phone tag and get him to call in a prescription :) As of the time that the law was passed last year we were to first state to require. Hmmm isn't like.... raising our kids to be good people a better solution.

  7. Aaargh. Your state sucks. Elect some better politicians, damn it!

    And you know what? "Better solution" doesn't even cover it, because keeping cold medicine off the shelves isn't solving anything other than the country's horrible sniffle deficit. I was doing some reading on this topic after my rant... Turns out, yeah, OK, it looks like the amount of meth being manufactured in the US has gone down a bit since they started doing this stuff. ANnd it has, of course, been completely offset by a new supply of the drug coming in from Mexico. Could anyone not have predicted this? This is the way the drug market works! It's basic supply and demand!

    So, guess what, it's not any harder for your kids to get their hands on meth. It's just harder for you to get treatment for your damned cold. But you think the politicians give a shit whether you're up all night sneezing because you couldn't get to the pharmacy before it closed? (And, oh, man, is that a big issue in New Mexico, with our tiny isolated towns where you're probably lucky if you have one pharmacy, and it closes early.) They do not. They only care that they can grin at the TV cameras and go, "Look how serious I am about the war on drugs!" And people vote for them, because somehow Drugs = Evil has become some kind of an axiom.

    Drugs aren't evil, you know. They're just stupid. Raise your kid not to be stupid. :)

  8. At the risk of being a geeky biochemist, may I suggest Novopeniram? It's no-namey chlorotriplon you can get from the pharmacist by asking (well at least up here you can...) It's about $15 for 100 instead of $15 for 10, so if you need a lot in allergy season (like me) it's a good thing. I have to take two, but I can breathe and it can be a mild sedative so if you need to sleep, it is perfect.
    As an asthmatic I feel your pain in allergy season. It's just starting up here in Saskatchewan...

  9. oops, novopheniram...
    I can't type

  10. Thanks for the suggestion, but if it is "a mild sedative," it's probably not going to be terribly useful... Antihistamines that don't make a point of advertising themselves as "non-drowsy formula!" work well on me, but they render me completely and utterly non-functional. I could take them at night, but I don't want to take them on top of the Allegra, which is a 24-hour pill.