Aug 22 2005

Mr. T Versus Walgreens


Such occurrences are distressingly intermittent, but once in a while a specimen of glad tidings swims against the current and flops ashore on my desk. I allude to the recent email bulletin from Danielle Tierney of Planned Parenthood, which put me in possession of spirit-cleansing news. To wit: last Thursday the Austin City Council was the first in the nation to pass a “no refusals” amendment to its pharmaceutical services contract with Walgreens. This means that enrollees at Travis County health programs will get their dang ol’ birth control then and there, regardless of the individual pharmacist’s personal misogynist godbaggery, though it may require the intervention of a store manager.

That’s good.

It doesn’t mean that Walgreens city-wide, or anywhere-else-wide, have to comply. In fact, only nine stores are affected.

That’s bad.

My pal René (who writes award-winningly about music for the Illinois Times and really likes old buildings) despises Walgreens with an icy fervor because of the unmitigated and deranged glee with which the corporation buys up beloved architectural landmarks, obliterates them despite public outcry, and erects in their places cheap ugly crap. It is no surprise that what lies within is also cheap and ugly and crappy.

I know because I was forced to darken the cheap ugly crappy stoop of a Walgreens yesterday, on accounta the hippy-dippy People’s Pharmacy was out of my prescription. I will do so again only if the building is on fire and there are blind orphans inside, and then only if the blind orphans owe me money. The experience was, on every level, crushing.

For the interior of Walgreens smelleth as a festering scrap-heap of deep-fried vinyl. So dense is its concentration of cheap crap from China that the store is orbited by clouds of particulate matter–candy wrappers, cigarette butts, small children– that cannot achieve escape velocity. And the pharmacy clerks–it took no fewer than five of them to bring my drug deal to a conclusion; who knows how many it takes change a light bulb– are quite the little rays of sunshine, too. Their skin is grey. Their shoulders are hunched. Their expressions are hollow and dull, lacking even the smug spark of pure evil one so often sees flashing in the eyes of petty bureaucrats at the DMV. Their collective worldview appears to be that of the dying slave for whom the last puff of hope has long ago wafted into a pitiless aether.

Can I just say that if you’re gonna wear a white lab coat in an effort to exude an air of clinical authority, how about washing it once in a while? Jesus.

[cross-posted at Bitch. Ph.D]