If you’re traveling to New York, or if you live here, and want to stay sane, avoid Duane Reade (not the streets downtown, the actual store). It doesn’t matter what time you go; there is always a string of people, exhaling audibly, deep in wait. I’m not talking about the DMV. It’s worse: Duane Reade’s prescription counter. "What’s the name? Stein?" Klein. "C-L-I-N-E?" Oh God, why is this happening? They dally and potter around looking for my birth control prescription in the JA-JE bin. OH MY GOD! I could scream. "Are you allergic to any medications?" Sulfa. "Sulfur?" Yes, lady, I’m allergic to sulfur from the periodic table. When I touch it, I get hives. No, Sulfa, the stuff they put in some pink bubble gum medicine when I was young. Hives happen. "Can you just write it down here?" HOLY MOTHERFCUKER! I already wrote it down, along with my social security and my automatic refill slip. You have got to be kidding me. "That will be about 10 minutes Miss Clean." But NO! I filled out the refill slip. I shouldn’t have to wait. I did it last week, so this wouldn’t happen. "You wanna fill out another one?" I hate you. "I just talked to the pharmacist, Ma’am. We didn’t get no call from this here doctor." Die. Just go die.
So I sit in a blue chair, coated in a layer of bacteria and staph cells, where sick people wait and tap their feet for half hour increments after the promise of a few minutes. There’s a wall covered in Ace wrist bandages. This makes sense. Plant the seed.
I wonder if anyone ever just screams, rip roaring, throat throttling yelping. I want to pelt the ladies behind the counter in their heads with soft-baked Entenmanns cookies. Gotcha. Take that, lady. Right in the forehead, knocking those three-inch thick classes off your Ernie Muppet head. Now ya think you can speed things up? "Miss Clean, it’s ready." She swipes my card. "Do you have another one? This dumb register." Stab her. I’m going to stab her with the fake, sign on the LCD screen, pen. I don’t have one more thing to give her except an insult. This isn’t her fault. This is training. Habit. Something I never want to catch because I don’t think they make prescriptions for it.