Thursday, July 26, 2001

Just say no to drugstores

My town is being overrun by drugstores.

They’re popping up everywhere, in every new mini-mall, on every street corner. And not just petite mom-and-pop pharmacies, but super-mega-drugstores, the kind where you can get your cold medicine and makeup and school supplies and toys and birthday presents and gardening gear and weekly groceries all in one handy spot.

One of these in close driving distance is nifty. Two of these in close driving distance is way convenient. Fifty-five of these in close driving distance is overkill. I figure our town is going on about eighty.

The latest is the jewel in the crown of our downtown redevelopment. It replaces a movie theater, because goodness knows we don’t want teenagers and other moviegoing riff-raff hanging around our downtown. It pre-empts a fast-food restaurant; town fathers have been firm in forbidding the likes of Wendy’s and Burger King from the site, because goodness knows we don’t want families with young children and other fast-food-loving riff-raff hanging around our downtown. What we want hanging around our downtown are senior citizens in big, slow cars who must have constant access to their 33 individual prescriptions. This is the face we want to present as a community: A Town On Medication.

Personally, I would like to know when the No Fast Food Ever referendum passed, because what I would have liked to see more than anything in that prime downtown space is a big old McDonald’s with a vast playspace, one where I could leave my kids to wander for hours while I guzzle Diet Coke (my personal drug of choice) and read magazines. A Chuck E. Cheese would have been fine, too. I suppose I could always bring my kids to the big shiny new drugstore and let them run up and down the aisles, but my son always seems to find the condom counter, and I haven’t figured out yet how to explain to him what they are.

So downtown won’t be drawing us. We’re so backward, we still drive to a drugstore way ‘cross town, passing others all along the way. It’s our little way of commenting on the fact that there should be far fewer pharmacies hereabouts. And, maybe, more gas stations.

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