Wrap Rap

By Greg Fuller

April 28, 2018

So the cold is back. Or maybe I got cluster-bombed by the wildflowers during our trip over to Sonoma on Wednesday for wine-tasting and a nice dinner at the Girl & Fig. Six of one, half a dozen other symptoms. Misery any way you look at it.

Which means I am back on the OTC. Which is different from The OC, except there is also quite a bit of melodrama involved. But not much comedy in the situation. I’m talking Over The Counter drugs here, which is a rather obsolete term because it implies that there is a counter, with somebody in back of it peddling the drugs. What there is, is a bunch of aisles with signs over them saying things like “Pain” or “Foot Remedies” or “Eyewear” so you have to figure out just what sort of category your particular malady falls under without getting diverted by the Peanut M&Ms, backpack chairs and flip flops. Fortunately, “Cold Remedies” is rather self-explanatory. And I was able to resist the ‘Sharing Size’ of the Cadbury Mini Fruit and Nut Bars. But not the M&Ms.

So … what ever happened to pill bottles? I remember them before the Child-Proof Closures, which, like electronic equipment, can only be mastered by a five-year-old. Now … we have these boxes for our OTC with three or four square ‘blister packs’ inside containing the pills. I’m pretty sure they are called blister packs because that’s what you end up with trying to get the pills out. Along with broken nails, minor lacerations on your fingers and head contusions from whacking your forehead against the bathroom wall when you can’t get to your pills.

For starters, there is the shrink wrap around your box of ‘All Day Non-Drowsy Multiple Symptom Cold Relief’. It is not quite as onerous as the stuff they wrap CDs in (your remember CDs, don’t you?) so you can’t actually listen to the music, but pretty close. So after five or ten minutes of trying to pierce the envelope you say the hell with it and get out your 6 inch hunting knife – the one that’s also good for skinning game, and cut off the end off the box.

Ah, let’s pull out one of those little squares. Watch out – the edges are sharp! Now you’ll have to get the shrink wrap off the Band Aid box … Oh – you can see the pretty little pills on the one side, can’t you? But you can’t have them, no My Precious. Not yet you can’t. Not until you run the safety container gauntlet, which is just a bit short of Indiana Jones’ entry into the cave containing the Holy Grail.

The instructions say ‘Take Two” and lo and behold, there are little holes around each pair of pretty blue pills. I’ll bet that’s so you can separate them. Or not. Push it, bend it, ouch! Those edges are sharp. Gotta go get another Band Aid, which of course involves getting the wrapper off of the little dot ones before too much blood drips on the floor.

You tore off three? Never mind, you can save one for later. Now you can get your glass of water, just push the pills out the back and what? You have to get the indestructible security paper off first, because the only way to get the pills out with that on involves setting an IED on the vanity? Just look for the little corner where it separates and Ooh. Well, that nail will grow back in a couple of months after the infection from the puncture wound is healed.

Maybe the other corner. Or the other, other one? Lift and separate (wait, where have I heard that before?). Just edge your thumbnail in a little bit and Voila! A little end tears off. Perhaps the Bowie knife? You contemplate this as your spouse is yelling something about turning the #$%! light off so she can sleep and you’re wondering if the forehead against the wall motion is actually an effective decongestant.

Finally, that paper is off and now you can have your cold remedy. But noooooo. There’s still a layer of foil with the equivalent strength of the skin of an airliner. Not a 737 mind you. Push the pills through this. Nada. There’s no more little corners, so you are going to have to go in. Scalpel! Or maybe the little rasp thingy on your nail clippers that you’ve always wondered what it’s for? Just be careful with that sharp stuff because Ohhhh! – now there’s liquid coming out of one of the little capsules and unless you can lick it up fast enough – watch out for the sharp edges! – you’re going to have to start over again. Lucky you tore off three pills.

But I get it. If the OTC pushers made it to easy to get to their drugs, you might actually take them. You might actually take too much of them and end up in the ER. So we have to keep safe.

I do have pill bottles actually. I’ve got this huge one from Costco that says ‘Non-Asprin’ on the label. Which means I know what it’s not. Which also means I don’t necessarily know what it is. Could be cocaine, could be gemstones. Or lock washers. They all qualify. But if I read further, I can find out it from the much smaller writing that it’s Acetaminophen. It even shows the actual size of the pills and invites me to “Compare to Extra Strength Tylenol ®”. Which, by the way, I could also do with lock washers. In any case – no safety paper, aeronautical strength foil, or blister packing in there. I could just chug the stuff, all five hundred of them if I want. Which, if it didn’t kill me right off (‘Please read the warnings.’) apparently I could destroy my liver, which I would assume would take me out in a longer period — say, the time it takes to open up the All Day Non-Drowsy Multiple Symptom Cold Relief capsules. Oh. And the Non-Aspirin are Gluten Free. Says so right on the back of the chuggable bottle. I sure am thankful for that.

Which got me to thinking – at least as much as was possible with the fogged out consciousness that I still had while trying to open the blister pack. What if we packaged ammunition that way? I mean, I think we could prevent some mass shootings if the deranged killer had to extract each individual bullet from the safety paper and the foil and the blisters and all of that. So, before he or she had enough ammo to take out a school or Country Music concert or a couple of cops enjoying lattes at Starbucks, the potential perp would get so frustrated that he (or she – gotta be fair here) would either give up and head back to history class, or — having become even more deranged by the process — take the one or maybe two bullets that had been extracted thus far from the packing, and take him (or her) self out. Saving, who knows, countless lives.

And then, the OTC could put my cold pills in ammo boxes, so I could actually take them, and feel better, and not become deranged from this damn cold. Just a thought.


(c) 2018 by Greg Fuller