Friday, March 12, 2010

Necessity Is The Mother Of Profiteering


Last night my youngest daughter was awake intermittently from 11:30 p.m. on screaming and crying because her ears hurt. Since she was sleeping with me, I piggy-backed Tylenol and Motrin all night, getting some sleep in the rare hours where the medication overlapped. We are now out of Tylenol.

The doctor confirmed today what I had known, that she’s got two terrible ear infections—I think his exact words were, “Her ears look like hamburger.” Not a pleasant visual, but at least I know I’m not crazy.

This prompts a trip to our local drug store to purchase pain reliever, since my youngest sucks it down (with all her fevers) like it’s maple syrup. One of the things that bothers me is the amount of sugar in those bottles: the liquid is so saturated with granular action, it takes forever to flow out of the medicine spoon and when it does, it leaves a thick, grainy residue behind. Maybe I’ll start serving it to the kids over ice cream.

I’m always amazed at how much pain relievers cost. I suppose the makers of Tylenol and Motrin know that when your kid is in pain, no amount of money will keep you from purchasing their product—you simply want your children to shut up. I mean stop crying. I mean feel better. Yes, you really want them to feel better. So you fork over $8 or $9 bucks for a 4 oz bottle of flavored sugar (sorry again) medication because you have no choice. Which prompted me to think about other overpriced products I purchase because I need them NOW. Not in five days when I find a coupon. Not in a week waiting for the advertisements to come out. Not when I get paid, but NOW. This very moment, even if I have to use the credit card.

Pregnancy Tests
Now, I’ll admit it’s been some months since I used one, but last I checked the going rate for these was about $23.00. It probably costs about .54 cents to make these suckers since it’s a plastic wand with litmus paper (albeit special litmus paper). I’ve purchased more plastic than that from the dollar store and there is even markup on that. I suppose First Response and Clear Blue have employees, overhead, and benefits to pay out, but it seems a little unfair to make such a hefty profit based solely on the fact that I am teetering on the precipice of total life-change. When you need a pregnancy test you need a pregnancy test. Let’s be honest, sometimes you leave the store with one of every brand just to eliminate the potential for error. Sometimes you go back to the store and purchase one more of every brand because the results of the last ones were all the same, and you’re still not quite certain they are correct. No woman I’ve ever known has clipped pregnancy test coupons, or after “being late” says to herself, “You know, maybe it’s stress. I’ll wait another week or two. I bet those pregnancy tests will go on sale and then I’ll run and grab a couple. No biggie.” Because finding out if you are pregnant or not is a deal so big you’re willing to fork over the $23 bucks numerous times. Or until you're willing to admit to the results.

Yeast Infection Cream
Sorry to leave you out gentlemen, but this is for women only, so if you get squeamish reading about girlie issues you may want to pass this paragraph up. Having a yeast infection is something along the lines of having a raging fire in your “good girl” area, the likes that no amount of water could ever squelch. What gets us women into trouble is we doubt the onset of symptoms, hoping (praying) the uncomfortable feeling we’re experiencing is a result of too much sugar ingested, or our pants being a tad snug, or our panties riding up at unusual angles. When it comes to yeast infections time is not your friend and hoping it will go away is not an option. Yeast is yeast—bread, beer, or otherwise, and as the minutes tick by it expands exponentially causing millions of females worldwide to go running to their local pharmacies. We try to walk casually through the isles until we come to the land of “forbidden products” (because yeast infection medication and condoms are so similar), and try to act nonchalant as we discern if we want to wait overnight, three days, five days, or seven days until we feel like we don’t want to rip out our “good girl.” This medication is anywhere from $20-$35 dollars a box. This is also not one of those moments when women whip out a coupon they’ve clipped two weeks ago in hopes they might have a yeast infection and be able to save two dollars on medication. You do not ask the cashier if he or she knows when Monistat is going on sale. Need-profiteering at its best here ladies and gentlemen. We fork over the $35 dollars quickly and with a smile because we need to get home, apply, and lay horizontal for about 8 hours.

Tow Trucks
Welcome back gentlemen, no girly stuff in this paragraph.  It occurred to me that another place people are willing to fork over large sums of money without question is when they need to have their car towed. It's a service not a product, but one I have needed to utilize in the past year.The battery totally dies. A tire blows and you have no spare. The engine overheats because you failed to fill it with water and you’ve been driving up hill with the air conditioner on for three hours. These things happen and if you are anything like me, they happen with kids in the car and in extreme weather. Sure I have AAA, but even this isn’t much of a help. With my current $80 plan, I get three free miles of towing and pay for all the additional miles. My luck also is such that my vehicle will break down 45 miles from the nearest service station. Three free miles is a joke. But you make the AAA phone call, they tell you what your coverage allows and then inform you  that you can upgrade your plan for twenty more dollars which will include completely free towing. Well, okay sign me up. But you can’t get that today, they tell you. You can order it today, but it won’t go into effect today because it takes a few business days to process the paper work. But just so you know, for the next time.

The next time? Yes, the next time I plan to have car troubles requiring me to need towing assistance I will make sure I call AAA and upgrade the $80 plan I don’t use all year to the $100 plan that gives me free towing. Sounds good.

The tow truck driver pulls up and you sign his papers. For all you know you’re signing that you’ll pay $25 a mile plus a case of beer and pack of cigarettes on arrival. And you don’t really care. It’s not like you’re going to say, “You know what, I think your towing prices are too high. I’m gonna call around while my children’s eyes roll back in their head from heat exhaustion, because darnit, I’m an American and I have choices.” And let’s face it, an eleven, nine, and two-year old can only push a minivan so far. You grab the credit card, pay the bill, and move on.

I know this is all part of life and I make up for the extra money I spend on emergency items by utilizing the double coupon events at my local supermarket. And there have been many times when Ben and Jerry's ice cream fell into the above categories because at the time I really needed Chunky Money NOW, and I was happy to pay $7 for three spoonfulls of ice cream. But I loaded my cart with Tylenol. We're all set for awhile. My AAA plan on the other hand is currently up for renewal.

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