The supermarket, where I shop, keeps the powdered baby formula locked up behind the customer service desk. Not only do I have to wait for someone at the customer service desk to open the display case, they also have to hand deliver the canister of formula to the register where I plan to check out. It is top notch security. So I have to do all of my shopping, first, before I can request the formula. There have been many times I have left the store without Jackson's formula because I forgot to go to the customer service desk.
One night, last week, a teen aged boy was working the register and another teenage boy was bagging when I was scanning out. I told the kid at the register I needed formula but there was no one at the customer service desk. He paged the manager and continued to scan my other items. I asked the boy why they locked up the formula. He did not know and deferred to the bagger. The bagger said that formula is stolen a lot and so they lock it up.
"People steal formula?" I asked.
"Yeah. That and pregnancy tests." said the bagger. "We don't sell the pregnancy tests here at all because they get stolen so much."
A lady got in line behind me and started unpacking her shopping cart.
"I just don't get it." I said still waiting for the manager. "Why would people steal formula? And of all the stuff that could be locked up behind the counter, formula is the only one. I mean you guys sell NyQuil and that is not locked up. That is a drug. I could see teenagers stealing that. No offense. Wait a minute...is there something in baby formula you teens today are using to make drugs. Do kids get high off of formula?"
The bagger laughed. The checker kind of looked at me weird. The lady behind me laughed.
I continued. "I can just picture a bunch of kids hanging out in the parking lot waiting for their buddy. Yo did you get the Enfamil? No wait. Kids would call it something cool like Enfy or NF. Yo did you get the Enfy? And then they would all head out to a rave."
Again the bagger laughed. The lady behind me laughed. The checker smiled. A teen aged girl, the checker in the next aisle, laughed.
"And now it makes sense to me, " I said, "why all the kids at raves suck on pacifiers. You kids do use formula to get high."
"That's pretty funny." said the bagger laughing. "But no. It's just that baby formula is expensive, so they lock it up.""A can of formula, the one I get, is only twelve dollars and look at the size of the can. It is difficult to steal. Where would someone put that? A purse maybe. But you would have to be an expert thief to steal a can that size. Where would you put it? I think that maybe the management here is just a little crazy. You know what I mean?"
The kids nodded. I made a few more jokes about the stealing formula. I felt my posture and attitude change. I felt loose and carefree. I felt all cool and hip hanging and chatting with the teenagers as they scanned and bagged my groceries.
"You see that?" I asked pointing to the large purple container of Miralax the checker was about to scan, "That bottle costs eighteen bucks. It is not locked up. It is just sitting on a shelf. I could fit that in my pants and walk right out of here and no one would know."
"What is that?" asked the bagger.
"Yeah? What's Miralax?" asked the checker.
"It's, ummm. It is a stool softener."
The lady behind me tried to stifle her very loud laugh. The three teenagers all gave me a very weird look, not knowing how to respond.
I could feel my posture and attitude change as my face reddened. They scanned the rest of my order in silence. I was no longer cool.
Now when I go shopping to pick up baby formula I feel a little embarrassed.