Monday, December 07, 2009


Every time I used to go food shopping and I have to pick up powdered baby formula I would get annoyed.

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 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.


eclectic said...

Miralax? Really?? You couldn't just let that go?


Elda - Peace in the Storm said...

Not sure how true it is, but I've been told that baby formula is used to "cut" cocaine and drugs of that sort. Not exactly sure how it works, but that's the word on the interwebz.

Julie Mast said...

Yeah...I worked at a large retailer in college, and we were only allowed to sell 2 cans of formula at a time because of something about the formula being used in making drugs somehow. But only the iron fortified version (do they even make non-iron fortified anymore?). We once had two teenage kids come in and want to buy a whole cartful...when we questioned them about why they needed so much, they said they each had 3 girls pregnant or just had new babies. LOL...I guess it could have been true! =)

Sandy Shirley said...

You are that loud, talkative guy in line that I try to avoid!

DGB said...

Ah man, that's classic.

Unknown said...

I'm with didn't have to answer that question ya know. Formula is expensive, and it's kind like should SEE how those formula checks are sold on ebay...I made $50 off a whole bunch of formula coupons I got for free once. It's like a black market.

Kristy said...

Consider yourself blessed that you've never had to steal formula or diapers. I know many woman who have taken both. It's amazing what a woman will do to provide for a baby. They WILL steal and judges have a hard hard time giving them hard time when they were honestly just trying to provide for their welfare baby.

Welfare does not cover formula in their food least not enough. You will have to "supplement" your baby's formula intake somehow if you are that broke.

Ask me....17 years ago I sold food stamps for 50 cents on the dollar to people to get enough money to pay for a can of formula.

If you've never had to count out change from your couch you would remain clueless.

p.s. woman don't steal those other items for their babies.

SciFi Dad said...

Constipation is not cool.

Also? Real men don't formula feed their babies.

Anonymous said...

What has changed this world? We used to buy it by the case. Readily available in all super markets and big chains. We always bought the liquid, though. Maybe that's the difference. This is a strange world we live in! I bet those checkers thought they had a strange dude in line, too. :)

Bogart said...

Well...I guess a soft pooper is important.

James (SeattleDad) said...

Funniest thing I read all week William.

Thanks for that.

Unknown said...


BugginWord said...

At least they don't require your ID and limit you to one purchase a week like they do with sudaphedrine. It's getting really hard to make meth in my apt these days.

Anonymous said...

WIC covers formula.

But I agree it's silly that foodstamps don't. They cover soda and candy bars, after all.

At the store where I used to buy formula at for my son (for two whole months before he turned 1, and that was ENOUGH), sometimes there wouldn't be ANY of the brand we bought on the shelf. I asked about it once, and the kid working in the department said that the "chinese guys come in and buy as much as they can to send to their babies at home". Guess that makes sense, given the quality of formula there...

H said...

De-lurking to answer your question:

Formula can be used to make Meth. They also use it to cut cocaine.

It is also stolen to re-sell on the black market since foodstamps do not cover it. Also, WIC limits how much you can buy and usually only covers the liquid concentrate. But mainly retailers believe that it is stolen to make Meth.

Now that I got that boring info out of the way, I need to tell you that your blog cracks me up! I have been reading for about 6 months and always look forward to reading what is going on in your quirky world.

Unknown said...

Yo, next time I go to the grocery store, can you come with me? I've got Miralax on my list...

Melinda said...

I would actually like to be in the queue where you are. Shopping would be much more amusing.
Fancy baby formula being used for the drug trade. The ass****'s.

My husband takes low dose aspirin. He came home fuming after trying to purchase the tablets from the chemist shop. Some pimple faced 17 year old said she could not sell him more than 2 packs at a time. It was the law. My husband was annoyed and questioned her further. It is a a bid to crack down on suicides by only selling 2 packs.
I guess people who decide to take an aspirin overdose wouldn't possibly have the bright idea to go to several stores and get more aspirin that way.
The poor shop assistant got the full wrath from my husband...
"Listen, the only thing I am likely to get from this low dose aspirin is repetitive strain disorder from getting them out of the packaging."
He makes me go purchase it for him now.

kalki said...

I wonder how those employees refer to you now. "Oh, here comes the formula dude." Or "Here comes the meth dude." Or "Here comes the constipated dude." And admit it - you'd much rather be thought of as the meth dude. :)

Vajana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vajana said...

at LEAST you aren't the constipated meth dude.

(I always thought that was weird too, btw)

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

Can't. Stop. Laughing.