Heaven on Earth (Wandering Thoughts) – plasticbagger
March 16, 2020
CVS pharmacy. heaven on earth? the phrase heaven on earth seems contradictory. as long as there’s an earth, there’s always going to be something wrong with it. either heaven isn’t all it’s cracked out to be. or it’s so good even a cheap imitation’s worth striving for. CVS is definitely not a heaven for workers. all save 2 which have been replaced by self checkout machines. with the constant news of how corporations are destroying our forests, it feels disrespectful for those machines to spit out arm length receipts — even for 1 household item. however, to my favorite CVS’ credit, it has a green recycling bin next to the exit. at least a handful of the receipts end up in it. a different company will then recycle those receipts into hopefully shorter receipts. each remake increasing the likelihood of that tree ending up as litter.
maybe i’m wrong. maybe most people aren’t like me. they actually use the recycling bin. i sometimes don’t know when i’m projecting. or when i’m having legitimately profound thoughts. i’m guessing the majority of the people who walk out through the automatic doors are aware that pollution’s a problem. with that knowledge, and how simple of an act throwing a receipt into the green bin is, what’s stopping anyone from doing that? what’s stopping me? well, receipts are paper. rain’ll melt them. which might be true. though what if? what if the ink from those receipts never fully dissolves? over time forming a microscopic sludge that creeps down a sewer, growing thicker through the drains, before exiting out in an ocean, destroying an ecosystem miles away. Wow. at least i know what’s not stopping me. the fact a paper trail no longer exists.
i don’t come to CVS to think. precisely the opposite. there’s just rarely shutting off the projections. Observations. Insights. proclamations. the comforting distraction of trying a new strain of vitamin. Or at midnight restocking on alcohol wipes to give my thoughts room to roam outside of my own failures. however, those self checkout machines have a habit of making me feel hypocritical. on one hand, i want people to have jobs paying good money. not only that. also shit like free medicine, free homes, free food, free water. plus way fewer work days. this means a side of me must care about humans. yet i can’t blame machines for making things easier. That’s what they’re designed to do. while i would want more humans to have jobs, i am also glad those employees got fired. it means not having to look anyone in the eye while shopping. “cash or credit?” “do you have a wellness rewards number?” “Please enter your wellness numbers on the keypad.” “Your total is…” “Thank you for shopping at CVS, please take your receipt and all of your items from the bagging area.” machines weren’t trained to convince me that any of this is natural.
Heaven on earth. was it ever gonna be natural? perfect? please ignore those splotches in the grey carpeting. the dull lighting. bottled aromas kept behind a glass door by the security desk. usually without anyone sitting at it. i guess having a security desk is enough to make potential thieves think twice. nevertheless, i know a guy who was involved in a city wide manhunt. it started at a CVS — not this one, but close by. one night this dude found a way to hide until after closing. he then snuck into the pharmacy and stole a bunch of pain killers. even managing to get the loot without being seen on any cameras. but he figured leaving after hours would trigger an alarm , so he went back to his hiding place, hoping to wait the night out without giving into his prescription addiction. the one thing he didn’t anticipate? his stomach. he got so hungry that, from how i’d heard it, this guy thought fuck this, i’m going to the snack aisle. where his face got exposed. i don’t remember a lot of growing up, or even increasingly what’s happened 5 or 10 years ago. why has that story stuck with me for what? Half a decade now? because Hunger, i learned, is in our nature. to crave things outside of ourselves.
at CVS hair dye and action figures get stocked side by side. such a weirdly perfect placement. who goes to the hair aisle a lot? moms and dads. Young, old ones. trying to hide the inevitably of aging. they might, if they’re not against fun, and have enough money, buy their kid a cheap plastic toy on the way out. who else might find themselves in this particular aisle? a person having a mental breakdown. they might get a toy because it reminds them of their broken childhood. Every part of this CVS has that element of strange equilibrium. heaven. Walking past the cereals and into the body washes. On Earth. stumbling through the stationary products into the novelty “made for tv” products — the costliest splurge in this whole place. with the drink section all lined up against the back walls, a river of flavored Cokes. and while the ingredients on these hair dyes are all nearly identical, they are each sold in a uniquely colored box. the creators all bragging about their uniquely strong camouflage.