Sunday 25 Sep 2016

Up-sell to a Flu Shot
Jennifer Flaten

All I want is to pay for my aspirin and get out. The clerk is determined to complete her sales pitch, for the latest Walgreen's impulse item. I want out.

I am a frequent Walgreen's shopper. I am well aware of their belief that I will suddenly be overcome by a burning desire to purchase a super-sized candy bar or six-pack of batteries at the checkout. Do I have the word, fool, stamped on my forehead?

In order to make this possible, the Walgreen strategy consists of offering me such items to me, as many times as they possibly can, while I'm forced to linger the checkout line. Is this cashier slow or is it store policy. Can you say, "captive audience"?

First, they show me the candy and batteries on the counter, in an enormous display that takes up half the available counter space, forcing me to stack my purchases in a tower on the counter. Maybe I should've gone to engineering school. Management at Walgreen's thinks I'd be good at it.

Just as I reach the clerk, she launches into a pitch about the candy, as she zips my mascara over the scanner. My hopes of fleeing quickly with my purchases are dashed. The clerk begins extolling the virtues of the mega-nut-choco delicious bar, while she points at it like a demented Vanna White.

The delivery is rote; it doesn't matter if you are buying slim fast or another diet product. Nope, the clerk will still ask you if you want to buy a candy bar. For the record, the two are mutually exclusive.

On this particular day, I have finally reached the checkout. I am ready to fend off her offer of chocolate-covered-gummi pumpkins, which are just in time for Halloween, when she throws me a curve ball and offers me a flu shot.

A what; a flu shot, maybe one for the road. I didn't see that coming. Sure, I am aware that Walgreen's offers flu shots.

How could I miss the 20-foot banner with the 12-inch red letters that spell out 'flu shots' stretched across the front of the building? Not to mention the oversized cardboard needles that dangle from the end of every aisle, bonking me in the head as I look for the generic Tylenol, Plus, the overhead announcement that plays every five minutes.

I just didn't expect to be able to hand the clerk a twenty and get a stab in the arm in return. Is the flu-shot now an impulse item? I mean, you run into Walgreen's for band-aids and you might, just might be tempted to try the chocolate covered potato chips, but a flu-shot?

Maybe it's just me, but while I often decide I need a pack of mints while waiting my turn, I can't imagine thinking "hey! A sharp poke in the arm sounds good right now."

I know that after last year's flu mess, the government is going all out to convince people to get a flu shot. In order to do this they are offering flu shots everywhere including department stores and grocery stores. Although there is nothing wrong with getting a flu shot, I am just a wee bit hesitant to get anything medical from a grocery store.

Although it seems I am in the minority, people are raving about the convenience, so much so that I'm pretty sure the next time I go to McDonald's it will be "do you want a flu shot with that" instead of "do you want fries with that?"

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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