Soapbox

My depressing visit to the dollar store

Published: 2009-09-14

I'm not one of those snobs that looks down upon the dollar store or the people who shop there. Although I don't go there as often as in the past, I still pay a visit every two months or so. I bought most of my Atari 7800 collection at the dollar store, it's an awesome place.

My last visit wasn't so great though, it was downright depressing.

I needed some tacky refrigerator magnets and I couldn't think of a better place to look so I swung in last Saturday. I immediately noticed that they were playing music through the store. That was new to me, maybe it used to be generic musac that everyone tunes out. Regardless, they now are piping religious country music at a blaring volume. The first song was something about "you left my heart as empty as a Monday morning church". It sounded like it was the same guy who does that awful "nice shoes for Jesus" song that's played around Christmas for some reason. That song alone finally resolved the "which do I hate more, crunk or country?" debate.

I don't exactly live in the bible-belt here. I live in the state that re-elected Rod Blagojevich in a landslide when his approval rating was floating around 10%. He was running against a moderate republican at the time and had a double-digit victory. Against a conservative one it would have been triple-digits (like Cuba, triple-digit victories are possible in Illinois). I can only assume that the same music is being beamed into all their locations because there's no way it was a regional selection. Why they picked something bound to annoy many customers is beyond me.

When I went to checkout I saw they sold pregnancy tests behind the counter. If you're buying a pregnancy test at the dollar store it's pretty safe to say your life didn't turn out as you planned. Being behind the counter must mean they're frequently stolen. That thought made me lose a bit more faith in our country.

Behind me in line was a woman buying several boxes of sleeping pills. Maybe I'm just morbid but it occurred to me that she might not be alive in the morning. Perhaps it was the music that finally pushed her over the edge? Forget Ozzy and Judas Priest, the dollar store soundtrack is the real menace.

Can the dollar store even sell legitimate sleeping pills? They just had to be some kind of bogus homeopathic product. Although in a large enough dose I suppose anything is toxic.

I briefly pondered if I was morally obligated to help her and decided I wasn't. My heavily libertarian/agnostic leanings usually keep me out of people's business. If someone was dying on the floor sure I'd call 911. Just observing someone doing something that might possibly lead to self-inflicted harm isn't my business though. Should we tell someone buying a pack of cigarettes to knock it off? Some think we should but not me. A mass purchase of sleeping pills is basically the same; it's really just a difference of duration.

I can still feel depressed about it though. Even if this wasn't a potential suicide attempt it's at least someone addicted to dollar store sleeping pills (which may or may not have any actual active ingredients). I hope they don't have kids.. what am I saying, of course they do.

On the plus side, I found some decent magnets and a couple bags of vanilla Tootsie Rolls.