Hanging Out At The CVS

Sleaze Culture

There isn’t much in the way of sincere weirdness to be found in the Valley of the Sun. The past 25 years have made the Phoenix metro area one of the fastest growing in the US. As the suburbs grew, so did the antiseptic version of small town America found on every cul de sac in every pre-programmed Pulte subdivision.

If you want to people watching in this burg you have to go to the malls– where everyone seems to dress alike, act alike, and is either talking on their cell phone or texting their BFF. Of course, they are doing these things while walking in packs of two or three. If I were an alien just out of the Roswell clink, I’d run and get a cell phone, put it to my ear, walk up to someone and start talking to the phone in order to communicate.

There is no differentiation here, which is weird in and of itself but certainly doesn’t rise to the level of weirdness. The CVS at the corner of Camelback and 16th Street is working slowly to change that.

It’s the kind of place, on the surface, a New Yorker can appreciate: a cathedral to convenience. The remarkably nice crew that works the corporate version of a $5 and $10 pretends not to notice me in fluorescent lit the linoleum palace three or four times a day. However, closer inspection reveals the lack of certain important items – brooms, toilet brushes, mops. Cheap gin, bad Chardonnay, Cheez-its and generic suntan lotion are what you can expect to find. Those items and whatever drug your doctor decides to prescribe for you over medication is back in the drive thru pharmacy.

Of course, the Tweakers (a different winner daily) are outside next to mineral water vending machine (a quarter for a gallon!), slightly off to the right of the in door. They know better than to walk any further than the invisible boundary formed by he CVS’s parking lot stretching out 200 feet to the east and 100 feet to the north. This is the far western edge of the upscale Biltmore District of Phoenix. Nancy Reagan’s mother lived way and the Bushes golf with Sen. McCain a ¼ mile away. The Meth heads understand the unspoken code of the Phoenix PD: walk 202 feet east and go cold turkey in Tent City working on a chain gang in pink PJ’s under the supervision of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Tent City also doubles as the Gestapo Finishing School for the Maricopa County Constabulary.

Yesterday’s Tweaker was a skinny woman who pushed a pillow underneath her tight filthy beige/white t-shirt in an effort to look pregnant. Although the corner of the browning pillow hung out from the corners of her skinny jeans, people gave her food, change and words of guidance on her diet while with child. I wasn’t the only one who watched in awe as she raked in her booty; the cops came over from the local Chipotle to bear witness to this tableau.

When I closed my eyes, I could almost see 10th Avenue in 1993…almost. But in the Valley of the Sun, one has to take the weirdness wherever you can find it.

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