SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

An Unexpected Holiday 'Card'
By Dave Kiffer


December 21, 2007
Friday AM

Ketchikan, Alaska - I was minding my own business in the checkout line at Wingrens- SeaMart- Carrs- Safeway the other day, when the clerk threw me for a loop.

jpg Dave Kiffer

"Date of Birth?" he asked.

"Huh," I replied.

I haven't been "carded" in something like three decades.

Furthermore, I wasn't buying cigarettes.

"Huh?" I said again.

He just stared.

"Uh, two," I stammered some more.

He stared some more.

"Uh two-five-fifty nine," I finally spat out.

He returned to grunting as he ran my items over the scanner.

The moment passed and my attention shifted to the remarkable fact that every time I step into a grocery store I spend at least $40. Even when I only buy a candy bar.

No, actually my attention held fast for a change.

"Carded," I thought. "For what?!?!"

Then it hit me. The cough syrup. It had "alcohol" in it!

I remembered those halcyon days when some "dry" logging camps actually banned cough syrups (along with vanilla extract!) because some of then actually had the equivalent of 25 proof firewater in them. The better to put you to sleep so that you would forget you had a cold, of course!

But that still didn't account for the fact that - despite remarkably young looking skin for my advanced age - I am, and have been for some time, well over the age of consent, legal or otherwise.

And even though my memory is no longer sharp as a tack (it's actually as sharp as a tack that has been run over by a asphalt roller), I could never remember getting "carded" for Nyquil.

The thought stayed with me on the long - five minute - drive home.

So the first thing I did was consult the label on the cough medicine. Natch, I was curious to see just how much alcohol I was imbibing for the pleasure of getting "carded."

Turned out the correct answer was "none." But I'll get to that in a minute.

First of all, I realized that I hadn't bought Nyquil after all, I had carelessly picked up a nearly identical looking product called Tylenol "Cough."

Caveat Emptor.

Fine, the main thing I had was a nagging "cough" so no biggie!

Then I checked the list of ingredients to find out how much "Daddy Juice" I was about to pound down in my plastic shot glass.

First, the active ingredients were acetaminophen, dextromethorphan hbr and doxylamine succinate.

Wow, just reading those names can give one a serious "buzz kill."

But what about the hootch?

I read on.

"Citric acid, FD&C Blue #1, flavors, polyethylene glycol, propylene glycol, purified water, sodium benzoate, sodium carboxymethylcellulose, sorbitol, sucrolose and sucrose."

That definitely killed the buzz.

Okay, I'm always up for a little "sucrose" but what's up with the "carboxymethylcellulose?" Sounds like something you'd find in the old Ketchikan Pulp Company wastewater discharge.

And no alcohol.

So if there is no alcohol (and no tar or nicotine either), then why was I carded?

At first I thought it might have something to do with all those over the counter medicines that you now have to get from behind the counter because of the "meth" epidemic.

But just about the only thing not listed in the Tylenol ingredients was the "pseudophedrine" that people allegedly use to cook up "meth." Go figure.

Fortunately the internet, as always, helped to clear up my confusion, at least a little bit.

It seems there is a lot of discussion lately, even on the official Safeway website, regarding concerns about children and cough medicine.

And a lot of health officials - and some stores like Safeway - are recommending that young children not be given cough medicines because they allegedly have no good effect and occasionally can have a bad one.

The general consensus is that never give the medicines to children under the age of two and only rarely to children under the age of six.

Natch, the drug makers dispute all this. But I digress.

Apparently, the clerk was not checking to see if I was "old enough" for cough medicine, he was checking to make sure that I was not "too young."

Ya gotta love it.

"48" really is the new "18."

Now if the internet could only clear up my cough!

Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Contact Dave at

Dave Kiffer ©2007

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