"Does It Expire?"

A couple afternoons ago, a work-mate of mine mentioned she had a bit of a headache coming on and asked me if I had any Tylenol. Normally, I don’t, so I said no. I added, though, that one of my other co-workers probably did, as he always seemed to have a mini-pharmacy in his desk for whatever ails. So my friend asked my co-worker.

I quickly remembered asking this co-worker for a couple of Tylenols once, and when I took the bottle, noticed the expiry date on the bottle had passed.

So then I quickly quipped, “Hopefully they’re not expired.”

My co-worker then told me hard pills apparently don’t expire – because, well, they don’t really break down (until/unless ingested) and that the expiry dates on the bottles are really just for pharmaceutical companies to cover their behinds in the event of litigation. Probably the only exception to this, he added, were gelcaps, since they’re partially liquid anyway. The friend asking for the Tylenols for her headache qualified this.

I remembered this again today when my mom – recovering from a really nasty cold left over from Thanksgiving weekend – jokingly mentioned how she’s had this small jar of Vicks VapoRub for so long, she’s been unsure whether or not to throw it out. I mean, there’s still VapoRub left in the jar, so it’s nowhere near finished.

She tried this evening to see if she could read the label for the expiry date, ’cause she’s pretty sure the jar is as old as I am, possibly older. I even tried looking at it. We can’t make anything out, saved for a couple of faded 2’s, only because the writing down the side’s been all but rubbed out, probably by so many people handling it just to open the jar lid, and probably by age. So it remains one of life’s tiny mysteries in my house.

This got me to thinking: somebody should do a show – or at least a four-and-a-half minute YouTube segment – called, “Does It Expire?”

I mean, you’ve got “Will It Float?” on Letterman, and “Will It Blend?” on the Internet. I mean, why not? I think it would totally work. People have done experiments on the shelf-life of fast food from McDonald’s and such. Why not medicine?

Or alternately, someone should just hold a contest to see who owns the oldest jar of Vicks VapoRub still currently in use …

I’m just sayin’ …

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