You may have pet peeves about certain words or phrases in the English language. One of mine is the phrase “Over the counter drugs.”
These drugs are supposed to be the ones you can just buy on your own. But it makes no sense.
When I get meds with a prescription I walk up to a counter. I pay at the counter and then they are passed – you guessed it – over the counter.
When I want to buy aspirin, considered an over the counter drug- I pick it off a shelf, go to the checkout- set it ON a counter. They ring it up and slide it DOWN the counter into a bag. At no time does my over the counter drug EVER go over a counter. I have never bought a behind the counter drug that wasn’t transacted OVER a counter. Why do we persist with this?
A friend told me it’s because the drugs in the back of the store have to go over the counter to get to the shelves. I’m skeptical. There’s hardly any room behind the counter at most drug stores. What they have is a back room. The “over the counter” drugs are going from the back room to the shelves. If they’re taking each of these items and walking behind the counter and passing them over the counter to someone stocking the shelves they’re not being very efficient.
There are phrases we should change or retire in our language, and “over the counter” is one of them.