Screw tidings of comfort and joy. What the holidays are really about is guerilla gift giving and people making it appear like they spent more money on you than they actually did. It’s the reason websites such as Overstock.com and eBay were invented.
It’s also where we get the expression, “You shouldn’t have,” as in, “What you should have done is just given me the $19.95 in cash and saved us both the embarrassment of me having to open your craptacular gift—like a steaming turd with a ribbon wrapped around it—then me having to smile and go ‘Oh-h-h-h’ like a retarded boy who just had someone try to pull a nickel out of his ear.”
The day after Thanksgiving is traditionally known as Black Friday (though with people dropping dead of swine flu they might want to consider changing the name to something that sounds less plague-y). On Black Friday, eager shoppers line up in front of stores as early as midnight with “door buster” deals on selected items that are typically in limited supply. It’s a lot like the running of the bulls in Spain, except everyone attending Black Friday is dressed in sweatpants and usually more people get trampled and killed than at a silly old bull run.
Popular Black Friday items this year were GPS navigation systems and you can bet shoppers were hip checking each other out of the way for those. A $95 GPS is a must-have for anyone willing to wake up at 5AM and stand in line at a Target because, really, how are you supposed to find every available Burger King drive-thru in the tri-county area without the aid of a satellite?
I swear some people see a “sale” sign and just start shoveling useless AAA battery-powered junk into their shopping cart. Never once does the question occur to them, “Why is this stuff on sale?” Consider that the day before the same exact item in the same exact aisle in the same exact store cost significantly more and only now is it 50 percent off. Um, why? What happened overnight? Did some disgruntled $9-an-hour dude in a vest pee on it?
And what if the sale prices are really what the prices should have been all along? To me, that just means stores have been unfairly jacking up their costs all year for profit so they can appear gracious by dropping them a few percentage points temporarily during the holidays. Instead of “sale” signs, they should just hang signs when nothing is on sale that read “SORRY” and apologize to all of their customers for being such greedy bastards.
Of course the exception to this rule is Kohl’s where everything in the store is always on sale like a crazy uncle who celebrates his birthday every day and wears his underwear on the outside of his pants like a superhero. Seriously, if you get to the register at Kohl’s and the cashier charges you full-price for anything it’s because he or she personally hates you and is probably seconds away from bludgeoning you in the head with a pricing gun.
Now more than ever, and especially during this recession, think about how much money we could save if we all just agreed to stop buying each other cartloads of useless junk. Do we really need the latest newfangled high-tech expensive gizmo? Probably not. Forget GPS. Here’s a picture of a couch where you will probably be spending the majority of your time. There, I just saved you $100.
So this holiday season put away your Visa and MasterCard, and how about just a plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies and a heartfelt note of thanks?
Or cash. Cash works, too.
Contact Jeff Girod at email@example.com.