Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Black Fryday, the ad man tells us what to do, the ad man can Fcuk himself.
In high-school, thanksgiving weekend was something to look forward to. The food I would help prepare, seeing my extended family (messing with my drunk uncles and older cousins) and (my all time guilty pleasure) the football (Go Lions). In those years the Friday after thanksgiving featured epic turkey sandwiches (for the record I am Veg now, but I make an exception for this day because of bonds from the past... Old habits die hard, and once a year is my current agreement with myself.) Touch football with anyone who wanted to play and the second day of a four day weekend to relax, get caught up on homework and really take in the fall weather.
The years to follow Thanks giving weekend turned into an entirely different affair. No longer was this a time to look forward to. The businesses I worked at were mostly retail establishments, (Home-depot, Sav-on, Circuit City, Big 5...) Thanks giving dinner celebration had to be cut short because I had to be up early to make the 6am store opening (it's earlier now in many cases). The door buster sales lured in hundred of anxious customers. Some looking for deals others looking for a way to make a buck through re-sale. I lived and worked in affluent and privileged towns, but that didn't subdue the frenzy.
The door buster sales ended up being a bane on the employees. We had to endlessly explain that the actual number of the items listed in secret sale ads and coupons handed out to the people in lines by management was a set amount and we didn't anticipate such a big crowd and "we're so sorry" This was a lie. Some of the workers new it others were oblivious to it. The customers who were not completely turned off from this bait and swap tactic ended up buying items at similar sale prices that we available at other times of the year, or they purchased items that were slightly different, slightly lesser in quality at a noticeable discount from the product they were constructed to emulate. Examples of these lesser products sold at a discount are the lower tier HDTV brands, laptops and surround sound systems.
The black Friday consumption lasts through the early evening. The early morning employees are clocked out to ensure no overtime pay. The part timers come in on a skeleton crew to reset the store for the next day. Salaried mid-level management are expected to stay until everything is taken care no matter when his or her shift began. I felt fried after these days. Not wanting to speak to anyone after a day of non-stop chatter about products, deals, and failures to provide what the ad said. Too tired to try to sift through my course work, too irritable for company.
My complaints read like the diary of a lazy over-privileged suburbanite. I might make you think I am ungrateful or lazy. You may say "at least you have a job", "you have to strike while the iron's hot". Pick your colloquialism. The employees working the day after Thanksgiving are not so fortunate to have a choice in these matters. If you try to avoid this day of work your supervisor will hold it against you in the future. Everyone in the service industry holds an obligation to work holidays, weekends and without much notice.
Why do we get wrapped up into such a frenzy? Are we so lacking all of the products we want to give or keep come December 25th? We are bankrupt on buying. So miserable with what we have we always need more. "Desires achieved increases thirst like salt water." We do this because we are told to. Not only by the retailers and their intricate marketing campaigns, but also by our plastic hearts. Our plastic hearts and our minds filled with the cost of everything and the value of nothing. This is our metaphor.
There is no separating this madness. It will only get worse and more people will find themselves laboring on the days we once put aside. Our economy and way of life is strongly rooted in consumerism. What do we need to do to divorce our actual well being from consumerism? How do we put all of these resources into something more worthwhile? The first step is to define what is more worth.