Doing a little after-holiday shopping, in preparation for our own personal Christmas, as celebrated by the Church of the Latter Day Savings, we noticed a couple of changes to the most fundamental facet of the holidays, as celebrated in America – shopping itself.
First of all, there seems to be a dearth of deep-cut after Christmas sales this year. On-line, at the mall, and at stand-alone specialty stores, the story seems to be the same. Weak, washed out mop-up sales, dainty discounts on sleazy selected items, half-hearted consumer come-ons which seem driven more by habit than by hope of significant sales volume.
Perhaps the pre-holiday rush was so successful they have sold everything, or the cutthroat competition caused such deep discounts prices that there is nowhere lower to go without wallowing in a sea of red ink, or they are merely waiting for those billions of dollars of gift cards to troop through the door. At any rate, we hope that this is an anomaly for this year only, as a drop in post-holiday savings could put a crimp in the plans for Church of the Latter Day Savings‘s world domination.
The other big change we have noted is the pernicious, insistent and incremental loss of privacy which now seems to be a part of the post 9/11 shopping experience. Increasingly, we are being asked for personal information at the check-out counter, especially at Big Box, Hi-Tech, Mega-Corporation reps like Staples and Best Buy.
Why the hell do they need to know my address and phone number every time I want to buy a DVD or a paper shedder? Is it so paranoid to imagine a wall-sized monitor somewhere, someday, in an anonymous governmental office, on which blinking green lights track our consumption across the cartography of capitalism, collecting information or worse. Such dark thoughts lead to exchanges like the following, last week, at Micro Center.
We were purchasing 50 DVD-R’s, a can of compressed air and an ethernet cable. As we reached the purchasing terminal the teenaged reprobate behind the keyboard prompted,
"I prefer to preserve my anonymity," we replied, as we are wont to do.
"Wha?" Blank look.
We repeat ourself, slowly, as when addressing the mentally challenged.
"Hey, Rolanda," he actually shouted to his supervisor across the way, "Do we have Nomininity?"