Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"Yeah, I got yer 'Softer Side' Right HERE, pal!" - Part III - Feliz Negatividad

Hello, Recurring Visitor!

Do you know how many pre-internet hours I spent as a child staring at pages in the "Sears Christmas Wish Book"?  When they said "Wish Book", they weren't just whistlin' Dixie, folks.  As a kid of the late 70's/Early 80's, this magical tome (which was left on your doorstep increasingly earlier every year) represented childhood dreams incarnate in a slick, glossy, full-color package.

As a Telephone Sales Representative at "Sears" I was now part of that proud tradition.  I was the guy behind this:


*WOOF!*   Sorry, 'bout that folks!  Let's pick something a tad less creepy.  Like this:

Awwwwwww, puppy!  Everybody loves puppies, right?

Going into my first Holiday season with "Sears", I thought that my brief time spent at "Zellers" ( had adequately prepared me for what was to come.  I also assumed that being on the other end of a phone line would insulate me somewhat from the worst of frontline abuse heaped upon the heads of the average retail drone.   

I would be proven tragically wrong.

Before the coming of the storm I was distracted somewhat by my success on the job and the increased shift frequency that resulted.  At the apex of the holiday season I thought it rather interesting that I was getting close to full-time hours but (curiously) none of the benefits and perks that usually comes from being a full-time employee.  Wow, sounds like the sort of mystery that might precipitate a few Horatio Cane one-liners, furrowed brows, hands on hips and possible eye wear placement, n'est pas?  

But I wasn't complaining at the time.  With the money I was making from all the extra hours I could give my girlfriend and family more than just a card and a hearty handshake for Christmas.

Regardless of my relative financial stability, it was soon eclipsed by the true horror of Holiday retail sales.  This can best be summed up by the following cartoon courtesy of Jerry and Mike at "Penny Arcade":

Gabe isn't exaggerating when he says "Holiday retail is WAR", folks.  I'm a survivor and sometime I still wake up screaming.

The Holiday season has now become an exhibition for just how out of whack our society has become.  Every year it's the same friggin' thing and every year we fall for it like lemmings with a credit limit.

Manufacturers hold focus groups amongst kids to determine what this year's "dream toy" will be.  Once decided, they advertise the crap out of it on "YTV" months prior to Christmas, under produce the thing in some Malaysian sweat shop and then short-ship them to retailers.

When L'il Joanie and/or Johnny are suitably brainwashed by the potent combination of direct-delivery adverts and peer pressure they begin to irrationally desire this completely impractical "thing".  This typically kicks off a two-to-three month campaign of dedicated whining.  After all, if the child doesn't get what it wants it may be left out of this grotesque groupthink experiment.

Combine this with an entire generation of overcompensating parents who are absent from their children's lives either because both of them are forced to work to make ends meet or they had kids merely because it was the next thing on the unwavering "things to do list".

Mix all these ingredients together and bake during the high-pressure Holiday season and you'll end up with the sort of rampant, unchecked consumerism that makes life in the western world borderline shameful.  To prove my point, does anyone really care now about the following "Main Offenders":

Remember these eerie l'il f#@%$ from 1998?  No?  Probably for good reason.  People went positively bat- shit insane over "Furby's".  They'd step over the body of their own mother to acquire one of these things for their petulant, spoiled larvae.  If I had a dime for every time I had to explain to a customer that the manufacturer (Tiger Electronics, I'm looking in your direction...) only made a small handful of these hairy abortions to meet the demand I'd likely have a thousand dimes.

We as front-line sales people bore the brunt of some major wrath when these blinking electronic retards flew off the shelves.  To our collective amazement this resulted in parental in-store death matches and enterprising chaps snatching them up and selling them for profit on the internets to complete morons.

And where are these now?  I'll tell ya where.  Sitting deep in the attic someplace, slowly turning into a dust bunny the size of a tumbleweed, rocking back and forth and muttering incoherent gibberish like "U-Nye-Way-Loh-Nee-Way!"

Yeah, I'll help you "go to sleep now" you little Tribble-bitch Mogwai wanna-be f#@$!  

*Ahem*.  Sorry 'bout that.  Let's move onto this inexplicably appealing chronic seizure victim:

In 1996 this crimson, spastic bastard caused us a huge lungful of grief and misery.  I actually had a woman tell me that I personally ruined her Christmas because "Sears" wouldn't sell her a "Tickle-Me-Elmo" for her kid.  Do you think I could make it logical in her thick skull that "Sears" would have liked nothing better than to sell millions of these creepy, molestation-craving muppets to every brain-damaged soccer mom on the planet so they could easily bribe love from their afterthought child?  Damn right we did!

Finally, there's this jaundiced, morphine-drunk polyp:

Just like "Elmo", they made a talking version of this as well, which made no sense to me at all since all the perky mutant would ever say is variations of his own name over and over again.

My opinion of "Pokemon" can be best described by the following "Robot Chicken" sketch:

My point is, what did we really go through all that misery for?  For zeitgeist-flavored pop culture sugar bombs that have barely any value a mere few months after the mania subsides?

Think about it people!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to appraise my collection of "Star Wars" action figures...




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