Thursday, June 12, 2008

Hollow Promises

This afternoon I found myself looking forward to grocery shopping. I had decided to go to the bigger store over the river which is set in a big complex thing rather than the normal strip of shops type place. You know the kind of place I mean, it's large enough to have 3 or 4 major traders and then a B-list string of food franchises and XXX "Specialty Stores". Lots of white lights rather than 'warm' lights. Why was I looking forward to it?
I don't know.
I hate the place.

The larger store stocks items I don't need very often and can't get at the normal store. It has a wider range of vegetables and cheeses, but is the same in every other regard - except for the tempting idea of neighbouring "specialty stores".

This is the pattern. I go, and wander for nearly an hour getting sore feet and a headache, not finding anything of a special nature. Instead I am shocked and awed by the physical and emotional parade of my fellow shoppers, I am numbed by the blandness on offer. This is not a particular insult to this town. I think it's fair to say that most if not all suburban shopping centers are like this. Middle-ness in essence.

The logic is that folk want roughly 20% of stuff 80% of the time. Think about groceries - bread and milk and potatoes every shop, but all those other 10 aisles .... well we pick and choose. I skip about a third of aisles every visit and probably you do too. Anyway, of that 20% ... most folk then have only one or two preferences.
Ice cream? "Sure!" Says most folks, then they split between Chocolate and Vanilla. There's the odd statistical anomaly who wants Strawberry, and then there's all those "special occasion" ice-creams, but for the bog-standard 4litre Ice Cream purchase (yes, I said 4L!) it's choc or vanilla. So extrapolate that out, and let the logic run for a while. No wonder there are people who just don't realise that you can get pistachio ice-cream, because even in an internationally award-winning mid-sized city with XXX specialty stores, there's not a one selling anything too far different from everything else everyone already has. They're offering hollow promises,

So to come back to where I started, I grocery shopped tonight with speed, precision and organisation (possibly the only realm of my life where I can muster all three skills in one place) and was in and out of there in 50 minutes (almost a personal best!). I looked in the windows of the stores as I walked briskly past them, and confirmed that I don't need any of that shit. I was grateful to be able to get the stuff I did need, but came home as quickly as possible to enjoy my time and thoughts (and maybe a little bit of ebay activity, where the 80/20 rule does not hold sway and the erratic and irrational have their power returned).

It was good to get out unscathed, but I am am not always this calm and controlled. I resent the foggy numbness that sometimes comes over me. I don't even have to be in the endless mall/centre for it to happen (so I can't blame the lights or the mirrors or that insidious fake-food smell that Subway pumps out) but when it does I become a wandering, impulse-shopping zombie. Something that works to snap me out of it, if I have any intelligence left flickering in my cranium, is to imagine the stare of withering derision that Henry Rollins would give me if he caught me doing this, and that sorts me out quick smart. Of course, Hank wouldn't know me from a baboon, but in some Jungian way I have taken all that I admire from him and Batman that possibly has a faint echo in myself and given it his face (the cowl was too hidden in the end for my own already hidden corners) so I can accord it some respect. Having said that if the chance to actually differentiate myself from a baboon in Henry Rollins' consciousness ever did present itself I would jump on him. I mean it, jump on it. The opportunity, I'd be all over it, not Henry. He's too big. Not that I'd try, you know, to literally *jump* on him, but, oh forget it. This is going from bad to worse.
I am so uncool. I'll just stop there.

No comments: