Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday

A day I experienced as a stock clerk when I was caught in the middle of a dept store riot over loss-leader rolls of wrapping paper.  The few times I volunteered to work this day at Pearl Arts & Crafts store (Friday was a day off), the insanity occurred at the Toys R Us next door in the strip mall across from Woodbridge Center Mall  & initiated a month of parking lot hell & psycho-drama scenes between children & the parents crazy enough to bring them to a toy store in December.   On the whole I liked working at Pearl that month. The store was busier but not often crowded, lots of decorations, & most of my time was spent answering questions & straightening book dept shelves, & helping out a bit with children's stuff.  The craft dept absorbed most of the wave. They had aisles of  "little doo dads" & it was a disaster zone on  Monday mornings. Since I worked Sundays, my book area was always in fine shape. During those years, Christmas Day itself was wonderfully anti-climactic.

Holiday season is an annual source of amazement & dismay. Yesterday I was reading & wondering why the hell we're still defending an  economic & military powerhouse like South Korea 60 years after the Korean "police action."  North Korea doesn't have China & the Soviet Union  propping it up  anymore.   South Korea, thanks to us,  has its own  large, well-equipped armed forces.  Why are we spending billions "protecting"  nations that can  protect  themselves, are in better or at least no worse economic condition than us, but give us The Finger when we ask for mildly favorable trade & monetary policy concessions? We shouldn't be whipping President Obama for it, but rather asking why those nations are screwing us when it ought to be as obvious to us as it is  to them that our "empire" is hollow & collapsing & we need to redirect our resources back home & stop wasting lives & treasure overseas when millions are jobless or underemployed  here & our infrastructure is falling apart around us.  Those other countries will  use  us until we're all used up. They're  driving ahead, while our eyes are fixed on the rear view mirror.  We just handed over the House of Representives to politicians who think it's 1955 - or ought to be, when plate tectonics were a fanciful idea &  it was inconceivable for priests to molest children, & the two big Commie nations  had their own empires. But back then, President Ike was successfully promoting a grand system of interstate highways. Now we treat a  needed & long-overdue new rail tunnel under the Hudson like a bridge-to-nowhere.  

So we ignore all that & line up outside Best Buy & Walmart for hypnotic 3D HDTVs.  On the way home we stop to buy powerball lottery tickets, which allow us to dream right along with the bankers & war profiteers who  are ripping us off.

This isn't  a bah humbug post.  I have no problem separating the beautiful & meaningful religious observances from the secular craziness that has become so important a "holiday" to our economy. I don't like it. But I don't think generic  "Happy Holidays"  sales signs in big box stores constitute  a "War on Christmas."   We invented this month-long festival.   Real war is the  War on Christmas.


Hey, because freedom isn't free, my friend! Ha, sorry, just kidding. Freedom is always free, at least until Libyan warships pull up off the coast of Virginia and start lobbing shells at Newport News. South Korea, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Grenada, Venezuela, Columbia, mexico, et al, are all just profit centers. They're where the money goes. When I worked at Hahnes & Co's very temporary HQ, in that exact same Woodbridge strip mall, we were always in that Pearl store, looking at portfolios and art supplies. 1989 or so.
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"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." Thomas Jefferson

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