24 November 2010

Not So Everyday Rewards

In this week of North American ceremonial gratitude and North Korean certifiable lunacy, I thought it would be nice to take a look at the historical background surrounding why I get so annoyed when I walk into supermarkets.

I got this new rewards card thing set up at Woolworths the other day. Basically, when the computer reminds me to scan it at the checkout, if I’ve spent over a certain amount it gives me a cheap petrol voucher or enough frequent flyer points to get from Darwin half way to Mandorah. I only ever spend enough in one hit if I’m buying a fortnight’s worth of groceries or a year’s worth of T-shirts from Big W. The cheap fuel saves me maybe five dollars a fortnight, and one day I might accrue enough FF points to splurge on a flight to Katherine and back, but my basic assessment of the card is it’s completely useless.

Naturally Woolworths are keen to encourage me to scan it, because it’s an automatic source of market research, building over time a picture of who I am and what my shopping habits are. As a man who is resistant to participation in such corporate systems (and as a man who just likes to be difficult) I resent being a faceless statistics generator, and have begun a silent campaign to throw as many spanners in the works of their research as possible. I’m out to see how far off I can throw the averages.

So that’s two litres of coke, a loaf of bread, five hundred grams of pasta and a travel edition game of hungry hungry hippos.

So that’s two litres of coke, a frozen pizza, an onion and a pair of fluorescent green lady’s bike pants.

So that’s two litres of coke, a packet of frozen peas, five dozen wire coat hangers and a packet of batteries.

Take that , Mr Corporate Research!

And another thing…

It is a well documented matter of public record that the founding fathers of America, cognisant of the gaping celebratory void between Father’s Day and Advent, instituted the festival of Thanksgiving as an intermediary holiday in order to stop department shops putting up Christmas decorations in October. There’s also some gobbledegook going around about a bunch of religious refugees and a boat, but something tells me that wouldn’t carry much weight around here.

So in the absence of Thanksgiving and Halloween, Casuarina has had tinsel and reindeer hanging from the ceiling since some time in that netherspace between the AFL grand final (both of them in this year’s case) and the start of the domestic cricket season that we like to call mid October. And now the freaking music has started up, well outside the officially ordained borders of Advent (which I confirmed earlier this week by consulting my mother’s liturgical calendar). I’m over it already, and it’s not even December yet.

On top of the plastic Christmas gunk, there are those new automatic checkout devices they’ve installed. You can walk up, check out and pay for your own groceries without the need to wait for a checkout operator. That sounds like a great idea, except that it doesn’t make the slightest difference to the customers, who now just have to line up to use a machine instead of a checkout operator. The only people taking any benefit from it are the corporate owners, who now only have to pay one or two people to run around whenever the things breakdown or have a system error or over charge someone or run out of money, instead of paying people to provide any kind of service.

And the machines can only talk to you in pre-recorded voices, making their sing song chorus of “thankyou for shopping with the Fresh Food People” enough to induce me to punch the thing in its face. Fortunately it doesn’t have one. Any minute now I’m going to announce a boycott of supermarkets altogether, except that then I’d be one of those people who shop at outdoor markets, and if I combine that with being one of those people who whinges about society on his entirely-irrelevant-to-anyone-but-him-and-his-mum blog and being one of those people who works in the finance industry, I might just have to go and shoot myself.

And so I wish my American friends a happy Thanksgiving. I wish my compatriots in Australia a happy Valentine’s Day, since apparently getting in three months early is the thing to do these days and I wish my friends in Adelaide my sincerest condolences on having to live there. Oh, and in case I don’t get around to it later…

Happy Christmas!




Garry with 2 Rs
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