So, I was actually not very happy today. Kinda blue and feeling dragged down by my clients’ challenges and stories, by the weather, by being too heavy in general. But then, the clouds parted and the sun peeked out. Changed the whole landscape. Everything looked different—brighter. And my work day finished earlier than expected due to a last-minute cancellation. And my trusty bike was waiting for me to get on it.
And I had my Optimum card with me.
Since I had no responsibilities for the next two hours , I would take my time shopping in the Pharmaprix. Excited by this luxurious plan, I felt happy pedaling away on my bike towards the store. I knew that when I got there I would easily be able to spend the required 75 bucks to entitle me to two tickets to the movies. I had received an email on my Blackberry telling me about this week’s deal. Wow. Sometimes it really is worth it to remember my card and to use it and to be intentional about where and when I shop! Capitalism is actually fun if you are smart and you make it work for you. I mean, I know that they are trying to screw you by getting you to spend tons more money than you would normally, but for me, who is running a house with four people, it is easy to spend that much money and then I get the real treat of free movies! Anyway, at the age of 42, this socialist is finally making capitalism work for her. It’s kinda like when I realized that by being really nice to customer service reps on the phone I would get way better service and ultimately save money. Not to mention the fact that it felt karmically bad to be nasty to the poor folks shrilling for the man because they couldn’t get a better job. Yelling at them was not going to do anyone any good. Radical anarchist activists who confront the big bosses directly really get it. It is the only kind of direct resistance that makes sense. Otherwise you are just caught in the trap of abusing people who are already abused…but I digress…
Anyway, so getting my Optimum card and shopping at Pharmaprix is another way that I decided to make capitalism work for me. Since I need to shop there anyway…
So I was actually, on this particular day, feeling happy and excited about it. The decadent idea was to take my time strolling the aisles, looking for health products, great deals on food, and objects that would make me feel more supported at home, and more pampered. So I cycled through the sunny streets on my way to Pharmaprix and, as I did, this the cloudy negative day turned into a happy sunny day full of promise.
I entered the store and got myself a flyer. There were some specials but nothing fabulous. Nevermind. I would look through every aisle and surely find some surprises. Something felt not quite right. The store was quite empty. Weird. O well. Nevermind. I continued along my happy path—still hopeful that something would appear on the shelves that I really needed at a ridiculously low price. And I went about this plan, gradually feeling a little less shiny and happy. I felt like there was a steady drain on my life force as I filled my cart with slightly less than necessary things (another bottle of Cal/Mag cuz it was on sale and I could put one in the bathroom and one in the kitchen to increase the change that I would actually take it regularly—really? two bottles? really?) I aimed to reach the 75 dollar magic total which would entitle me to the movie tickets. Something really felt wrong when I arrived at the Tetley Tea which should have been $4 according to the flyer (even though I made a commitment to my boyfriend to stop buying until we had used some up) and it was listed at its regular price of $6.79. I went to the price checker machine and indeed it was not on special. I was confused and worried but since I already had my quota I went to the cash—with a deepening feeling of unease about the whole project. There I found out that the tea special had ended the day previous (didn’t I read the fine print?). Then I said: I am here to get my movie tickets! to which the cashier replied that they would only be available on the weekend. So I said: So you are saying is that one special ended yesterday and the other starts tomorrow? Yes, it is written in the fine print. Great, I said.
So I had wasted 45 minutes of my precious and finite life, and I was standing beside a cart full of items that I would not be taking home. And I still really wanted my movie tickets. I said: Do you want me to put all of these items back on the shelves? And she said no, one of their staff would do it.
I walked out deflated. Totally deflated. And kind of ashamed that I, a lifetime socialist, had allowed myself to be duped into thinking that Pharmaprix could make me happy. I thought of my 45 minutes and saw a toilet flushing. I thought of the 20 minutes or more it would take an inexperienced staff member to put back my painstakingly chosen items on the shelves. I also thought of the time that I would have to put back into the project the next day in order to get my free fucking movie tickets. And the whole thing was so much less shiny and happy and much more nauseating.
And why did this happen? Actually it happened because I have a Blackberry. And why did I get one of these? Because the girl in the Bell store looked at me like I was an alien when I said that I did not want a smartphone. She said that soon there would not be any non-smart phones. No more dumb phones? Nope, she said. And I could get this great phone for free because I had signed on to Bell for another three years of gauging my bank account. And because I had a Blackberry, and because I signed up for Optimum points, I received an instant message while at work telling me about the free movie tickets (forgot to read the fine print) and I planned the whole rest of my day around false promises of shiny happiness. And boy was that a failure. Me deluded for a whole bike ride in which I could have been thinking much better thoughts. Me wasting 45 minutes choosing items gradually feeling a sense of doom setting in. Me being annoyed at an innocent cashier who felt ashamed and guilty for the waste of my time. An employee having to find all the places to put back my abandoned items. Me leaving feeling disappointed, frustrated, and ashamed. Thanks Pharmaprix! Thanks Blackberry! Thanks Bell! Thanks capitalism! You sure make my life better! Not.