29 Jun 98

A Love Letter to Consumer Society

A Love Letter to Consumer Society

I just wanted to thank all the consumers who made this weekend possible. See, I never buy anything, except for ginger ale and crackers. I'm not cheap, just boring. But this weekend, cooped up with freelance work, I needed an air conditioner badly. In Godless Russia, no way--I'd have to sell my children and rent out my dacha for a broken, freon-based AC. But in Carroll Gardens, in Brooklyn, in New York City, in New York State, in the U.S.A., I walked fifteen minutes to the largest Home Depot in the northeast states and bought both a trundle cart and a 5100 BTU Hampton Bay AC (with an ER of 9). I bungee-strapped the AC to the cart and walked it home. The whole process took less than an hour. The AC fell off the cart twice.

If this was a country of Pauls, all stores would stock ginger ale and crackers, but there would be no Home Depot. As a practice, comparison shopping for door frames would cease. No more wallpapering or wall-to-wall carpeting, ever. Society would stop and there would be a quarter-billion Subway Diaries: an unpleasant scenario. I thank God we live in a nation of people who worry about hardwood floors and moulding, who purchase a TV-VCR combo for each room in the house. I'm happy to skim off their competitive economy without competing myself. My closet has enough shirts and I have enough money for regular haircuts, but when I need something--like a computer or microwave--your relentless upgrading and purchasing makes my own greeds and comforts easy to satisfy.

You whose wallets support the pyramids of soda cans, I congratulate you. My apartment is nicely chilled by your desires.




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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

If you have any questions for me, I am very accessible by email. You can email me at ford@ftrain.com and ask me things and I will try to answer. Especially if you want to clarify something or write something critical. I am glad to clarify things so that you can disagree more effectively.


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© 1974-2011 Paul Ford


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